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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Race Riots in Miami? Hahaha there would be no more monkeys. lol

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. patrick

    big deal

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bibleverse1

    It is sad there would have been no further investigation or thought or any action of law authorities into this incident without the intervention of concerned citizens. Without protest from ordinary people concerned that the law nothing further would have even been considered. I am not sure of the facts in this case nor do I pretend to understand the law in an expert capacity I would like to know those in positions of public trust have done their duty and those who do not will be punished.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dave

    Its amazing how whites complain about blacks pulling the race card when 95% of the racist comments are being posted by whites towards blacks.How can we expect blacks to feel any different when we are posting childish, mean spirited, bigoted rants on an entire race of people? If blacks "never learn" then its fair to say we are in serious denial of ourselves and of the climate of hate we perpetuate in this country and in many places all over the world.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shree50s

    Why did it seem that this special prosecutor was all too happy with her announcement ?

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sometruthplease

      Because she'll live to see another day!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      After this travesty is played out hopefully she will be disbarred. This is a miscarriage of justice. The was a direct eye witness to the altercation. Everything else is just hearsay...I think thgere should be an effort to have this lady disbarred in Florida for locking up a very apparent innocent man.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      cnn sucks!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      I'll say it again. . . cnn sucks

      April 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      I'll say it again and again and again. . . cnn sucks

      April 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      Hear this: cnn sucks.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      This is a reply to Shree50s and a test. Where will cnn post this comment?

      cnn sucks . . . . cnn sucks!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      This is another test . . .where will cnn post this comment?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      Leave a Reply to Shree50s
      Click here to cancel reply.

      Okay here is my reply
      cnn sucks

      but cnn will post this somewhere else. . . cnn sucks

      April 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. glorydays

    This is the correct action. The courts can now decide.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      Exactly, that should have happened to begin with. If a jury found him not guilty so be it but all the evidence should be presented to a jury.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. xcrafter

    sad day makes me sick cant take no more of this crap

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil McCrackin

      Unfortunately, where the ignorant are given what they want, they just ask for MORE!! Trust me, Obama would have ket appointing "Special" prosecutors until some ding bat charged Zimmerman and calmed down the natives.

      It's great to be black. You're off all day, everyday and yet you get the same benefits that people who work ALL DAY get. I wonder why?????????

      April 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. QMAX1234

    If George Bush was in office Zimmerman would take over Martin Luther Kings Birthday. But Obama is there and a decent man is in Jail. A travesty of justice

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • caitthegrait

      And an innocent child is dead. Get your facts right. All darkness will come to light when it comes to Zimmerboy. It's only a matter of time.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donald Horn

      An innocent child is dead and his killer is in jail.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      His father is a joo and that is why this murderer wasn't initially charged with a crime. The joos think they can kill anyone and get away with it, especially in Florida. I say send them all to zionist israel where they have citizenship. We would be better off without them here.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      A wanna be cop who took the law in to his own hands, a vigilante, with a hard on to shoot someone.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason dumont

      I would rather be in jail than dead any day of the week. And as for your good man statement... well if u take a quick look at his criminal record... he is far from a good man. He just happens to know the right people in the legal system.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      So you know all the facts unlike the rest of us... wonderful!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tom Phelps

    Wonder how much Corey charges to haunt a house?

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dw

    This would be a good time if you have one of those winning lottery tickets to quietly come forward. All of the oxygen for the next 2 days of news is going to be all used up on Zimmerman and the upcoming charges.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Phil McCrackin

    Spike Lee should be very proud of himself right now. He just endeared himself to the dumbest 15% of our population. Way to go Spike!!

    To celebrate you should all go out and punch white people in the face.

    What a great day for America. I feel like I did the day they let OJ walk . . . coincidentally, so do thugs!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. udub

    Trevon had to have felt his life was in danger too. Before being approached and attacked.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Larry

    If George Bush was in office Zimmerman would take over Martin Luther Kings Birthday. But Obama is there and a decent man is in Jail. A travesty of justice

    DUDE!!!!! I SO AGREE WITH YOU. ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      decent . . . . .? are you kidding. zimmerman is a murderer and a liar.

      He thought he could get away with murder because his dad is a joo and an ex-judge.

      zimmerman will get his justice in jail – in the butt – dang shame we just can't lynch after he is found guilty.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jim weber

    HE WILL WALK

    April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lee

    Klaas Jan: You are an idiot...If i says that White people do so much crime and everything is done in secret. You never know what's in their basement, fridge, trunk....Are deacons in churches, pastors etc...How would you feel? All those are true anyways...All the police offices are bloody liars, i don't see any blood on his closes, He killed TM 7:17 and it took them almost 45mins to get him to the station (which is abt 15mins way)...The made up stories, straight up lies...
    So for you to say that black people are the ones that commit so much crime makes you an idiot, and you need to take a look at your self (inward)...You need serious prayers and thank God for the judgement...He shld stay in prison like he belongs...

    April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
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