Trayvon Martin tops list of biggest Central Florida news of 2012 - FOX 35 News Orlando

Trayvon Martin, early-voting woes top list of biggest local news of 2012

Trayvon Martin's shooting death tops a list of 2012's biggest Central Florida news stories.

The shooting of Martin by an armed neighborhood watch captain in Sanford raised questions about race, gun control and equal justice under the law.

A 44-day delay in the neighborhood watch captain's arrest led to nationwide protests, and everyone from President Obama to celebrities weighed in on the shooting.

George Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense. His trial is set for the middle of next year.

Florida's continued voting woes, and the presidential election, was another major headline this year.

What first appeared to be an isolated problem in one Florida county spread statewide, with election officials in nine counties informing prosecutors or state election officials about questionable voter registration forms filled out on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida. In addition, Florida's early-voting period was shortened, leading to lines hours long at sites across the state.

At the Winter Park Library, the early-voting location had to be evacuated on the last day of early voting after reports of two suspicious packages, halting voting for several hours. The packages were detonated, and early voting was extended to Sunday.

In other big news this year, the slayings of two Winter Park High students whose charred bodies were found along the Cady Way Trail shocked Orange County.

Jesse Davis is serving life in prison for the April murders of Nicholas Presha and Jeremy Stewart. In a chilling recording made by investigators, Davis coldly describes how he planned to rob and murder the teens.

"Why you getting gas?" a detective asked Davis in the recording.

"Because I knew I was going to set them on fire."

"Why would you want to set them on fire?"

"Because I knew I was going to kill them."

And elsewhere, Dwight Howard's departure from the Orlando Magic was the top sports story of Central Florida. Orlando's long, will-he-stay-or-will-he-go "Dwightmare" ended in August, when the all-star center was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rounding out the top five stories of 2012, the Orlando Sentinel identified the Orange County earned sick-time fight and Orlando hosting the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in their 2012 Year in Review.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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