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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    hope that a@# can fight but we know he can't cause a 17 yr whip that a!@. No gun in jail for you to stand your ground !!!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jon

    Wow what an ignorant comment Tilmy really that is sad that you believe that. I just don't get why so many commenting here are so afraid of everything. Must be a tormenting life?

    April 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Christopher

    It seems somewhat odd that the special prosecutor chose this path rather than taking this case before a grand jury. Perhaps, the evidence against Zimmerman was too thin to take the chance that a grand jury might determine that Zimmerman acted within the law. After all, the politically correct thing to do is bankrupt someone who must defend themselves against the government. Let's hope that Zimmerman is judged by a jury a fair as O J Simpson's. If you know what I mean.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • givemeabrek

      you mean a jury like Casey Anthony

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

      Maybe his WHITE daddy will preside. He has already tried to muddy the water on fox noise.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hartzog86

    just a momentary reprieve from the riots

    April 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kandy321

    Sucks to be a Mexican.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • larry

      life as black is great

      April 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • gotaclue

      Don't blame this guy on the Mexicans. His daddy is a white Klansman from Virginny, and he was raised that way. Don't let looks deceive you. If you want to blame Hispanics, blame Columbia, that's where his mammy is from.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. George

    I have no use for colored people. The are lazy dumb and take advatage of society. How the hell obama got elected is beyond me.

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

      The world has no use for you either. Same way Bush did.

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

      I have to agree to a certain degree... if they want to act like the rest of society, then I will be perfectly willing to treat them like the rest of society. Until then, this is ridiculous. Black people kill each other every day, more so than any other race or demographic. But the one time a mexican was involved (or god forbid a white person), the entire race goes crazy. Thanks USA :/

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

      Your a jack ass! and its people like you that should be shipped out to an Island by yourself.

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

      And those of us who are American have no use for your neanderthal way of thinking.
      BACK TO YOUR HOLE TROLL.
      You are embarrassing those of whomever should unfortunately share your bloodline.

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

    I've read some of the posts on here and I have to say I am completely disappointed in some people. I am a 22 year old white girl... and I am completely appalled at some of the racist remarks I have seen about this case. For the person who said, "the only innocent black kid is the one that dies at birth", shame on you. I was not aware that there was this much racism still in our country. Stop thinking about all black males as criminals. White people can be criminals too... look at how many people died in the Oklahoma City bombings from Timothy McVey, a white man. I have been praying for justice in this case since I have heard about it. While a lot of people think that it was a race issue, I look at it as simply a 17 year old kid losing his life. I think about if it was my brother, who is currently 18. I would have wanted the man who killed him in jail at all costs. Put yourself in this kid's shoes... if a grown man was following me at night, I would have punched him too. Should I be dead? Zimmerman is much bigger than Trayvon. As for the marijuana, what teenager hasnt experimented with weed? black or white, most teens at least try it. Doesn't make them criminals. So really I just beg all of you, stop with the racist comments and just focus on the justice. if you believe Zimmerman did act on self-defense, then I respect your opinion. But I do not respect anyone who says that Trayvon is automatically a criminal who should have died simply because of his race.

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

      They're called trolls. Don't worry about them.

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

      Thank you sweetheart. Glad there is hope.

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

      So if a neighborhood watch captain confronts you and follows you around a neighborhood you're new to, and wants to know who you are, you're going to punch them in the nose? I imagine you're going to get killed to. Also, most of the racial stuff posted on here is just people trolling. When you get riled up by them, you lose. Wisen up.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • kristy

      Your mother must be real proud of you......very smart and brilliant....I am so glad to know that you don't. All african americans are what is said...MAY GOD BLESS YOU...some peolpe learn ignorance at a early age.....

      April 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • TEFU

      Welll said Samantha:)!!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. captain gay pants

    i happen to be a notorious attorney in the orlando area. This case reeks of smelly justice. Smelly justice!!

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

      Thanks for reaffirming most folks' opinions of lawyers. Creep

      April 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TheWinker

    How pathetic... Im glad they are going for murder, there is nowhere near enough evidence to convict him on that in this case. That kid was a thug and everyone refusing to see it is ever dumber than al sharpton and jesse james. He didnt deserve to die, but he should not have been allowed to roam the streets, steal, and punch neighborhood watchmen either.

    This was never about race, but boy, I sure am glad that the black people used it to push their agenda.... again....

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

      Got it all figured out, haven't you? IDIOT

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

      you are just mad because zimmerman is white and he will get convicted! if zimmerman was black and treyvon was white you would say the oppoisite! you would say aww poor little boy scout who got shot and damn black guy who shot him! and one more thing if trayvon was white mr zimmerman would have called the polcie and wouldnt have shot the teenager and taken the law into his own hands.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hubert

    My only problem with this case is why, is this kinda of media circus not done when a black person kills another black person. I see the news filled with black on black killing in Detroit every night with none of this circus atmosphere. So much for fair and equal justice. Only when is a case like this do the national circus clowns come out to talk(Rev Al Shapton) I don't know what happen that night and neither does anyone else at this point. Let the trial play out and lets see how it comes out and stop all the grand standing stop..

    April 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • captain gay pants

      this case is frustrating. AHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I just farted. Ahhhhh!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tiimy

    blacks can do whatever they want. Sharpton is a racist and stupid

    April 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    Wonder how many people are going to volunteer for neighborhood watch in fear on the NAACP , al sharpen and Jesse Jackson.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. naji

    Im sorry George Zimmerman should be arrested and convicted on GP. If i just stopped any person I suspected, nterrogated and ened up killing them "attempting to help the community" I would still go to jail. Its called being a vigilanty. Its completely why its thats not allowed. Is he a cold blooded killer. Not sure of that but definitely a killer none the less. The argument that he is innocent is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Its the "I tried to help but I caused a bigger problem but its not my fault AKA the "Steve Urkel: did I do that" defense. Complete BS!!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BHPT

    Look at all the sick rightwingers lining up behind the guy who HAD THE GUN. You people are sickening.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KKK

    So what, he makes bail in a week and is acquitted in two years time. Ms. Corey has ended her aspirations of a political career as she was elected by the conservative right which she has now has alienated in her attempts to appease a very liberal block of the Country. They still need to find twelve people that agree with her theory and I just don't see how they are going to do this as the community seems so spit. I wonder if the Trayvon supporters will accept the verdict of their peers in 2 or 3 years hence.

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