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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Even after the trial, we may never know what really happened that night Zimmerman shot & killed Trayvon, but I do know one thing...NONE of it would have happened if Zimmerman STAYED IN HIS FRIGGIN" TRUCK!

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

      And none of this would have happened if Travon's parents wouldn't have divorced, if dinosaurs still roamed the earth, if we all had wings instead of feet. You're a racist!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WestVA

    I find it interesting the special prosecutor's want for "justice" leans quite a bit towards the Martin family. I was pretty sure "justice" should be for either party based on the evidence presented and judged by a jury of peers. I'm pretty sure she doesn't give a rats ass about George Zimmerman or his family; I certainly didn't hear her say anything about George Zimmerman's "sweet family".

    April 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lamasioux

    common everyone grab your pitchforks and torchs. Trial by media. Our country is doomed

    April 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kramer

    Each time a colored person dies Al Sharpton gets more foodstamp and assistance money

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

      @Kramer

      You are really really ugly. I have been looking at some of the vilest comments on this site and wonder if there isn't a concerted effort to post them. Are you part of a group?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. joan z

    They caved to radical demand! God help us all this Country no longer displays "liberty for all" we are doomed. Look over your shoulder people not a neighborhood watchmen or a concerned neighbor will help you. You're on your own, happy now?

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

      You don't even know the facts about the case. Your statement is ridiculous and hysterical. What you want is for the black guy to be guilty... why is that so important to you? For me, I don't know who is guilty. I think I'll let investigation take its course and wait to hear and see the evidence rather than get caught up in a mob mentality choosing "sides."

      April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Who Cares?

    So many cases involving Euro Americans have been overlooked by the media, I really and truly no longer care to hear about this case as if being African American is the only way for a United States civilian to receive protected justice today.

    I will not apologize for saying this.

    I've watched too many injustices concealed and protected by CNN especially over and above most other news sources and involving Anderson Cooper in particular.

    No one wants to believe these things unless an African American is involved.

    I'm tired of it.
    I'm tired of listening to Al Sharpton who is marginally educated.
    I'm fed up with Jesse Jackson causing my fellow Americans to believe that only African Americans receive unjust acts by the DOJ.

    None of my ancestors held slaves.
    But, I've paid the price for those that have.

    If my sons are to have a decent future in this nation, then it had better start making fair rulings for all, and not showing only preference in the media, in the courts, or on the streets by law enforcement only for African Americans.

    I have never seen or witnessed more injustices against African Americans than Euro-Americans or anyone else. I'm tired of these lies.

    This is not 1960.

    This is 2012.

    "Reverend" Sharpton had better quit dominating the press or some like myself will rise against him in the courts.

    I will not stand for another day of hearing that this young man was shot unlawfully when we do not know the truth yet, but the intent is to taint all that might be on a jury.

    That is equally as unjust as an errant judge.

    My sons deserve to see actual justice, impartiality, fairness under the law and they have not. And they are Euro-American.

    Quit the lies.
    They are sickening and I'm fed up with this being offered to the international community when others are harmed but not black and not a word is spoken about it.

    Quit lying to our children that feel guilt already if they are born white – because that is what the black community wants my grandchildren to feel.

    I want to see justice in this case, too and it had better reflect the truth, not a showing of display for the re-election of Barack Obama.

    Stop force-feeding my Euro American family a threat against the security of this nation that is showing to me under no uncertain terms that it prefers the black over my children in all things including employment.

    I will not stand for that and will fight back to preserve the ancestry I have in knowing my families settled all of New England and I will fight to preserve that history, and justice that protects and defends all in this nation, not only the African American.

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

      Well said. I'm white and will not apologize for it any more! I will support white candidates, I will buy from whites when I can and I will honor my white heritage. IT STOPS HERE with the apologizing.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      tired of the "lies", ok for some truth do your own personal investigation and interview 100 people of color from various states or 1 state and see what they have to see, i promise you you will hear about injustice after injustice after injustice
      all of our children need to know the truth and it is not one sided but we must be willing to understand or at least hear what it is like to walk in the other person's shoes

      April 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • lourde b

      shut your f mouth f....k racist lady juctice will be serve for trayvon i know you europeen people are you are

      April 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Well said. What's racist, is that this story has more coverage than anything else going on. Since this happened, there have been seven shootings in my neighborhood. No one seems to care about those.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • sasha

      You....if you don't care why are you on the site......are you zimmerman family.....

