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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Trayvon was standing his ground against someone stalking him in a vehicle. If I'm walking along peacefully minding my own business and someone is shadowing me in a car, then I turn down a different street and the car still follows me, then the person inside the car exits the vehicle and comes after me, you better believe someone is going to get cracked in the nose. Trayvon was acting completely within the scope of the "Stand Your Ground" law. George Zimmerman wanted to be a tough guy, a cop wannabe. When a 160lb BOY started to get the better of him in fair hand to hand combat, Zimmerman, being a simpering, sniveling coward, pulled a gun and shot the kid. Trayvon was the one standing his ground. Trayvon was the real man. George Zimmerman is a coward for using a gun in a fair fight against someone who weighed 20lbs less than him. PROSECUTE THIS MAN

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

    Once Jackson and Sharpton got involved there was no doubt that he would be charged. Things are done so unfair in this country. It's time for blacks to stop using that as their crutch everytime a young black man commits a crime or is shot it is always because he was black. Look at the facts and the evidence and not the color of the skin people.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bryan

    They wanted a race war....looks like they will get one.

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

      That is all that Jackson and Sharpton want. Without race issues they may actually have to get a real job. It's in their best interest to keep stirring the race pot every chance they get.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PEACE BE STILL

    @Imahoodie...you are stupid and ignorant...if you had listened to Al Sharpton...he specifically said that this is no win – win...no one is celebrating...this is not a victory....and that justice still must be served....Just the fact of being charged is what needed to happen so that the truth could prevail...that's why we have a justice system...for crimes to be tried in courts and not in the media or streets....so stop hating and get a life...Trayvon life is of VALUE and deserves to be represented in the highest of courts....period
    IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO JAIL...DON'T COMMITT THE CRIME......

    April 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Errol Neal

    Is it just me, or is 2nd degree murder a bit too high a charge? I thought it was going to be something like manslaughter. I hope that the prosecution knows what it's doing. Putting charges on Zimmerman that can't stick would be worse than not arresting Zimmerman at all..

    April 11, 2012 at 7:13 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 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who Cares?

      Apologies – to prior comment – CNN put my reply on the wrong remark.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dezz

    Kill him and everybody who like him...

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

      not very classy, Dezz. Of your meds?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Lyons

      Where are you Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton wheb it comes to the white guy who was beaten robbed and stripped by a group of black youths who had the audacity to record the incident on video? Give me a break the prosecutor in this Martin case wont discuss what led her to her decision to bring forth charges. To me it is obvious that she is just caving to pressure from all of these protest. The local police dept did not arrest or charge Zimmerman CASE CLOSED! Lets see how emboldened these people now become. Great Job Jesse Al and all of the sympathizers on undermining local government and creating further racial tension. No one was there this man has been tried and convicted already in the court of public opinion.

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

    The lesser of two evils has been applied in this case: charging the Latino as to appease the black community. This maneuver is likely to back-fire as the case does not look solid. Should the 'facts' be clear enough, Zimmerman would have been charged with First-Degree murder. The more unwarranted power any ethnic community is granted, the larger the risk of creating conditions prone to injustice. Peace is getting nowhere near to be well served and this matter will ever broaden the already widening race gap.

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

      You have it wrong....Black people are not appeased..... black people are sad, a mother and father lost a son.... and even hanging George Zimmerman won't bring him back. That it could be someone else's child is a real possibility....If it wasn't Trayvon it could have been my son.... or someone's child who was doing nothing wrong. If you think it's ok to kill an unarmed teen ...... think about the fact....That George Zimmerman is an adult, who has the capacity to make a decision to leave well enough alone, he didnt..... and you can't pursue, harass, accost, and attack someone then call it self defense.... the whole issue is sad, but the right thing was done

      April 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      Oh really? The case doesn't look solid? You have access to information the prosecutor doesn't? You have more experience in prosecuting homicide cases than she does? The Murder 2 charge is revealing, and it suggests that there's more evidence undermining Zimmerman's story than we know.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      I think the lesser charge is due to the fact that proving 1st degree murder would be more difficult. However, I differ in my opinion about the arrest. I think it was about arresting someone who killed an unarmed teenager because they want the story told in a court of law. There are huge inconsistencies but in favor of a murder charge. If the arrest was done to please anyone, it wasn't the black community; it was an angry nation.

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

    What about the white tourist who was beaten, robbed, and stipped naked in Baltimore? What no coverage of that case? Hmmmm............

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

      has to be the other way around to get media coverage

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

      What about it? He is not dead. It was an unfortunate incident but has not to do with Trayvon and psycho Zimmercop.

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

      It doesn't fit the liberal medias bias

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

      Maybe that's because the Baltimore police are actually trying to arrest those guys, not giving them a get out of jail free card. Of course it was horrible and barbaric. But guess what, no one's actually defending those thugs–everyone wants to see them arrested. Unlike you all and Zimmerman.

      Oh, and by the way, no one died.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Motley Sage

      It got more coverage than Jena 6 did. :-\ ...and a Black man brought it up, too. (LZ Granderson...CNN's own). Check out his Opinion page to see what he said about it. You seem like you'd appreciate his stance on the matter.

