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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    "As a nation, we’ve got to address the issues of racial profiling and the valuation of black mens’ lives by law enforcement."

    Hey I have an idea. As a nation, we've got to STOP TURNING THINGS INTO A RACIAL ISSUE WHEN RACE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT TO BEGIN WITH.

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

    no way it will stick...the evidence is just not around to convict on a reasonable doubt and surely not a second degree charge.....political move through and through

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

    White people should now threaten to RIOT and BURN THE STATE OF FLORIDA! Worked for the stupid unemployed black people didn't it.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*jasmine

      Sorry hun, but I have a job. You are very rude.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*damien666

      Have you seen the movie rosewood when a white woman accused a black man of raping her and how white men went towns where black people lived and were hanging black men and women and killing their children and when it was all said done she was having an affair don't forget the things that white people have done before you try to point your finger at another race .

      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Harrism1112

    Its amazing how much media coverage this has gotten. I would like to refer back to the Casey Anthony trial. That case and this case here only got a large uproar about them because of the media. The media is taking sides on whether or not this man is guilty and is swaying the opinion of the public. No one has stopped to think that maybe Martin did actually do something wrong. NO! He has always been pictured as this innocent 12 year old kid that liked to play football. He was close to 18, if I'm not wrong. That is old enough to be making decisions that can get you in trouble.
    I feel bad for Zimmerman, because solely because of the media, this man will never have a life because the MEDIA has already painted the picture that this man is a murderer.

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

      Your post brings to mind that the Elephant in the red dress, is pushing to charge a 12 year old as an adult with murder in another case. But when a 17 year old batters a mans head in... nah that isn't attempted murder HE HAD SKITTLES ON HIM.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LetsMakeThisABigAssCivilRightsCase

    I have an idea...let's make this a big assed civil rights case that will rock the nation into re-electing Barack Obama for president!

    Does that sound like an original idea?

    I bet he will win the presidency too when all is said and done.

    I also predict that Anderson Cooper of CNN will make this the biggest damned thing we've ever heard about on the planet so that no one will talk about anything else except how Mr. Martin was killed.

    And still, who among us knows if this story is even true.

    America the Gullible
    You eat up the lies like candy.

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

    Cyber-bullies, how cute! Gosh, the internet sure brings out the best in people. I often come here to see how many comments it takes before people start fighting. Four is the average amount... we're so civilized.

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

    if we just threaten to put bountys on all whites and threaten riots,protest daily....laws don't matter much these days....sadly.

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

      You mean laws like against murder?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    What a piece of racist BS is being posted on CNN. People have the right to defend themselves from racist thugs like "Travon" without the whole racist community chiming in. He's a thug plain and simple and had no business in that gated community without the intention of depriving people of their belongings as most thugs do. You can't just punch someone in the face and break their nose because your racist self didn't like what he heard. It's called "Assault and Battery" and any other outcome of this will prove how racist the media are. Where is the assault and battery charge???

    April 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • DREAM15X

      You are surprisingly ignorant.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • deutsche001

      How is Trayvon a thug? He did belong in that community.
      Zimmerman profiled him as a punk and followed him.
      Are you going to let me foloow you in your neighborhood.
      Trayvon had no abrasions or bruises on his hands when he was buried!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      He was visiting his father who lived in the gated community. You should read the whole story before you post.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • angelrose2562

      @Paul....but its ok to chase someone with a gun? If someone was chasing you with a gun and stopped you to ask you what you were doing in your parent's neighborhood, WITH A GUN would you not be scared? Would you not think you life was in danger? Would you not want to STAND YOUR GROUND? Who cares what his picture looks like? Or his twitter page? One thing you should already know about the internet is that people act a whole lot "harder" and bad a ** behind the screen and you can never take someone's online persona as their REAL one. At least I hope the majority of the a ** hole posters on here aren't like this in real life!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nero

      Zimmerman is a racist bigot and should have already be lynched by an angry mob

      April 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • adriana

      really? he is a thug?? what the hell are you talking about? just because his black he has to be a thug??? peple LIKE YOU MAKE ME WANT TO VOMIT!
      and have you see the picture of zimmerman compare to Trayvon? zimmerman is 200lbs fatter and heavier than Trayvon...even if travyon would have punched him..that gives him no right to shoot him...he could have punched trayvong back or hold him down..MR ZIMMERMAN IS A BIG BOY AND COULD TAKE CARE OF HIMSELF INSTEAD OF BEING A COWARD AND USING HIS GUN . THATS LIKE SHOOTING SOMEONE FROM THE BACK!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • TEFU

