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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    yeah fry his racist ass

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Maybe you should move to Iran where they don't tolerate others that are different from themselves.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • sortakinda

      And what is NOT racist about YOUR statement? Oh, you just like EVERYTHING fried?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ryan

    This dude is done for because of the media. There's no way that he will fare jury after all the media hype. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the actual evidence is instead of what Al Sharpton thinks........

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jane

    I truly hope that the truth will be found, whatever it may be, but unfortunately, I don't hold out much hope for it. Please consider the hateful racist remarks here could have been planted to drive the rhetoric. Ignore them to further the debate among reasonable people.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Emma

    Dirty black animals are always whining and complaining about something. Always wanting a handout.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big B

      Hey Emma suck a Big black one and died stupid

      April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Where's George?

    Does anyone know where Zimmerman has been hiding out? He's so guilty I can smell it from New York. His actions speak louder than his words. If you shot someone to save your own life, you have NO GUILT, NO REMORSE...but Zimmerman claims he's distraught and emotionally upset, remorseful, etc. Sorry....it just doesn't wash out. I'm glad the prosecutor saw fit to charge him...and I hope it's with murder or manslaughter at the very least. Zimmerman (wanna be cop) went out ARMED, lookin' for trouble – and MURDERED this kid. End of story.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigDizzle

      Even at war people feel guilty about killing other people. People like to act like they would be able to just go about their lives if they killed someone eating their normal food and sleeping like a baby but that just isn't true.

      Not saying Zimmerman is innocent, but he certainly isn't guilty yet so please put your remarkable ability of knowing exactly how a person thinks to the side until the guy has had his day in court.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I don't agree it's the end of story just because you said is. But the story or stories should be presented in front of a court and let the jury decide. Bring that man in front of a court is the only way to get him freedom if he didn't do wrong or get the proper punishment if he did wrong.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JRH

    Let justice do its job, and he will either be found innocent or guilty. But when you kill an unarmed fellow human – even if he is wearing a hoodie, you need to answer for it.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      simple logic, everyone has the right to ask for this if the victim is one of their own family. I would not want someone who shoots me to go free just because he says he acted in self defense.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jaxbug

    It's about time. I think George Zimmerman's website is a ploy to raise money to flee the country. His self defense claim went out the window when he began pursuing Trayvon. Gee if it was that easy a lot of people would pursue, shoot, and claim self defense. That is exactly what George Zimmerman did per the 911 call. You no longer can claim self defense in this situation when you begin following someone. I am glad Angela Corey is going to give Trayvon's family the justice they deserve!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Glass house

    CNN's non-stop front paging posting of this story I am sure contributed to the charges being brought. The nauseating non-stop CNN coverage, headlines no less for two weeks, has been ridiculous.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • sortakinda

      Maybe more like "in spite of CNN's campaign" IF it actually does happen. This is premature at best. Irresponsible in any case.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John Barker

    Florida needs to change the law "stand your ground". There was a reason it was enacted in the first place. Repeal it , plain and simple, until then, Mr. Zimmerman cannot be charged. Way too much time as lapsed since the incident, so lets try something different. What a totally screwed up system of justice in this country.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big B

      Bob Barker you sound like ur mad dude. get over it because his ass is grass an Angela Corey is the lawn mower

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Randy

    Let's just let this play out. He will be charged and arranged. At the arrangement he can waive his rights and have it go to trial. Hopefully he will and his legal counsel will not do that. As with everyone that has heard about this case, read a story, or received someones opinion he will be judged by his peers. Al Sharpton needs to stay in New York, and keep his mouth shut, Jesse Jackson needs to stay out of it. You have two old guys who are trying to stay in the mainstream because their 15 minutes of fame is over.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. awetmedic

    Littering would fit. Anything else is bogus.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      If someone goes out and shoots one of your family, would you demand he be tried in front a court and judged by a jury of his peers, or would you take his words that he's not guilty, he acted in self defense, or whatever reasons he gave ?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Julie

    Isn't that a picture of Zimmerman's celebrity lawyer not Zimmerman himself? Confused.....

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sortakinda

    The CNN Headline should read: WE NOW GUESS ZIMMERMAN WILL BE CHARGED AS WE AGITATED FOR SINCE MARCH-even though the shooting took place in February. MORE when we know what we're talking about.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. whta

    This sucks. If you are attacked by a white man, go ahead and shoot him in self- defense. If attacked by a black person, go ahead and let them KILL YOU. If you dare shoot, the media and the public will get your @$$ in the electric chair.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sirned

    It's about time....

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
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