      And just to address that nonsense in Baltimore.....what happened to that guy was embarrassing. I posted that video on my Facebook page to urge my fellow African American brothers and sisters to share/repost it as an equally outrageous issue within our community. I'm disgusted every time I see footage of people taking violent advantage of others simply because the opportunity arose. That is what happened in that video, and I hope every one of those involved are found, prosecuted, and brought to justice.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      This to has been in the news to and I just watched the video after the decision to charge Zimmerman, and I could not hear all the audio, but they did mention the word justice several times and I believe the people who beat the guy in Baltimore will get their day in court to.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cliff plasters

    To all who say there are no facts here's a few-Zimmerman was told "we don't need you to follow him". He was told to meet the police at a certain place yet he got out of his car an you can hear him running after Mr. Martin. He was not supposed to cary a gun while on neighborhood watch. He seemed to have a chip on his shoulder by saying "they always get away with it". Mr. Martin was talking to a friend on the phone during the situation and the police never talked to her. Mr. Martin was listed as a "Jon Doe" for three days even though he had a cell phone which would lead any boy scout detective to verify his identification in a short time. Now stop all the racist BS on both sides and let a jury decide guilt or inocence.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Motley Sage

    Wow....

    Second Degree Murder??? A possibility for a LIFE sentence???
    Man! I thought he would have gotten "man slaughter" at worst.... but 2nd Degree Murder?

    Because I obviously have no full knowledge of the evidence that she had access to, I can't object to such a serious charge. I wanted him to be arrested and charged... but I still gave Zimmerman the benefit of doubt that he didn't MURDER the kid...but perhaps somehow mishandled his gun and shot Martin by mistake during the struggle. This is going to be major. I actually hope he isn't truly guilty of MURDER...but rather 'man slaughter'.
    Don't get me wrong, though... The Martin Family deserves justice. I'm just surprised at how serious the charges were.

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

      Suggests that there's something in the physical evidence that undercuts Zimmerman's self-defense story.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pamela

    To say that this is "reverse racism" is absurd. When someone says "reverse racism", that entails racism existed in the first place and as long as you benefited from that racism, then it is ok. Racism is Racism no matter the direction.

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

    It too soo long to bring charges because they had to find sonoene dumb enough to agree with the idiot in the whitehouse

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

      Why do people insist on bringing the President into the fray.... The President is a black man, and his son would look like Trayvon, to ask him to deny that fact is ignorant, and unbelievable. A man killed an unarmed kid.... not an adult but a kid, and where in America is it against the law for you to walk the street in any community in "AMERICA".....I am Trayvon Martin, and if you have a white, latino, or black child who lives in that community they are too..........

      April 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • ted

      Why do people insist on bringing the President into the fray.... The President is a black man, and his son would look like Trayvon, to ask him to deny that fact is ignorant, and unbelievable. A man killed an unarmed kid.... not an adult but a kid, and where in America is it against the law for you to walk the street in any community in "AMERICA".....I am Trayvon Martin, and if you have a white, latino, or black child who lives in that community they are too......... it takes a whole community to keep it safe, not a self appointed watchman

      April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      Why do people insist on bringing the President into the fray.... The President is a black man,
      --

      Ted – You just answered your own question. There are a lot of people here who still haven't gotten over that fact.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Raciest Sharpton

    I don't know what happened here. and the fact remains that no one does aside from the two individuals involved. However what i do know is that everyday, people kill people. Blacks kill whites 3 to 1 over the other way around. Yet there is no outrage over this? The president doesn't call the white girls family because the black man shot her while she was unarmed... What i will say is the most raciest people in America, Hell probably the world are Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton. Yet its attempted to be hidden behind "Rev". The true Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King is rolling over in his grave at the thought of these two raciest idiots representing the "Rev" name and African Americans in general...

    April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tedjohnson

    Is this an opinion..... White America has been, well...white america for centuries.......I find it to be improbable that some intelligent human being can write and spew such hatred toward people. The facts are that no matter who you are sir, you are a threat to white people more than you are to black people..... No matter how many times you rise up,....justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream..... speak and preach white supremacy..... the problem with that is ....The Only Supreme being is God

    April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tokuiten

    Between Santorum dropping out and this, the last two days have been absolutely wonderful.

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

      This is just a case of public outcry causing an undue rush to justice. The facts simply did not warrant the prosecution of Zimmerman, which is why he wasn't charged in the first place. Have we become such cowards that we allow lynching by public opinion? The media has caused this outrage, all in search of a juicy story.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      jimmyleetexas
      This is just a case of public outcry causing an undue rush to justice. The facts simply did not warrant the prosecution of Zimmerman, which is why he wasn't charged in the first place.
      ---
      A rush to justice? A month and half after an unarmed kid is shot is a rush? If the facts didn't warrant arrest, why did the lead detective request an arrest warrant on the night of the killing, only to be overruled by the local DA? Now, precisely what are the facts that don't warrant prosecution? Zimmerman's story which a.) makes no sense & b.) is contradicted by both witness testimony and analysis of the 911 tapes?

      Last I checked, George Zimmerman will still get his day in court. He'll have a lawyer, the chance to defend himself, and the right to make his case before a jury of his peers. That's a heck of a lot more than what he gave Trayvon Martin.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
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