April 11th, 2012
08:02 PM ET

Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder

George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who says he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, has been charged with murder in the second degree, special prosecutor Angela Corey told reporters Wednesday.

Read the charges (PDF) | Read Corey's remarks (PDF)

Corey said that Zimmerman has surrendered to authorities in Florida and has been arrested. The charge carries a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.

Police say Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, on February 26 in Sanford, Florida, after Martin began walking home from a convenience store. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic and was a neighborhood watch volunteer, had called 911 to complain about a suspicious person in the neighborhood. He was released without charges after claiming self-defense, but the case was referred to Corey for a review as thousands converged on Sanford to join in protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest.

The following are running updates on the story:

[Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET] Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara, said that he expects to file a motion seeking bond for Zimmerman on Thursday. Currently, Zimmerman is being held without opportunity for bond.

O'Mara told CNN by phone that he thinks Zimmerman is "troubled by the fact that the state decided to charge him," but that he "understands what is in front of him," and he's "doing OK."

At a news conference outside his office seconds later, O'Mara told reporters that Zimmerman voluntarily surrendered to Florida authorities, and that authorities were in the process of moving him to custody in Seminole County, Florida.

"He's concerned about getting a fair trial and a fair presentation," O'Mara said. "There's obviously been a lot of information flowing. I think a lot of it has been premature and inappropriate."

"The worst thing that can happen in this case is that it doesn't get tried properly," O'Mara said. "Give us our chance to do it the way it's supposed to be done."

On Tuesday, Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.

iReport.com: What's your reaction?

[Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET] Sanford's mayor, Jeff Triplett, called "for continued calm in Sanford, its surrounding communities and around the nation."

"The case is in the hands of the justice system. Please allow it to work through the process and come to a natural conclusion," Triplett said in a news conference in Sanford, following Corey's announcement.

[Updated at 6:58 p.m. ET] Martin's father, Tracy Martin, thanked "everyone for being compassionate about this."

"As (Martin's attorney, Benjamin Crump) said, this is just the beginning. We have a long way to go, and we have faith," Tracy Martin said.

Trayvon Martin's parents and their attorneys were at a news conference with the Rev. Al Sharpton in Washington, D.C., where the parents have been visiting an annual conference held by Sharpton's National Action Network.

Tracy Martin spoke of the marches in which people called for justice in the case.

"The first time we marched, I looked to the sky and said, 'I will walk by faith,' Martin recalled. "We will continue to walk by faith. We will continue to hold hands on this journey - white, black, Latino.

"We will march and march and march until the right thing is done."

[Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET] An emotional Sybrina Fulton - who is Martin's mother - reacted to Wednesday's news:

"First of all, I want to say: Thank God. We simply wanted an arrest," she told reporters in Washington, D.C. "We wanted nothing more and nothing less, and we got it. And I say thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus."

[Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET] The attorney for Martin's parents, Benjamin Crump, standing with the parents and the Rev. Al Sharpton, told reporters in Washington, D.C., said that if one were to look at the facts and evidence fairly, Zimmerman "had to be arrested, and this matter had to go before a judge and a jury."

"We can take a short breath, because we are just now getting to first base," Crump said. "This is only first base. Trayvon's legacy cannot be tarnished based on people doing sick things and acting (on) ignorance or using violence."

[Updated at 6:42 p.m. ET] The Rev. Al Sharpton, standing with Trayvon Martin's parents at a news conference in Washington, D.C., said "there should be no high-fiving" over Zimmerman's charge.

"There’s no winners here. … This is not about gloating. This is about pursuing justice. We have not won anything. All we have established is we have the right to redress," Sharpton said.

Sharpton said that he believed public pressure didn't lead Corey to file the charges, but he believes public pressure caused Florida's governor and Corey to review the case.

"If we did not get this far, we would condemn them," Sharpton said. "We must say that despite the fact that we are of ... different political persuasions ... we came together and said only the facts should matter."

"We are trying to make sure that something happens so that this will not happen again," Sharpton said.

[Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET] Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, issued a statement following the announcement of charges against Zimmerman:

“Forty–five days after Trayvon Martin’s life came to a violent end, the wheels of justice have finally begun to turn. This is an important first step toward bringing justice for Trayvon and his family," Jealous' statement began.

"As we have seen, the system does not always work perfectly. But we have shown that when we stand together as a nation we can compel it to work. For the NAACP, this case has always been about the rule of law. We are encouraged by today’s charges, but we know that this is just the beginning. We anticipate and expect a thorough federal investigation of the Sanford Police Department and their role in exacerbating this tragedy," Jealous said.

