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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. 1960mom

    I just threw up in my mouth, second degree murder? And that cow of a prosecutor says she's not over-reaching?I'm so sad to be an American today. I have no idea who our justice system is there for, but it certainly is not for an African American or a White/Hispanic.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. moffet

    When is the Fort Hood Shooter going to trial?? Faster than Zimmerman is tried and already convicted!!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. George Zimmerman

    I caused TM to envoke his flight or fight response when I followed him. He thought his life was in danger, he was right. Since I had a gun, in no way I thought my life was in danger. If I had to (I thought) I would use my gun and I did. I mistakenly killed the guest of a resident of the community I sought to protect.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1960mom

      To use your term "mistakenly". That would not be second degree murder in any state, thank God!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ken

    I guess the state government is trying to convey the message that we shouldn't defend ourselves if we are attacked and if we do we will simply be arrested (like England). Zimmerman had several witnesses that collaborated his story. Zimmerman was not the aggressor. I can certainly see our treasonous federal government use this to attack 2nd amendment rights and stand your ground laws. After all, our government, which is truly not our government anymore, is doing everything it can to destroy our liberties and it's only a matter of time before they come after our guns. Divide and conquer works like a charm. Divert attention from the totalitarian laws that are being passed everyday by our government, both state and especially federal. And it's not just the Democrats doing this. It's both parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, being controlled by the same people that are destroying this country. Wake up America!

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

    Hang on people. Why is the case being tried in the eyes of public opinion. None of you know the facts of the case. None of you know what really went on. How narrow minded are you all to place judgment on something you know nothing about. All you know is that a black young 17 year old kid was shot and killed. So automatically its a race killing. Why the race card? Why not stick to the facts at at least find out what they really are. Why trust what the media feeds you. I know Americans are smarter then this. May cooler heads prevail.

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

    OMG! Has anyone seen Zimmerman's new attorney. He looks like a drunk, I hope he has his ducks in a row. He sounds decent but goodness I'm trying not to base it on appearance.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MMM

      You are profiling him. Racist! LOL

      April 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Yes. I profile idiots.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. the_dude

    This is all a waste of time just to prevent blacks from rioting and looting. Zimmerman will be acquitted no doubt. The fact that it took this long and all the racebaiting media coverage it is impossible for him to get a fair trial now. He will walk they are just buying a few months hoping that the blacks calm down and forget so they dont riot and loot tv's and alcohol because they are sad about "Skittles" Martin.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dupri

      You sound like an uneducated little kid.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raiders4Life

      Your so ignorant and I hope they (looters) come after you first!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • sugar

      Yes, well, let's face it. Florida likes acquitting people of murder, even little white girls who kill their baby so the party can continue.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stand My Ground

    Lets see ... a man comes up to me and ask "whats me problem" and then breaks my nose and I kill him with my gun I would say that sounds about right !!!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • FactChecker

      Let's see. One man was minding his own business walking to a friend's house. Another man didn't like that, grabbed his gun, followed him, and shot him. Sounds like murder to me. I don't care who was a racist, who threw the first punch or who was winning the fist fight.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • FactChecker

      Let's see. One man was minding his own business walking to a friend's house. Another man didn't like that, grabbed his gun, followed him, and shot him. Sounds like murder to me. I don't care who was a racist, who threw the first punch or who was winning the fist fight.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kingofthenet

    Nice, 2nd degree...

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

    It's a life sentence without opportunity for bond. But I think there will be a trial.

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

    Corey thanked the Martin's attorneys? Oh yeah, Zimmerman is going to be scapegoated. Corey needs to remember she is answerable to the people of Florida. Railroading a man simply to look good will get her booted.

