George Zimmerman faced his first court hearing Thursday in the Trayvon Martin case -- one day after he was officially charged with second-degree murder for the teen's death.
Zimmerman's attorney entered a not-guilty plea, standing on the claim that the neighborhood watchman acted in self defense.
Prosecutors must prove that Zimmerman intentionally went after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed.
An arraignment is set for May 29.
Zimmerman arrived at Seminole County Jail late Wednesday night, after Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced he would be charged with second-degree murder.
"We filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree," Corey told a crowd of assembled media.
Zimmerman could face life in prison, if convicted.
The announcement came after 45 days of protests and a national debate over race and justice in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year old.
"It is the search for justice for Trayvon that has brought us to this moment," Corey said.She added that she and her team prayed with Trayvon's family when they first met.
"The first thing we did was pray. We opened in prayer," she said.
Martin's parents expressed relief that charges will be filed and they stressed that, for them, the issue is not about race.
"Thank you Lord! Thank you, Jesus!" Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, cried before supporters at a rally after the announcement.
"I just want to speak from my heart to your heart, because a heart has no color," she said. "It's not black, it's not white. It's red."
Zimmerman insists he shot Martin in self-defense. He claims the teen attacked him and beat his head on the ground.
Sanford police did not arrest Zimmerman likely because of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force if they feel their lives are threatened.
The case is expected test that law and lead to closer scrutiny of other such laws nationwide.
Still, Legal experts say the special prosecutor faces a steep hurdle in making a murder case against Zimmerman because she has to prove he intended to kill him.
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said he's worried about whether his client will get a fair trial because of the weeks of intense coverage by national media.
"There has obviously been a lot of information flowing. I think a lot of it's been premature and maybe inappropriate," he said.
O'Mara is expected to ask the judge to release Zimmerman on bond.
The Justice Department is still investigating the case and may charge Zimmerman with a hate crime.