      @Paul...ummmm...wasn't Travon living in that 'gated community' when he was followed and gunned down? What do you mean when you say he had no business being there?? You sound like the type of person that would commit an unjust and unprovoked crime just as this solely based on the fact that someone 'looks' like they don't belong in a certain community. Let me ask you a question, if you were innocently walking down the street, and some strange person is following you for no reason at all, and with a gun at that, and then this person proceeds to step out of their vehicle to confront you with a gun, how would you react?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kenneth

      See this is where you are misinformed and simply wrong... He was staying in that community and was walking home. He had EVERY right to be in that neighborhood. The question is why was he followed by Zimmerman. Are hoodies so dangerous a piece of clothing that they must be followed by self-appointed neighborhood watch captains with guns? Or is there a possibility that race played into this? I want to see the trial play itself and justice be truly served according to the evidence, not hearsay from misinformed internet browsers, such as yourself Paul.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Royalew/Cheese

      He did have business, its called visiting his father's fiancee

      April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TriXen

    You know, it's funny, I haven't met that many racist white people in my life, but I've met many racist blacks. I wonder why that is... I guess racism is acceptable as long as it's the minorities who are racist and not the other way around.

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

      Thats dumb

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

      That's funny because if you look in the mirror you will see a racist.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • joewhite

      Whites must be forever the subject of racism to pay for the past injustice of slavery.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • adriana

      I HOPE YOU ARE BEING SARCASTIC OTHERWISE YOU SOUND DUMB! THEY ARE ALOT OF RACIS WHITE PEOPLE...I CAN MAKE A LIST...BUT I WILL START WITH PAUL AND THE KK....

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

      Ask yourself this simple question....How many racist names have Whites created in order to describe blacks? Now, how many racist names have blacks created in order to describe whites? It appears that “whites” have invested more time finding ways to put down and or degrade the black race...

      April 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • TEFU

      I agree with you on one point, i haven't met many whites who are racists face to face...and what i mean by this is that i haven't met many whites who are 'openly' and 'publicly' racist! But when no one is looking...or no one can identify who you are...guess what!! Just look at some of the hateful comments coming from some people on boards like these. I guarantee you, alot of these people would never openly express the same racist sentiment that they express behind 'closed doors'. I see it all the time.....

      April 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gary

    Here is a link to the George Zimmerman Defense Fund:

    http://therealgeorgezimmerman.com/Home_Page.php

    April 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gary

    George Zimmerman Defense Fund:

    http://therealgeorgezimmerman.com/Home_Page.php

    April 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. 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 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Robert

    It's amazing how the head of the NAACP has rushed to judgement that "the wheels of justice have just begun to turn." Was he there? Did he see what happened? And what will he do if a jury aquits Zimmerman? Will he incite a riot unsatisfied that justice has not prevailed until it's the justice that HE thinks it ought to be... even though he wasn't there and even though he didn't see it? It's amazing. It's the same group of people who thought O.J. was innocent even though they weren't there and even though they didn't see it. The amazing thing to me is how they seem to think that it's other people who are the raciests.

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

    Idiot prosecutor. George Zimmerman was doing his duty, protecting the people of his community, when he was VICIOUSLY AND VIOLENTLY ATTACKED by Trayvon Martin.

    He was ripped from his car, and the teenage beast was pounding Zimmerman's head against the pavement repeatedly. George did the only thing that a reasonable person would do; he used lethal force to protect his life from the vicious assault.

    FREE GEORGE ZIMMERMAN. LEGALIZE SELF DEFENSE.

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

      Did you even read the whole story before you posted? You should try it some time, makes you sound less stupid.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • deutsche001

      How was he attacked??? He followed a young kid. Trayvon had no abrasions or bruises on his hands when he wars buried.
      Zimmerman was a wannabe that only felt like a man while carrying a gun.
      His defense fund also states that he could not work because of this. Heck he was unemployed!
      He got away with it because of who he is related to, not because he is innocent.

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

      LETS TURN THE TABLES HERE??
      IF IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A WHITE TEENAGER SHOT BY A BLACK MAN HE WOULD HAVE BEEN ARRESTED ON THE SPOT! THE REASON WHY HE IS ARRESTED NOW IS BECAUSE PEOPLE RALLY AND PROTESTED AND REALIZED THIS WAS WRONG MR ZIMMERMAN TO SHOOT TRAYVON.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. amac

    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."

    I hope the president of the NAACP has access to facts the rest of the public does not, because as of this moment there is NO PROOF brought forward that Travon Martin was racially profiled.

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