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

    This man will never get a fair trial.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Neither will Trayvon unfortunately. He didn't live to tell his side.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      If protocol had been followed in the first place, none of this would've happened. The Sanford police botched the case as was their habit. Now they are in the national spotlight. We can't have slack law enforcement!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. White America

    We have to stand united against black people we must say no to these criminals thugs and drug addicts. Its time to say no more its time to organize and take a stand. United we stand we can fight them into submission we just have to work together to show them there place.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Minority Rules

      Yeah that's right... put blackie in their place... I WISH YOU WOULD TRY

      April 11, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Right...everyone come together against black people because there are no toothless white drug attacks on meth and white drug dealers, dealing out of their trailers and no PWT on stamps and all white people have their sh$t together and we are all so wealthy, sane and educated. Come White folks lets stand against another group of people in the 21st century. How stupid does that sound? Just as stupid as your comment.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Vincent

      We wont try we will DO! White and proud of it!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • I am White with no prejudices

      You have got to be kidding!! You sound like you are still living in Antebellum South. You must remember that the "white man" brought the slaves over for economic reasons in America's early history. They helped build this nation as did many other ethnic groups, and deserve the same rights, respect, etc. afforded to all Americans. "White America," you are a JOKE!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • The REAL white America

      LOL OMG your'e so totally right – we need to stand up against thieves, addicts, and people who are in general – bad. Much like yourself. There are just as many, if not more, white drug-addicted thieving kids. Go move to Nazi Germany if you care so much about your "white power" – YOU are currently residing in The Melting Pot of the world. The place where anyone can come and make their dreams come true. Italians and Irish need not apply, Jim Crow, womens suffrage – has all made way for a new world. We know now that genetically, we are all the same. That it really is only skin deep. And all Gods children will learn to love harder then you can ever teach them to hate. I fart in your general direction.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • IKnowImRight

      And apparently YOUR place is in front of a computer screen, the only place you can get away with talking the way you do, coward!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Shelle

    Obama should really congratulate himself for that cheap speech he gave saying, "Trayvon would look like my son." What does that have to do with anything? It shouldn't matter whose son Trayvon would look like. A lawyer himself and he thinks that it was ok to personally, publicly convict the man without a trial. His comments have done nothing but evoke anger and further racial tension. How careless and irresponsible of him, to say the least. I respect and support much of what Obama has done so far, but I lost a chunk of that respect after that speech he made. Zimmerman may very well be guilty, but we are not a society that convicts our accused in the media or in social conversation and that is exactly what Obama reduced our judicial system to.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • DogHaus

      You got it wrong Shelle. Obama has not convicted anyone. Obama like many of us just wants someone that admitted to killing to be arrested like anyone else. That is justice in our country.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Hey..let's blame Obama for the tornado...better yet, let us blame him for ummmmm all of the stupid comments on the these blogs..LOL Why do people try to blame Obama for everything? I guess someone has to be the fall guy.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Racist

      Can you imagine if a white leader came forward describing a white person killed by a black as looking like his son? First of all, what relevance is this? Why is President speaking out on a local issue that should have been settled there and been a local story only. Why is this a national story? Is a black man killing a white man a national story? If so, when? Why does Al Sharpton have to show up at all these things? He has had egg on his face many times being wring, since hihs verdict is always based on race.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Vincent

      So let me translate for Obama – Travon would be just like the son I raised – getting suspended, smoking pot, creating a twitter account with a self denegrating name and flipping off the camera. Yep, that's Obama's son!

      WHITE AND PROUD OF IT!

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

      That is absolutely not how the justice system in our country does or should work. We operate under an "innocent until proven guilty" policy. President Obama's speech assumed culpability before there was a trial, before there was even an arrest! No matter what the evidence may be, there is no place for that type of public assumption by the most powerful man in the world. There is no justice in a trial being "rigged" by a public condemnation of the accused. And as a little frosting on the cake, he only further enraged the race war by throwing in the bit about how Trayvon would look like his son because he is BLACK. And Trayvon was BLACK. And Zimmerman was a WHITE hispanic (much much smaller font size). So what? A kid lost his life and it matters because he was a human being, not because he supposedly looks like the theoretical child of somebody important.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bluetail75

    That is bull!!!!!!! he defended himself but since the black racist machine got media attention they will put an innocent man in jail. He cannot get a fair trial. The police reports all showed he was attacked by traycon.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thank God

      I wonder how many innocent black man have been railroaded by the white racist machine?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
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