Trayvon Martin Case: Why the Grand Jury Decision Doesn’t Change Much

Special prosecutor Angela Corey's decision not to use a grand jury garnered much attention, but it still does not indicate which way she will swing.

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Bruce Lipsky / The Florida Times-Union / AP

Angela Corey, the special prosecutor in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, listens to a victim's statement at the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Fla in this March 9, 2010 file photo.

With anticipation growing toward a decision in the Trayvon Martin case, Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey opted not to use a grand jury to decide if George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the teen to death, should face criminal charges. But her investigation continues, as it has since she became involved.

On Monday, Corey announced that she will not convene the scheduled April 10 grand jury to investigate Trayvon Martin’s case. But her office makes one thing clear: “The decision should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case.” George Zimmerman’s fate now rests entirely in Corey’s hands.

(MORE: Trayvon Martin: Why ‘Some of My Best Friends Are Black’ Isn’t a Good Defense)

Corey’s decision does not come as a significant surprise, however. “I always lean towards moving forward without needing the grand jury in a case like this,” Corey told the Miami Herald last month. “I foresee us being able to make a decision, and move on it on our own.”

It has not startled Trayvon’s family either, with their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, replying that he expected as much. In a statement to TIME, he said:

“We are not surprised by this announcement and, in fact, are hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest George Zimmerman and give Trayvon Martin’s family the simple justice they have been seeking all along. The family has been patient throughout this process and asks that those who support them do the same during this very important investigation.”

(MORE: Trayvon Martin Case: Lawyer Alleges Police Chief, Prosecutor Met the Night of Killing)

Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, declined to comment on the announcement to TIME. But one of Zimmerman’s other lawyers, Hal Uhrig, texted a reaction to CNN: “Not surprised. Don’t know what her decision will be. Courageous move on her part.”

Although the announcement Monday increased anticipation on a decision from Corey, in actuality it does not signal much as far as which way she will lean, legal experts say. New York-based defense attorney Stuart Slotnick says that even with a grand jury, a prosecutor would still need to gather evidence in the case.

“People are anxious to see something happen,” Slotnick says. “But the decision not to impanel a grand jury today does not mean charges won’t be brought tomorrow.”

But he suggests to be patient, as there is not a typical amount of time for a person in that job to make a decision, “especially in cases where there are deaths, and where there is not a complete picture and just pieces of evidence.”

His advice to those watching the case is to simply wait until Corey makes her decision as she continues to investigate the case. “This decision to continue to investigate could be that the prosecutor is trying to build the strongest case possible against George Zimmerman, but that remains to be seen,” he says.

MORE: TIME’s Emotional Interview with Trayvon Martin’s Parents About President Obama, Justice and ‘Hoodies in Heaven’

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