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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Wow, they must have some pretty strong evidence that we have not heard yet. I guess we will have to wait until the preliminary hearing to find out what they have.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sarah

    Zimmerman is innocent. He acted in self-defense.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick from Minnesota

      Since when is shooting someone who was running away from him "self defense?"

      April 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. White America

    This country needs a very public very rough wake up call. Its time to reclaim our country its time to get rid of all these unwanted visitors.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Doctor

    As soon as this turned into a media circus, they had no choice.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Dude

    Sad, Sad, Sad day....... Zimmerman has been convicted by the liberal media, all they keep showing is pictures of the Martin kid when he was 12. Cute little pictures when he wasn't a thug. What about the racist black panthers offering a bounty or Spike N Lee posting the address of some eldery couple that he thought was Zimmermans.......... Who's the racist in this country? GLAD I OWN MANY MANY FIREAERMS but hey with all the black on black crime and killing maybe I want have to pop a cap in a n!!ga..........

    April 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. er

    if blacks didnt commit most of the crimes they wouldnt be followed dont commit crimes

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

      Dude I have one word for you R-A-C-I-S-T !!!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      No the one word for you is FOREST GUMP "IGNORANT"

      April 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • nofact

      know your facts, there are more crimes committed by whites then blacks.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa

      That is really a stupid statement, stupid and racist. That 17 year old boy had a whole life ahead of him. He belonged in that neighborhood. Zimmerman went out of his way to hunt down that boy and kill him. Those are facts.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • justice

      Walking home from the store, minding your own business. I guess killing Trayvon was justifiable homicide. Being Black doesn't justify being murdered for no reason at all. I pray one day that you will understand that being black doesn't make you a criminal, it makes you a target.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tiara Grim

    Everyone who wears a goodies isn't a thug

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

      What about the ones who were caught dealing drugs in school and suspended; and caught with buglers tools and women's jewelry in their backpack? Remind you of someone?

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

      Yes but most thugs wear hoodies. Don't go round lookin like a thug

      April 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • FlyontheWall

      So true.....BUT the reverse is also true....a high proportion of Thugs wear Hoodies!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      That's "hoodie", and the problem is that people assume that a person wearing a hoodie has something to hide.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Yeny

    About time! After they let go oh Casey Anthony, I didn't think Florida was gonna do anything, so glad I was wrong.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herman Cain

      Racist pig, one less thug

      April 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Solrac

    I reinstate my thoughts, this action is meant to appease the black community. Such is not a good thing as it fails to server justice, yet it brings peace of mind to politicians. That is the ROI of accusing Zimmerman after some media decided to call him "White" Hispanic. No one in the black community will accept a term such as "Half-black" or "A third part black"; thus, either you are black or you are not. Same thing with Zimmerman. The news would not have been as 'juicy' if he had been branded a Latino, as his appearance clearly indicates. It was easier to brand him a "White" Hispanic and then use the adjective to give flavor to an issue between minorities. Now the hatred of slavery has been brought back and the issue has grown disproportionately, to the satisfaction of media and the preoccupation of politicians.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norman

      wrong buddy-that fat latino is guilty of murder-and he will fry liek a hot tamale!

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

      @Norman – Can't get the Death Penalty on Second Degree Murder. And if your facts are wrong and you're ignorant of that, what else are you wrong and ignorant of?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Justice

    To you 'Truth' (and those who believe as you) May God have mercy on your sin sickened soul. Your words speak of a pain few people ever experience; someone whose being is being devoured by deadly poison; hatred. I am glad there is a 'living' God. He died to save you. It was He who said, 'And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.' I speak to your heart's longing to 'know; fully comprehend to embrace' genuine truth, and pray God reveal himself to you, if you choose 'life' I'll see you in heaven.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • phearis

      @ Yung Remmy – Try speaking English and not Ebonics. *wink*

      April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. White America

    We need to stand united and get rid of these roaches.Its time to reclaim this country and make it great again. You dont see these peple starting huge internet companies or giving something back they are useless they just live off society

    April 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yung Remmy

      I'm Yung black and rich self made black and proud eat a dick u racist whit trash

      April 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tiara Grim

      this isn't your country you didn't find north America ...you can't find something that was never lost ...the native lived here first ....and America wasn't founded by pure white people .....and no white person is purely white you all are mixed with something ....hate to say it but your not ......and black people dnt commit most of the crimes however the crimes that are committed by black people are highlighted more than your crimes ......plus we don't kill people and eat them ....most serial killers are white ....

