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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Al Sharpton and Obama have stink on their hands. This smells of a political move in an election year.

    I can't imagine how Sharpton is helping anyone get justice. He's not about justice – he's a race baiter. A Master baiter at that.

    I can't see how Zimmerman is going to get a fair trial given all the mainstream media negative publicity – all the news toilets keep running pictures of the kids when he was 10yrs old – not the thug at 17.

    Obama in 2012? Seriously? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4nvhAZ0vr0

    April 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shame on CNN and the media

    Shame on CNN and the media for making this the most overblown misinformed case of this year. They are trying to paint a picture of unbiased journalism after being caught with their pants down. Shame on you. Your actions are irresponsible and immature. I would hope you feel guilty, but by the way everything was handled your guilt died long ago.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kramer

    They have to find 12 people in florida for a jury do you know how hard it will be to find any blacks with no records who can serve on the jury there is a mistrial right there.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. moffet

    Sweet parents??And wasn't there sweet boy on a ten day suspension for possession marijuana? Oh, it was empty because he smoked it. He also had a burglary tool and stolen items including a woman's wedding ring?? Oh, that's right, it wasn't his, someone gave it to him! LOL

    April 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. captain gay pants

    I am a highly respected lawyer in the orlando area, and i would like to just say that this thinks stinks to high heaven. This is smelly justice. Smelly justice!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. truth1063

    The fix is in in Sanford. They will find a way to railroad this guy not matter what. They are afraid of a riots and looting. Truth be damned. So far that have switched prosecutors and set aside a grand jury in an effort to manipulate the outcome. Scary

    April 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clydene

      Terrifying.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • John C

      You guys defending Zimmerman are nuts. No matter what you don't just follow someone and not expect some sort of retaliation. He wasn't even a rent a cop...

      April 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JPJ3016

      The truth is that Zimmerman initiated a confrontation that resulted in him shooting someone by his own admission, anytime someone is shot it should be up to a jury to decide guilt or innocense, not the local police.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1st-Sgt TopKick

      OK, now. ALL that was REQUIRED was an arrest so that thew case and evidence could be gathered and presented to the public (LISTEN to what Treyvon Martin's parents REQUESTED – they have NOT talked about any CONVICTION only that the LAW operate as it should when ANYBODY is killed at the hands of another.) PERIOD.

      I have NO doubt that Zimmerman will be found NOT GUILTY of 2nd degree Murder. I think the prosecutor faces a vertical climb to convince any jury "beyond a REASONABLE doubt" since CAREFUL and FULL forensics were foregone by the stupid Sanford PD and local DA on the night in question. All EVIDENCE is LONG GONE and the "witnesses" who claim they heard something are 50-50 on cross-examination.

      BUT, Zimmerman WILL be found GUILTY of SOMETHING !! (Negligent homicide, discharging a weapon with injury, etc.) Those fools who think the case is "fixed" underrate the power of the media to do it's own investigation and the power of the Internet allowing the spread of information. This case will be watched by more people than O.J. and Casey Anthony COMBINED. There will be NO ROOM for error. And (just like the Casey Anthony matter which turned out differently than we all expected), 12 of our fellow citizens will make the call and the Judge will abide by their findings. We (the public) can "shoot-the-boom-boom" all day long and it won't change any of these facts. Zimmerman will do minimum time – 1st offense – and (possibly) be released on bail pending his appeal. Anybody who's "played in court" knows this is the probable outcome of this case. All of the rest of the public wishin' and hopin' one way or another has just been OFFCIALLY "silenced".

      April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jon

    Was travon armed? I don't think so. Why was he being followed by Zimmerman in the first time? This is very slippery slope username "disgusted" because it basically gives people the right to kill if they "feel threatened". Well the bigger question is what happens when everyone starts to feel threatened all the time? That is why we leave the policing to the police in most cases.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • givemeabrek

      Good point

      April 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disgusted

      Jon, big difference between 'feeling threatened' and being assaulted. We don't yet (and may never) know exactly what happened but if Martin was assaulting Zimmerman then he did have right to protect himself.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      You don't kown what he was doing. Your're just another person fighting this case because of race. You don't have the balls to fix the truth about what takes place with what thugs do everyday and it's not about color. You only have the brain to speak out when you think it's outside of your race. I'm so sick of this race card... So sick of most of the people that live off off what they hear and not the truth... Al is nothing and never be anything. He makes his living off of people who can't think on their own. This is just a casw where someone wanted to keep his home safe and not live in a thug area in which so many do.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tiimy

    IT is a shame that the BLACKS get everything they want. Where is the justice for the white people

    April 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dumb..

      II'm white... and that statement was really dumb and shows your ignorance.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • givemeabrek

      ask Casey Anthony she has that answer

      April 11, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walter Davenport

      What?!?!
      In a veritable sea of absurd commentary you, sir, take the prize! MOST IDIOTIC COMMENT

      April 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JacktheRipper

      Please, theres a dead teenager and an adult cop wannabe with a gun who did the shooting.. He needs to stand trial.. Or let me punch myself in the nose and shot you bigot racist and then say "self defence" Get that.... its the police job to do what Zimmerman wanted to do

      April 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patriot Idiot

      Yean, Tiimy, man, it sucks how they get all the breaks. They practically run and own every Fortune 500 corporation, Damn near every senator and congressman is black, They have the highest income and wealth and every thing..damn! It just ain't fair that the coin doesn't flip the white man's way every once in a while, ya know?

      April 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. White America

    ameriKKKa

    April 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ed gold

    what a joke. the truth will come out, this thug got what he deserved,taken off the planet

    April 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Blanco

      And hopefully the same will happen to you hopefully today!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JacktheRipper

      He was a kid studying how to fly planes u idiot bigot racist..

      April 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. evil taxpayer

    This just gives obamas army of angry goverment dependants a reason to riot and try to get more "free stuff" from obamas stash.
    according to the black panthers, eric holder and too many liberals, only white males are racist.
    When will the KK be allowed to put a bounty on a black mans head? Will eric holder be ok with that?

    April 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • givemeabrek

      and pedofiles dont forget that

      April 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ceci

    Save money just lynch him....his already been tried n oppressed..no money.. no RICH attorneys...nobody to want to hear him out ..his DEAD. We already heard one side with the circus going in town. He won't make it in prison oppression is GREATER there! And of course we know what happens in Florida...like Casey Anthony all over again.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who was her....

      her attorney? maybe he can help lol

      April 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom118

    I have no way of knowing who's guilty and who's innocent. What I do know is that there is no place in our justice system for "trial by media."

    April 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. vj

    Good day for Trayvon Martin. He is waiting in heaven for this to happen. Finally did. Justice will be served. Good news for Trayvon's family. We should unite, not divided. Happy days ahead!!

    Obama 2012!! It is 100 % sure

    April 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. larry

    who really cares

    April 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
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