Jealous said "Trayvon’s case moved the nation because it underscored the twin tragedies that affect so many of our young people: Trayvon was profiled because of his race—looked upon as a threat rather than the loving son he was."

"And then, once he became a victim, he was neglected by the very police department tasked with protecting our communities and families," Jealous said. "As a nation, we’ve got to address the issues of racial profiling and the valuation of black mens’ lives by law enforcement. In the months ahead the months ahead, the NAACP and our allies in the civil rights community will continue to take these issues on as well as the urgent need to repeal stand-your-ground laws.

"Tonight our thoughts and prayers are with Trayvon’s family. We are grateful for the courage and tenacity of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin that continue to help shape a national movement for justice for their son and for all of America’s children.”

[Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET] In Florida, a charge of second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to CNN and HLN legal analysts. Florida does not offer the chance for parole for those convicted of the charge. The sentence would, however, take into account several mitigating and aggregating factors.

[Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET] Zimmerman is being held without opportunity for bail, but Zimmerman's lawyers are entitled to request a bond, Corey said. Once they do so, a bond hearing will be held, she told reporters.

[Updated at 6:16 p.m. ET] While Corey said that Zimmerman surrendered and is in the custody of authorities in Florida, she declined to say exactly where, citing concerns for the safety of Zimmerman "and everyone else."

[Updated at 6:12 p.m. ET] Corey said she wouldn't discuss what led her to file the second-degree murder charge, other than her conclusion is based on her review of the evidence.

Florida state attorney Angela Corey said she spoke with Trayvon Martin's parents before telling the media about the charge against Zimmerman.

[Updated at 6:07 p.m. ET] George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the February 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin, Corey said.

What happens now that Zimmerman is charged in Trayvon Martin death?

[Updated at 5:51 p.m. ET] George Zimmerman has turned himself in to law enforcement and is in custody in Florida, according to CNN legal analyst Mark NeJame.

Zimmerman also has a new attorney, Mark O'Mara, according to NeJame.

NeJame reported that Zimmerman, before he surrendered, was "out of the state of Florida, as I understand it, for his safety."

On Tuesday, Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.

[Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET] Florida Gov. Rick Scott has released a statement ahead of the special prosecutor's news conference:

"We are fortunate in our state that most Floridians and local civic leaders are law-abiding, responsible citizens who all want justice to prevail. No matter what State Attorney (Angela) Corey determines following her investigation of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I trust in the goodness of all Florida citizens to allow our justice system to reach an appropriate conclusion in this case."

[Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET] The parents of Trayvon Martin plan to hold a news conference after the special prosecutor makes her announcement.

Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, will be accompanied by their attorneys and the Rev. Al Sharpton in Washington, D.C., where the parents have been visiting a conference held by Sharpton's National Action Network.

[Updated at 3:07 p.m. ET] Many people in Sanford, Florida and around the world have been captivated by the Trayvon Martin case and have lent their support to Martin's family.

Upon hearing the news that special prosecutor Angela Corey was holding a press conference today to update the media, Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton tweeted that the case was in God's hands now.

[Updated at 3:02 p.m. ET] The office of special prosecutor Angela Corey has confirmed that a news conference updating the media on the Trayvon Martin case will begin at the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville, Florida at 6 p.m. ET.

[Updated at 2:51 p.m. ET]  Corey's office, which is investigating the Trayvon Martin shooting case, said that charges against George Zimmerman have not been filed. The office would not confirm whether the office planned to charge him, according to HLN's Josey Crews.

Earlier, CNN reported that Corey is expected to announce a decision Wednesday regarding whether she will file charges against Zimmerman, and a senior law enforcement source familiar with the Martin death investigation said that Zimmerman would be charged.

[Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET]  George Zimmerman “will be (criminally) charged if (he) hasn’t been charged already,” according to a senior law enforcement source familiar with the Trayvon Martin death investigation.

It's not clear what the charges would be.

[Initial post, 2:29 p.m. ET] A special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin shooting case is expected to announce a decision within the next four hours regarding whether she will file charges against George Zimmerman, CNN reports.

The news comes a day after attorneys for Zimmerman told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.

Police say Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, on February 26 in Sanford, Florida, after Martin began walking home from a convenience store. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic and was a neighborhood watch volunteer, had called 911 to complain about a suspicious person in the neighborhood.

