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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Wheres my post ?

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

    OBAMA doesnt care about white people

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

    I wish reporters would stop saying Zimmerman was a "neighborhood watch volunteer." His neighborhood DID NOT have an officially sanctioned Neighborhood Watch group. The national Neighborhood Watch organization confirms this. Zimmerman's group was just a bunch of loose cannons trying to patrol their neighborhood without rules, policies or guidance, and Zimmerman was just a repeat solo gun-toting vigilante crusader who saw it as his sole duty to patrol and enforce justice in this neighborhood. In no way recognized by anybody was he a "neighborhood watch volunteer."

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

    Finally law and order will run it's course and Zimmerman will be required to take personal responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hardryv

    You need to listen to some non-Fox news if you want to hear any that isn't biased and hand-picked.

    .. davia55 - only if you think the lynch mob is the justice system, and even then there has been no conviction as of yet.
    .. ron - did you watch the videos and listen to the audio? 2nd deg mrdr was the right charge and it's nearly unfathomable that it somehow would not stick

    ... and now for the obvious racists:
    .. registered clone - if you die in a fire I bet *that* won't make the news - you see, they only care if you're human
    .. mike... if b-on-w violence is so high why not capitalize on it like a good Republican and make a website about it (btw, it isn't that high)
    .. nb... you sir (I'm assuming that crack emerged from testosterone) are smoking crack - after the Florida elections of 2000 we needed a riot and didn't get one... that f'd up state needs it's ass kicked for the crap that comes out of it - give Republicans too much overreaching power and you get a state like FL

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

      Wrong! read the 782 of the Florida code. Second Degree does not apply, voluntary manslaughter does.

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

    strange laws u have in that country. A guy calls 911 and clearly states he is following a kid. The kid get shot and dies and the man gets off because he claims self defense. how can he claim self defense when he even tells the 911 operator he is following him. Would the boy not be the one who is trying to defend himself? I will never go to that country to afraid of strange laws.

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

      English and grammar needs work, then I'll respond to your stupidity

      April 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeyHey

      you have no comprehension of self reliance let alone self defense

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

      Gary, you and I don't know what happened that night. Please remember, there is a possibility that after Zimmerman began following Martin, Martin behaved aggressively and Zimmerman did indeed save his own life by shooting Martin. Just because Person A follows Person B, Person A is not allowed by law to beat that person until he dies.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ug

    The media circus continues and this fat lady in red really needs to get out of the way of things she is so fat!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. brian in dc

    Better not have the trial on the first of the month, no one will show up.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Simply Me.

    A great Day for the COLOREDS !

    April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jim mccarthey

    OMG ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??????? WELL WHAT ABOUT THIS VIDEO??? ARE WE GOING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS ????

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/crime/2012/04/09/tsr-sylvester-man-beaten-baltimore.cnn

    MUST WATCH!!!!!!! MUST WATCH!!!!!! MUST WATCH!!!!!!!! MUST WATCH !!!!!!!!!!!!!! MUST WATCH!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Myopinioncounts

    Listening to her I'm sorry the government outside the jurisdictional law enforcement stepped in to contain counter actions by mobs. I can tell by what she is saying this is a political move period.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. James

    Not surprised that this decision was made. Can you imagine how much hatred Corey would have towards her if she wouldn't have charged him? Its sad that a man who was only protecting himself is now in jail.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Laurel

    Have to hand it to Sharpton, he said there is no gloating. He better tell that to the lawyer Crump, he has been gloating and
    quite frankly rather creepy to watch.

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

      no kidding. What the heck is "Jest-Us"? Crump has said that about a dozen times, he's just after Jest-Us?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Felicia

    It would be nice if the media used a current photo of Trayvon Martin instead of the juvenile one they are posting and a more serious one of George Zimmerman instead of the one with him and a big smile. So incredibly bias.

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

    And we wonder why people are so raceist.....what side of the street do you walk on when men of another race is on your side. Oh and Al Sharpton....I don't recall him backing a white person.....hummmm.....

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

      thats dumb! Why would a BLACK activist help a white person?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Y

      He wouldn't because he's raceist

      April 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
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