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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    The arrest of Zimmerman is correct; the courts need to figure this out. My concern now is can Sharpton and Jessie Jackson shut up and crawl back into the drug hood they came out of. The Black ( we are always victims) community has shouted loudly but if this man is found innocent are they going to scream "we are always victims" and the white man judge let Zimmerman go. The only way this ends peacefully is if Zimmerman is found guilty and put to death, anything else will just have Sharpton acting like the biggot and racist he IS and start another 'march across the bridge'. Sharpton and Jackson would do better if they try to help the black folk get educated and get off food stamps and crack.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. colliersf

    WHat a joke Blacks and Gays complain until they get what they want. White males are the minority in this country. All these beating blacks have given on video to whites and Cnn never covers it like this. Country is so screwed up.. Black Panthers threatened to get him so where are charges against them?

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

      You comments are off base and stupid.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      True. Where was Al Sharpton when that white dude in Baltimore was getting mugged, beaten and robbed on camera?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Franky

    I'm black, his parents need to ditch Sharpton and Jackson, let them work from a distance, but they are not going to win sympathy with some "whites" , those 2 , wrong or right, are a lightening rod for controversy, which is not what you need in terms of jury selection.

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

      I agree.The parents have legitimate concerns, but Sharpton is irrelevant.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AJ

    and absentee parents who only notice when their juvenile deliquent son get killed all rejoice!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. scott

    Idiots, all of you....Nancy Brad is a setup by CNN to get all of you to respond

    April 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Starquelius

    Politically motivated prosecutor, trying to make a name for herself, on the back of this case. Why is this fraud smiling during the interview? The real news here is it's now ok to basically beat the crap out of anyone in Florida, oh but you better not fight back because if they get hurt, your a$$ is going to jail!

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

      Let me get this straight...This man follow this teen...ended up getting jumped on and then the teen screams for help repeatedly before being shot? Yea..OK...Justice4Trayvon!!!! Thank God!

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

      WRONG! you cannot just go up and beat someone, unless your black, otherwise you'd be breaking the law.

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

      The dude didn't get hurt man....He died/got killed, however you want to look at it. If they are charging the dude with 2nd degree they obviously feel like they have a case. Is there some pressure to convict? Of course there is but the prosecutors must feel confident they can prove his guilt. The defense will try to prove his innocence and if he's not guilty of murder he will be let go. It seems like you're saying there shouldn't even be a trial so all of the facts can be presented.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Edith Karczag

    The media says this is a "child". What is a child doing out on the streets /UR right,Mr.Rivera, covering his head in the Florida heat w/ a hood/?..hmmmm.. Where are the parents?! WHY are they not arrested?????letting a minor child walk the street at those late hours?... Why they were not summoned by the school , when school authorities found marijuana, EXESSIVE /or any/ jewelry??????? in this "child's" locker????!!!! How come this so called "child" was not EXPELLED from school?!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Enough of this garbage, regardless of this vigilanty/whatever neighbourhood watchman.But I know one thing, if I had volenteered /and I do a lot of things/, I would have a pepper spray at least , a knife?...yes..I dispise guns.
    Angela Cory, she sounds like a corrupt politician , a fake, she said: "these sweet parents"...ha??!!! WHAT???..She does not know the parents, their history.....I never hear white parents w/ thir kids in trouble in school, or on the streets called "sweet parents"...she is an actress? butkisr?. I hope someone will sue the school, I hope the parents will be able to account for all the jewelry, the marijuana their son kept at the school locker, or let those so called parents GO GO GO go to jail. Wher did this "child" live? this minor? NOT WITH HIS PARENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the anger a child like this have built up inside him....Hey its the parents fault. May his Soul rest in peace.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • djonas

      Just because he may not have been the best of kid doesn't give zimmerman the right to kill him

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

      Edith, you are an idiot and a bully. He was 17 and it was alittle after 7pm when he was shot. He was not in violation of any curfew and it was not even late at night. As far as the marijuana, its nothing any different than what alot of rich white kids have in high school as well. Only difference is their parents have lawyers that get them off. There was no "excessive" jewelry found .Thirdly, he was suspended from school and not expelled, big difference. There is nothing to charge the parents with and you'd have to be a total moron to think so. But its apparent bullies attack those who cannot defend themselves. My question to you is, why are you more concerned about the petty past of a minor, and not the criminal past of an adult???

      April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • jerry

      This will fade away like the Kelly Thomas public execution last summer in Fullerton Ca at the hands of the Fullerton police. The Sanford corrupt police chief who covered this crime will walk away with his DISABILITY PENSION.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl Falzone

      Wow with all that said, you ended with may his soul rest in peace.....Now that was FAKE !!!!! ......