Zimmerman told Sanford police the shooting was self-defense, and Zimmerman was released without charges. Authorities have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there were no grounds, at the outset, to disprove his account that he'd acted to protect himself.

But thousands converged on Sanford to join in protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest and criticizing the police department's handling of the case. Martin's death has triggered a nationwide debate about race in America and Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury.

soundoff (5,135 Responses)
  1. BinaryTruth

    File charges, send him to court – and if he's really not guilty – they will let him go free. But you know what will be different? Trayvon Martin's family will at least have that puny attempt at justice.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj

      It may be just for show at this point, but at least it's something. Just as important is that they should revisit this law.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • BEM684

      It will be very hard to find him not guilty if the whole world (who knows very little about what happened that night) are pounding on the door demanding he be hanged.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick©™

      It's going to be hilarious to see the face of propaganda machine such as Mountain Goat as his donation to Zimmerman's paypal account gets flushed down in toilet. This is a very simple case. It was only made complicated because a small minority of people (racists, ignorant people, misinformed,...etc) believe every word Zimmerman said, which created a very conflicting picture of what really happened based on evidence and witnesses. When the story is very shaky, you indict the man and let the jury decide. But the racists just want murdering blacks go unpunished.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • seehere

      I completely agree if the court of law finds him innocent or guilty, fine. But charge him and give him a trial. Don't just take his word for it.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • TG

      I find it extremely hard to believe that a hispanic male with African American friends was out looking to " Hunt " a " kid" ( 17 year old young man ) and execute him because he was African american. I find it extremely hard to believe that the police would just let a guy go they believed murdered someone ( Cops love arresting people and putting them in jail, evenwhen they dont do anything ). As far as cries for help, has anybody said whether that was after or before the shots??? I know that even grown men scream for help once they have been shot? Here are the facts as I know them. A young man was shot by another young man during a scuffle. Happens all over the country every single day, every single week, every single month. I trust that most of the time the police do a good job, and I tend to let them ( the proffesionals ) handle these matters. I believe that the media is promoting the reporting of opinions rather than facts. Here is a fact, becasue of the media and the undereducated average American, the Black Panthers have used the media to put a hit on an American civilian and nobody seems to care. Whether or not he did it is up to the Jury, not the Black Panthers. It scares me that this is allowed. Here is a fact, if I feel like my life or any of my family members' lives are in danger, it does ot matter if that threat is white black or brown, 10years old or 100 years old, rich or poor, I will use every fiber of my life energy to get rid of that threat, if I have a gun I will use every bullet, if I have a knife I will stab until my arms go tired. We are given one life and if somebody is a threat to tat I believe every human has the right to defend that.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • xx_Reality_101_xx

      Mob rule mentality... Only one witness and he/she supports Z's story. All of you idiots posting and ranting on assumptions, NO FACTS. Protests, looting, civil disobebience... all due to assumptions and race hate baiters. The US President, US congressman and women, TV networks, black panzees, comunity "activists" all screaming that Z is guilty, purely on assumptions, NO FACTS. Doctoring (!! calls, doctoring police video, calling a Hispanic a White... I truely hope Zman walks so he can sue everyone into the ground.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. smh

    about time

    April 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. derek

    hang the coward.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • dubrats

      this is still america...let the jury decide his fate....thankfully your not going to be one of them.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herman Cain

      Set him free to kill more thugs

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • xx_Reality_101_xx

      yea, hang him. No trial and nobody has any facts. Go back to flipping the burgers, the adults are talking here.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      You know what they say about "assume"....

      April 13, 2012 at 6:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. dubrats

    1st they have to find him.....what a circus our system has created....why was he not charged a month and a half ago?....what a joke.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. svann

    Washington post reported that she will indict.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl Jefferies

      She can't indict. Only a grand jury, which she has by-passed, can indict. She can charge. Big difference.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Becky

    What a joke.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mobious

    Cool.. Now I hope they also announce that they will file charges against the New Black Panthers.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • vince86

      They didn't kill anybody.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      For what? They didn't killed the coward yet.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      AND IF THEY DID IT WOULDN'T BOTHER ANYONE EXCEPT THE BLACK PANTHERS. no one cares what they say that's why there is not an uproar over there ridiculous bounty.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      If I were Zimmerman, I'd sue the black panthers, al "not-so" sharpton, jesse blackson, NBC, and others who have defamed, libeled, and slandered him.

