Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has made his first court appearance on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

During the brief appearance Thursday, Zimmerman stood up straight and wore a gray prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him and his attorney.

The judge said an arraignment would be held on May 29 before another judge.

Zimmerman was charged after a public campaign to make an arrest in the Feb. 26 shooting, which has galvanized the nation for weeks.

Some legal experts had expected Zimmerman to face a lesser count of  manslaughter and say a prosecutor will face steep hurdles to win a murder conviction. Zimmerman has claimed that he fired in self-defense.

Legal experts say a special state prosecutor has steep hurdles to climb to make a murder case against Zimmerman. Experts say they need to counter Zimmerman's claim that he shot Martin in self-defense, and prove he intended to kill Martin.

Zimmerman's attorney also plans to invoke Florida's "stand your ground" law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force to protect themselves.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)