      April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • missaah

      You're an idiot...If you've read all the details of this case you wouldn't be asking these silly questions. First of all, it was raining that night so a HOOD would make since. It was only 8pm, you mean to tell me you've never walked to the store as a teen? He was shot in a GATED community. Going back home. So all these questions and accusations at a teen who went to the store and back home? If this were your child you'd be beside yourself. Because he's a black youth you want to demonize him. Not the case. God does not like ugly and at the end of the day, all you bigots and hateful people will get your just desserts.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • tia

      It was raining. Know the facts! He was old enough to go to the store at that time of the evening. He was chased down by someone he did not know asking him question about what he was doing there. Ask yourself what would you do if that happen to you? I walk my subdivision and I would hope that no one will question my reason for walking. That is a shame that all you are looking at that he was beating this man. You should be a shamed. That grown man was told by the authorities when he was on foot to not follow him, but he did. He is nothing but a vigilante trying to be a police with NO training.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • DONTBMAD

      I guess because a he was suspended from school he deserved to be killed???? IF its was your son, brother, or father killed would your post still be the same????

      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      Edith you sound like a fool that you are. Anyone under the age of 18 is a child. And I'm pretty sure when you were 17 you walked to the store by yourself. May your soul rest in peace, you bitter hag. It doesn't matter if he smoked crack, or had cocaine in his locker. No one can speak for the dead. If your child was dead, you would want an investigation, not the word of a person who killed your kid. Watch what you say, Karma doesn't discriminate.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ArtInChicago

    Yea. Masterful presentation by the special prosecutor, but she couldn't bite one of the hands that feeds her. Public pressure was the reason she stood before us today, plain and simple.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. angelrose2562

    You know what I find funny? All of the people on here who told me "I didn't know the evidence," "you are just believing what the media tells you and they are withholding facts favorable to Zimmerman," and my favorite "you weren't there, you don't know anything." Now these same people are complaining about charges being brought against Zimmerman because there IS NO EVIDENCE HE DID ANY WRONGDOING...wait, let me tell you: YOU WEREN'T THERE! STOP BELIEVING THE MEDIA, THEY ARE WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE, YOU DON'T KNOW! Obviously you all were right about one thing: There IS evidence not released to the media, but it is NOT in favor of Zimmerman! He killed someone and should be punished. Trayvon Martin STOOD HIS GROUND, and Zimmerman was the aggressor from the start.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. White America

    Obama will probably steal things from the white house when his term is up....typical

    April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tired of the BS

      Spoken like a true Republican clans man. Did you stay up all night cutting out the holes in your sheet?

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

      Just like your Mother who left her stolen underware in my room!!
      OBAMA 2012!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • larper2

      Your Reagan tried to steal the white house china and keep the dresses that were given to her for wearing to state functions.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • RowdyD

      Yeah and Romney will steal from all the white people and store it all up for his 7 wives....typical!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tyzao

    I believe Justice Scalia has most recently defended the right to bear arms, as the right to defend oneself. I don't agree that guns should be legal for private use anywhere in the US, but based on the current interpretation of the Second Amendment, I don't see how the rationale used by the Florida Assistant Attorney has any logic. She essentially has indicated that Zimmerman used the arm to defend himself, but did not have the right to use deadly force. This indictment appears to be little more than a politically motivated action, by an overly aggressive Assistant AG. This seems to have more to do with Scott getting selected than with Justice being served.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeannie

    Now maybe justice can be served. Let the FACTS and EVIDENCE be presented in a court of law. Im so sick of hearing people whine about race and some stupid pictures and how old they are in them. My question is why wasnt the case properly investigated in the FIRST place. Why did he take Al Sharpton and JJ to come on to the scene to get the national attention? So he was charged and the evidence will be presented..why anyone would be angry about this is beyond me, Im white and I hear more white people angry as can be that he was charged...I dont get it.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Laurel

    She said too much information has been put before the public in this case, so how is he going to get a fair trial. If she is going to fight the 'stand your ground' law, this is obviously/probably why she brought him in. This is Rodney King all over. Zimmerman is already deemed guilty by the fact they brought him in. Everything will depend on the recording.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jerry

      This will fade from the media and the parents will settle and sign a non disclosure agreement. The cover up has now been squashed.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gan lovah

    This is exactly why everybody needs to have a gun. Imagine if Martin was carrying a AK47 and wearing body armor. Imagine if the neighbours had bazookas that night. Damn. Guns for ALL!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bev Lewis

    In all fairness, I believe it's time for black america in particularly, black american males to step to the plate and be counted. Time out for the times a black male had to avoid certain neighborhoods because of his color; not being able to run down a street, any street carrying anything without being looked upon as a thief etc. I think complacency has become outdated.

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

      And for white Americans being able to walk into an black neighborhood without threat. Oh yeah, that will never happen.

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