      He should be found "not guilty" for the simple fact that the jury pool has been tainted by the OBVIOUS agenda of the media. Look up Daniel Adkins in Arizona & you'll see the SAME EXACT situaiton, but in reverse (black shooting hispanic) – yet the lamestream media refuses to report on that because it doesn't fit their agenda.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • nautiusm

      Eric Holder just gave a speach to Al Sharpton praising him. EH did not prosectue them when they were threatening people at the polling stations in MI. There's no way he's doing it now.

      This is truly a commentary of the state of the US. This administration has done more to racially divide this country that it goes against EVERYTHING MLK worked for.

      It's ironic that the Black panthers and Al Sharpton want to lynch this guy.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alex in NJ

    Ugh! Now I hope they press charges just for my own safety. I work in a predominantly black neighborhood and I have to be here later than usual tonight. If they don't press charges, I am honestly going to be nervous walking to my car later tonight. All these retaliation stories have me worried.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Sad to say but I understand your fear. We live in a world where riots and acting out is accepted and allowed instead of people asking for evidence of what happened. Then the people who act out call everyone else racist when the fact is they are the ones who are racist.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Somewherenks

      I question why wait until 6, seems like a poor decision.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • comeatmebro

      uhhh, please shut up, you sound like a heomeo

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herman Cain

      Carry a gun and blow them away if they attack you

      April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • IndeePendant

      You should move to FL, buy a gun and become a neighborhood watchman.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Plastics

      Now you know what it feels like for every person of color as they walk down the street of any town, at any time. We have been living with terror long before this country was formed...Furthermore, our terrorist have badges, white hoods, Law degrees, ect....

      April 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • xXAnonXx

      As well you should be, a 78 year old man was beat not but a week ago at most. The victim was a peach color while the oppressors were of the same skin tone as TM. They proportedly were saying things like " This is for TM' and "Ki|| this wh!te man" other things of that nature. BUT m s m didnt cover it.. shocked I am, no really /rolls eyes

      April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      @chris , you mean sort of like the riots that took place after Kentucky won the national championship, or the type of riots that happen anytime an nhl team wins the stanley cup? which type of riot are we speaking of?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • xx_Reality_101_xx

      Carry your weapon and stand your ground. Someone attacks you, defend tourself. Do act like such a sissy.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • tnwoman

      Well, Alex in NJ, YOU are a SILLY! Nobody is going to bother you unless YOU bother THEM. Why are you acting so NERVOUS? Are you afraid of ALL of those dozen Black Panthers? What is in your HEART? Treat people the way YOU want to be treated.

      Thank God, Zimmerman will be brought to JUSTICE. I hope he will be CONVICTED AND SERVE a LONG prison term. Trayvon didn't get to live out his YOUNG life so why should his MURDER go unpunished?

      GOD IS IN CONTROL!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dave

    Zimmerman to be charged with "Littering", and fined for the cost of clean up.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • dhondi

      he probably didn't pick up his casings.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pro_Equality

      ANOTHER RACIST.. YOU WOULDN'T DARE SEE IN A BLACK PERSONS FACE.. BIG BALLS ON THE INTERNET

      April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    It's about time! What a farce the criminal justcie system apparently is in Florida and that little redneck town!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • xXAnonXx

      The only farce I see is how the media once again whips the country into a racial firestorm over this. WHEN day in and day out there is b|ack on b|ack crime and b|ack on wh!te crime, and NOBODY reports that. I mean seriously this is more one sided that a shark attacking a seal.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. G. Clinton

    The Washington Post is reporting that charges are going to be filed... will be interesting to see how this developes

    April 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Unknown

    CNN is a little bit behind. It is already released that they will file charges.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. malcolm jones

    OMG CNN, It's just been announced that the special prosecutor plans on chargin Zimmerman

    April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TonyAtlanta

    Bye Bye George Zimmerman think about what you did to Trayvon Martin in prison.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nope

    Donated $100 to Zimmerman, with the promise of $50 for each additional one he takes out.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Risse

      You're an idiot and a coward!! Why dont you take yourself out of your own misery! ZIMMERMAN IS GOING DOWN HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • emmy

      what an a..hole you r nope y dont u call urself dope i dont know what makes u think u own the world u came into this world just like everyone else did u hate urself y dont u kill urself and rid the world of ur hatefulness.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      including your mother and daughter.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • YoungBlackMale

      Someone should kill you for free.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • tnwoman

      @nope:

      You probably DON'T have $2 let alone $150.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
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