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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Will CNN now start showing actual pictures of the 17 year old Martin or are those to predudicial to the prosecution.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lori

      They are using updated pictures!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      You are not going to see any current pics of Martin that show how big he really was.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. anger

    run zimmy run!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nanaimo

    Nice how all the blacks want him to go down.......... nice people

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pro_Equality

      SURE IS.... AND ALL THE WHITES WANT HIM TO ROAM AROUND... NEXT

      April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary Goodwin

      I'm a 61 yr.old WHITE guy and i hope Zimmerman pays dearly for murdering this kid.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davenger

      nice how all the white people want no accountability. Nice people! History has recorded how nice you've been.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArtInChicago

      stfu very much.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      All the blacks? The people I see protesting are white, black, Asian, Latino, young, old.. So why are you singling out blacks? Typical.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Let live

      I am hispanic and would like to see George fry....Sooner the better..

      April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      It's not about wanting him to "go down" it's about justice. If someone killed your child or a family member you would want justice for your loved one right? or would you be OK with their killer roaming the streets free? Exactly, think before you type nonsense.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • shutyaface

      Nice how all the gun-loving Conservatives don't care about an unarmed teenager getting murdered by a whacko.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • colorblind

      WHY ARE ALL OF YOU THATS AGAINST TRAYVON MISSING THE POINT?! HE WENT TO THE STORE!!! HE GOT KILLED FOR GOING TO THE STOOOOORE!!!!!!! BOTTOM LINE IS YOU ARE RACIST IF YOU FELT THIS WAS JUSTICE BEING SERVED. WE DON'T LIVE IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS DAYS. WE HAVE FOUGHT TOO HARD. WE WILL NOT GO BACKWARDS. IM SURE ALOT OF PEOPLE IN YOUR FAMILY HAVE MIXED KIDS AS WELL. WE ARE A MELTING POT PEOPLE!!!! YOU DONT LIKE LIVING AMONG BEAUTIFUL DIFFERENT RACES THEN LEEEEEAVE!!!! THE MAN WHO KILLED HIM WAS HISPANIC BUT HAS TURNED INTO A BLACK AND WHITE THING ONCE AGAIN BECAUSE THE MAJORITY AGAINST ZIMMERMAN GOING TO JAIL IS WHITE. JUDGEMENT DAY. THATS ALL I CAN SAY. JESUS WAS RACIALLY PROFILED TOO.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Desperate GOP

    It's about time this vigilante is charged with murder!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    Zimmerman did not commit a crime. He committed a public service.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davenger

      I would love to perform a public service on your kids, one day I hope.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I certainly would not want this type of public service performed on your son or daughter by Zimmerman and he is allowed to not face the court.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Poolchick

    Uhhh cnn, your headline says zimmerman to be charge but the first paragraph states no charges have been filed. So what exactly is the breaking news here? Is it that you don't know what the facts really are cause that really isn't breaking news since it happens often.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blahblah

    why do black people always throw the race card

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Why do white try to fool the rest of the world as if they're so innocent? As if they are the victims, look what we have done for you!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      An ignorant question deserves an ignorant answer: Because white people always deny the race factor.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Amen!

    God is good.....

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Manjari

    Oh my god, what is WRONG with you people?????? Someone's child was MURDERED, and you're upset that the murderer is finally being charged? We don't even know what he's being charged with yet. Are you really sad to supposedly lose the "right" to chase down innocent people and shoot them dead? I can't believe how strong racism still is in this country. You have completely lost all ability to be rational. It's disgusting. I'd love to see how you would feel if it was your innocent son that was murdered and the killer was not even arrested at the time.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Wasn't murder – it was self defense when the punk attacked him. Some people only believe what they want to believe I guess.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      Thank you some people disgust me. A child is dead and a man is wrong. If he was black and the child was white. The whites would be up in arms doing the same-thing

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Uhm... I wouldn't call it murder until the jury calls it murder. And by the way... this was a public service... something like throwing out the trash. This black punk gangsta wannabe was a reject from public school (how hard is it to stay in school?)

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

    People are asking for recent pics of him.........REALLY does that matter....It was a life lost, rathr black, white, green it was a life!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • mel_in_atx

      It does matter when they are trying to paint him as some innocent little kid when he in has a history of violence and drug possession/use (supposedly). So they put out the 12 yr old picture to make everyone jump up in hatred. His facebook and twitter painted a whole different picture up until it was scrubbed and cleaned up.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • mel_in_atx

      It does matter when they are trying to paint him as some innocent little kid when he has a history of violence and drug possession/use (supposedly). So they put out the 12 yr old picture to make everyone jump up in hatred. His facebook and twitter painted a whole different picture up until it was scrubbed and cleaned up.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Let's see, can ya list any families who can say that this black gansta wannabe did anything to help make their neighborhood safer? Maybe if he did things other than cause trouble (how bad do you have to be to get kicked out of school in Miami-Dade? - pretty bad!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mylky

      Kind of like the pic of happy-go-lucky Zimmerman right?
      When are they going to put back the pic of the paranoid, racial-profiling, murderer Zimmerman?
      Idiot.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BenLA

    Ok. Of course they will do this... they don't want riots. Unless there is new hard evidence other than what everyone has seen throught the media, the worst case scenario for him is he could get a manslaughter charge. Worst case. Racial profiling or not, the video clearly showed wounds on the back of his head which would support the self-defense claim. Other than that there is a lot of "I heard" and not "I saw". The few witnesses that did see anything say Zimmerman was on his back with Martin on top. Clealry the prosecution, the police, and the government are trying to manage this situation so to prevent national rioting.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • karl

      actually there were two that said Zimmy was on top....just so ya know

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • BenLA

      Ok Karl. So there are some that say Martin was on top (which I have never read but giving you benefit of the doubt). Now you have conflcting witness testimonies. Great now you have to toss those out and rely soley on hard evidence. Manslaughter.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Janette

    WOW SOME OF YOU ON HERE ARE STARK RAVING MAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. another1

    This is a bit late, but it is a good thing. Racists need to know that their hate doesn't go unnoticed, and unpunished. Whether or not Trayvon's murder was racially motivated, the racists have been coming out of the woodwork to support him as if the shooting were racially motivated. Too many words of negativity calling Trayvon a "thug" which is unsupported by anything but racist commentary. Zimmerman on the other had has a known record of altercations with police, Trayvon did not, so the 'thug' accusations are very weak, and very racist.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janette

      VERY WELL STATED!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Hey dode! Maybe it might be said that you stated your point well, but.... well it was poorly researched. He WAS a thug wannabe! He got kicked out of a school in SOUTH FLORIDA. Do you know or have ANY CLUE how bad and terrible you have to be to get KICKED OUT OF A SCHOOL IN SOUTH FLORIDA?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Byron Anderson

    I would say what I would've done if Trayvon was my son but my sons have been carrying guns since they were 13. Never know when little Hunter will decide to shoot up the whole school because he's not popular and someone hurt his feelings. My motto to them is "it's better to be tried by (12) than to be carried by (6). The state troopers of Virginia taught me that one.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Someone may have a bigger gun or quicker hands, good luck to your sons.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Doc Deb

    Should have happened weeks ago. They'll never convict in that state.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165