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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Ole George thought his judge daddy could get him off scott free again (like all the other times he abused and hurt other people). Not gonna work this time George. Daddy can't buy you out of this one. Paranoid people should NOT be carrying guns.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    Good luck with that 2nd Deg. Murder charge. Shows that either (1) the prosecutor is ignorant of the legal requirements for 2nd Deg. Murder, or (2) the charge is 100% politically motivated.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • WestVA

      The more I think about it the more I see how bright the charge was. She knows she has to charge him with something to keep the Martin family happy all the while knowing there was no way she'd get a conviction for 2nd degree murder. All she has to do is say she gave it her best and the jury chose not to convict. Brillant if you ask me.......

      April 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 1 less menace

    enough with the little baby faced pictures of this thug. he got what he deserved. if it was reversed the blacks would now be protesting the arrest. shame on you florida

    April 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      Even if he was a thug he wasn't doing anything and did not get what he deserved! What if someone decides you are a thug, is it ok to shoot you too?

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

      THUGHS CARRY GUNS AND KNIVES... IF THAT WAS THE CASE ZIMMERMAN WOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT STAB OR KICKED SO HARD TILL HE DIED!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Walter Davenport

    The sheet number and breadth of racist sentiment on here sadly reveals the sick, slimy underbelly hiding beneath the thin veneer of civility in this country!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ezflyer

    Sad that this was the outcome with regards to what has happened where under pressure from all points, he has been charged. The majority of the public due to the media has already found him guilty yet once the trial is complete, we will see the truth. Funny how the black community stands behind something like this, crying no justice, no peace when more than half do not even have a proper direction, they just follow like blind sheep. Where are these same people when there is violence amongst themselves? Where is the so called reverend Al....? Guess that if there is no money involved, he will not be a part of it. Sad that the kid had to die...sadder that it was the way that it happened..yet, was he innocent ? We will see.....as another poster stated, looks like this is one sided when it comes to color....where blacks get what they want or they will create violence to compensate for what they call justice....

    April 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Real talk

    Someone just got shot while I was typing this. Who knows what may come of it. Why fuss over this one when the nightly news bring at lease 3 a night. He is just another youth that got shoot in the streets. White or black, what would you do if he was your son, brother, dad or a friend? I on the the other hand don't have a child but has a brother that has been wrong fully charge by the STATE OF FLORIDA and serving 38yr for something he did not do..... mmmmmmm.. As Bob Marley say,TIME WILL TELL.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • amber

      Bob Marley huh see you shouldn't post stuff while you are high...

      April 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • bargrevience

      Divide and Conquer thats what its all about you sheep people, sheeple

      April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dupri

      Well what are you doing about it... a closed mouth don't get fed. This family did their leg work to make it important.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ilex

    And is it really necessary for the NAACP to make a statement? I thought it was inflammatory if anything. It said Martin was profiled as if it was a fact - the trial hasn't even started. I'm black, btw, and no I'm not getting caught up in the racial outrage or basing my opinions on emotion or how much Martin looked like people in my family. I have my own mind. I think it was self-defense based on the objective facts we've seen so far, but I'll change my mind if the new facts prove it wasn't.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troll45

      Thank you for an open mind. We need more of that in America.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • reality

      For you racist thugs killing of unarmed kid is no inflammatory but a talking black person is inflammatory.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ilex

      A talking black person is inflammatory? Yeah, that's what I said. So I think my own self is inflammatory for saying I'll base my opinion on the facts, not emotion. OK.

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

    They so called it. The only news site that guessed Zimmerman was already in custody.

    http://www.theunrealgeorgezimmerman.com/

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bet

    finanlly, god is good !!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • northFace

      And when he's acquitted, will you then denounce God?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. udub

    Zimmerman only got out the car because he was armed. Who do you think feared for their life?

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jim McDonald

    Florida is afraid there will be riots if Zimmerman does not go to jail. You cannot let the mob dictate justice. Call up the National Guard and deal with the miscreants

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LynnP

    Do Al Sharpton and the NAACP talking heads acknowledge that MOST (almost 90%) of blacks are murdered/shot by blacks? That is a statistic and a fact that they will never discuss or come openly about during their tirades and pontification.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. captain gay pants

    smelly justice!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ann

    This will be the new Trial of the Century. I just hope it doesn't go like OJ's. That was just shameful. And I don't mean because he got off–that's how that had to go, given the botched job everyone did–I mean the circus.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Oh yeah! Did you see all the white people looting after OJ verdict? They respect the law.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Judy75201

    This is the most wonderful news! I had lost faith, and am so glad to be proven wrong.

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

      Great Judy, now when someone comes after you or yours just because you have to walk from your car to your front door, maybe your FAITH will come to your aid! Congratulations!

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