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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    At least they are actually bringing someone to justice.....they let baby killer off so I figured they would just do the same with this killer.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PanzerJager

    I hope the mexicans win the race war against the blacks

    April 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. brian in dc

    Meanwhile in Oregon another "flash mob" consisting of Trayvons looted another convenience store.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charles

    From what I have seen from the last month, the New Bl ack Pa nthe rs were allowed to brazenly walk about intimidating the citizens of that Florida city. They knew full well that white people are sca red to dea th of the Bl ack Pa nthers. What will be next? Are they going to head up the special ar my Obama spoke of in his election run? Sure Zimmerman will be made an example of, again the fear of the Pan thers by the hapless whites, Zimmerman will lose – even though there is equal amount of pro & con for a conviction. There is not enough to prove he is guilty, once again, just the fear of the Bl ack Pant hers running wild

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

      If white people are afraid of the black panthers it's no different than how blacks used to fear the kkk

      April 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. the law

    If it turns out zimmerman had no head trauma or broken nose you'd still believe him. Florida really is Americas wang

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

      Just like any other America – Zimmerman is Innocent until proven guilty. Like it or not that is the way the law is supposed to work. Proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Martin Sheriff Joe is right

    Watch these videos, and you will see that Obama is a hollow, teleprompter president with no depth and meaningless, empty words:

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/04/obama-speeches-exactly-same-a-year-apart/?cat_orig=politics

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

      FAIL

      April 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • jnpa

      Get a life!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • amused123

      Off topic, moron.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Troll Alert

    People, please stop patronizing the attention-seeking-loser trolling under different womens' name (Nancy, Joan, etc.) He thinks that might bring legitimacy – little does he realize that his vocabulary gives him away. Not to mention that he's likely never even gotten near a real woman, they've probably fled before he had half the chance. The poor sot probably just hasn't been laid in a long time – even his pet goat turns him away.

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

    The lawyer Crump is creepy.

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

    ONLY in AMERICA do you practice your rights and get thrown in JAIL for it! FU America!

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

      In America we do not have the right to walk home from the store with Skittles?

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

      It's you "right" to shoot unarmed young black men?

      Idiot

      April 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    As many white people as possible should goto the neigborhoods near the court house and riot its time for us to stand up to these monsters and animals.

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

      Go ahead. Stand Up. Thats your right. BUT its a new day. This is not the 60s.

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

      Sure, y'all go over there. We'll fit the both of you into a nice little cell and y'all can become really good friends.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. udub

    In 3 years Zimmerman will be the sweetest man in all of Florida. karma

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

    Looks like the prosecutor is over reaching on the 2nd degree murder charge. Manslaughter seems to be a more reasonable charge in this situation.

    Regardless of what happens, This is a no win situation for all involved... well except the Sharpton, Jackson, and all the lawyers.

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

    All you bigots better sit back and comment and use your right to free speech. Go ahead. It doesn't do anything but display your ignorance. But you know whats best for you.

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

    Obama hates Hispanics. He is at war with the Hispanic community.

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

      You obviously need help. Enough said

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

      No he just hates you......lol to funny

      April 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      I do not think so!! At war with Illegals of all races!! if you do not like it the go live in another country because we live to have freedom here not Illegals!! It is time to start a hunt and either go home or go under Your CHOICE!!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Keri

    Reading all these comments on here make me very sad. I understand the rage that most have about this case wether you are black or white or hispanic. What boggles my mind is the negative comments towards Trayvon. He was innocent no matter how you want to swing it. He was not breaking and entering he wasnt robbing anyone, he was coming from the store and was killed because he "looked" like he was up to no good. You people with the negative comments about a deceased young man that has no voice in this are sickening. Please look in the mirror before you call someone a thug, like really do you know the definition of a thug? And did you know Trayvon personally to call him a thug? I bet the answer is NO. Mr. Zimmermans day in court is coming and we just have to wait on the outcome.

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

      Did you read Trayvon's twitter posts and see his picture. He was a thug and a bully. He even admitted to beating a Bus driver.
      Don't go by that 5 year old picture, go by his recent twitter picture he was a 6'3" giant who toward over GZ. Luckily GZ used it on Trayvon before he could steal it and use it on GZ and others.

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