      April 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Vincent

      No "Peace", no more apologies. I am white and I have been mistreated over and over by minorities and been made to feel inadequate because of my race. NO MORE! I am proud to be white! I am proud of my heritage!

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

    @LynnP And what does that have to do with the Martin case?

    April 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Viral Story

    I saw this coming a mile away. He should have been charged in the beginning when the police told him on the 911 call to stop following the boy. He will get what he deserves in the end. he better be lucky he isnt in Texas because he would have gotten the needle.

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

      thank u gog im sure ur slate is clean

      April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who Cares?

      You, like everyone else makes decisions based on what the media feeds you instead of knowing the truth. You know nothing then. I do. I've seen what happens in these cases. I'm telling you to quit spreading lies. If you don't know – then say, "I do not know what happened". And shut up about it. These cases in the law affect all Americans. I am a law professional. I'm fed up with lay "experts" that know nothing about the law opining as if they were a justice and mucking up that which affects my family and yours.

      So – if you do not know what happened – quit acting like this is a witch hunt. Let the jury decide it and move on.

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

    I believe some people dont care about justice in these blogs,they're on the sites just airing there racist views about black people.

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

    Every time a colored person dies Al Sharpton gets more foodstamp and assistance money

    This man is as much a criminal as Trayvon and the rest of these black criminals in prison.

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

      u bet man he dont care bout his own

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

      who are you to judge people what do you know about trayvon Fk white go take care your self racist mfker leave us alone proudto be black

      April 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Let the rioting begin when this case is either dismissed by a judge or a jury finds him not guilty.

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

    Zimmerman was attacked and defended himself. Period. They are only arresting him to prevent a do-over of the LA riots. Blacks cannot be peaceful....it's impossible.

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

      cause they're animals

      April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      let them riot we have more guns

      April 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      please tell me these remarks are coming from a teenager, for if they are coming from an adult that's very very sad

      April 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Vincent

      You're right. I've absolutely had it with blacks tearing our justice system apart. The pendulum just started swinging the other way. Notice to anyone who wants to chip away at our great country – Your 15 minutes are UP! BUB-BYE!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michae1Hawk

    We live in a political world.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Noah

    I feel bad about the kid getting killed (almost an afterthought) by this circus but I'm curious if Al Sharpton the pubhound made any statements a while back when an armed Black man left his property w/ a gun to argue with an unarmed white man in a park right outside his house and shot the white man in front of his own daughter while they were there to play! I believe the court case is still being played out and the older Black man is claiming self defense (same law) although he left his property with the gun and stepped into the public park with it during an escalated shouting match. The whole deal was over the Black guy yelling at a young kid skateboarding and the White guy was telling him to shut up and go back in his house since there were no signs say "No skateboarding". The Black guy could've stayed on his property where he was safe and called the police but made a poor decision just like Zimmerman did.

    Should White people have a rally and create a big circus everytime one gets shot & killed by an armed Black person? It goes both ways! How ironic that there are mirror cases in the same state with the shooter hiding behind the same law! CNN brought this story up to my attention but it OBVIOUSLY never got NEAR they hype as the Martin case even though a little girl watched her dad die in front of her eyes!

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

      I also roll my eyes when I see that Zimmerman (hispanic) is being touted as "white" in several stories I've read/seen.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juror13

      hell yes! Everyone including Bill Clinton, Tim Tewbow and John Stewardt should be marching in defense of the white guy! Please post the address of the courthouse and I'll arrange it!!!

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

      Here's a CNN link to view it yourself:

      http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/21/father-shot-in-front-of-young-daughter/

      April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Roger

    There is no way a fair trail can be had in this matter! Jury? How is this going to be chosen? How in the world do you get second degree murder in this incident? No wittiness, mixed messages on 911, Hearsay statements? Sorry but this is for the consumption of those who want to over react no matter what the outcome is. Rodney King move over...here comes another round of burning and rioting!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mtech01

      Amen Roger. There was no way he wasn't going to be prosecuted.

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