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

      Clearly you're the biggest roach of all!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    Zimmerman could have given verbal commands while standing his ground!!!!!!!! But he cbosse to shoot that boy who was no threat to a loaded gun!!!!!!! So George Zimmerman was not being threatened with lethal force, this whole story it was life or death only applies to Zimmerman. He choose to shoot an unamred young man instead of yell

    STOP OR I'LL SHOOT YOU
    STOP IN THE NAME OF A POLICE IMPERSONATOR
    STOP BEATING THE CRAP OUT OF ME I HAVE A GUN
    STOP I'M JUST A LOSER THAT CRUISES THE STREET LOOKING FOR INNOCENT VICTIMS TO BULLY WHILE ROBBING MY NEIGHBORS BLIND CONVINCING THEM I PROVIDE SECURITY.

    Instead Zimmy decided to shoot that kid so it's time to pay the piper!!!!!!!

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

      very one sided argument. Life is never that simple. Innocent until proven guilty.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • phearis

      Ahhhh, to be completely clueless...... Read your second line. That gave Mr Zimmerman authorization under Florida Law to kill that drug dealing thieving punk. 😀 Have a nice day.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • phearis

      My Mistake, I meant third line. *wink*

      April 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PK

    If you believe in the system you are so proud to be a part of, then you should have no problem with these latest developments in the Trayvon Martin case. I for one am happy that the police, the media, white supremacists, gun lobbyists, Al Sharpton, Rush Limbaugh, O'Reilly or the black panther party for that matter, won't be judge, juror, or executioner. A jury of twelve will decide guilty or innocent based on the facts of the case.

    If you don't believe in this system, then no matter what side of this issue you'd like to think you're on, you will never be satisfied, and with that, you probably have more in common with the people you are arguing with than you think.

    If I kill someone, and I am happy to be alive because I kill someone in self defense, I don't think I'd have much of a problem airing the case in court. In fact, why not make court hearings a standard practice in self defense killings? Cops are cops. They should never be judge and jury too. The media is the media, They definitely shouldn't be judge and jury. The rest of us are just people with opinions who have not heard one thing about the evidence in this case that we could put our own lives on to say was true.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. andrea brooks

    This whole thing saddens me, but what Zimmerman did to Trayvon needs to be brought to light and each and very aspect of this case needs to be reviewed(I do not believe that Travyon would cause any problems,etc). zimmerman needs to not go out on bond and be criminally charged with 2nd degree murder, as he did shot Trayvon(wether he did it in self defense or not) and serve life in prison. Honesty is always the best policy and I have to say that I think that Zimmerman was possibly(??) mad and shot Trayvon for no reason at all. JUSTICE NEEDS TO be served and he needs to be charged with 2nd degree murder.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael

    Let's remember the facts. BOTH Zimmerman and Trayvon have been in trouble with the law. Zimmerman claims self defense that he was attacked and both a witness and his injuries MAY support his story. Should he have left this up to the police? Yes! It will now be up to a jury to decide.

    And to the ignorant people claiming it should be first degree, learn the definition of first degree. This case does not warrant it.

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

      Must be getting your facts from fox noise and rush dumbo. Trayvon had no police record, he got suspended from school because some fool found an empty baggie with what was suppose to be green residue. Hardly equal to attacking the police!

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

      Michael, where are you getting your information? Maybe you missed the part about the arrest record that a white hate group put out was really a guy from Georgia, Trayvon had NEVER been arrested

      April 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
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