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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Second Degree murder won't stick. Ahh race baiting at its finest.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john

    This sickens me to know that just because hundreds of black people march around and display the race card they can pressure others in this country to act in their favor. zimmerman was not given a fair chance and now his life is ruined. if a 200 pound punk black kid was attacking me I would have shot him as well

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

      agree 100%

      April 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Northernstar

    There is NO way that this prosecutor brought charges that she does not believe she can win. This case is too high profile for her to lose. She is a star and a rising star in the world of prosecutors. If she can win a high profile case like this her future in ensured. Anyone that thinks that she brought these charges to appease some group is crazy. She is smart, tough and a professional who wants to win.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Paul

    Go "Trayvon"! I want to smash your thug ugly racist nose all over your face!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nautiusm

    @ Michael Vick – I always knew you were not that smart. Now you just proved it once again.

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

    Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are the 2 biggest racists in the world. If TM was white they would want nothing to go with this case

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

      I pray the Holy Spirit visits you tonight as it is obvious you need a word from the Lord! Racism is bad for everyone!!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name

      Agree with White America...and i'm black!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      The lord see what all people do and THINK. But at least someone trying to protect a neighborhood instead of raping and robbing then murdering people isn't the same as what a large portion of black people do then praise themselves for it. There are a lot of good people on both sides. But there is also a larger portion of bad people for a lesser population of people on one side.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • copanut

      Perhaps so, but this case is not about Sharpton, so who cares?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Name thank you. There are a lot of good black people. But there is a large population of black people that aren't good. For 12.6% of the population there is a large disproportionate ruthless part on the black side. There are bad white people too but for a much larger population it isn't nearly as many blacks. I just wish the world was a better place. No racist puns intended but it's hard not to.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      Those two guy's are to big of a fool to be racist. I have felt the effect of Jesse Jackson, and that result was nothing. And this is coming from one Blck American. Al is just a looser, and Jesse is still hanging on to JLK's coat tail. Without JLK no one would know of Jackson but this mother and dad.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      Sorry that was MLK, not JLK.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • BritinCan

      I totally agree. Hope the American justice system is not buckling under pressure of some marchers in the park! The Lord btw doesn't work in the way u r using him either. He doesn't believe in an eye for an eye. Turn the other cheek and love thy neighbor. Don't use his name in vain for your vindictiveness. The Lord this and the Lord that – stand there and say what u really mean. Al sharp ton getting on the band wagon again!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. larry5

    This will be an interesting case once it get into court. How in the heck are they going to pick a jury with the media and Obama have already convicted him?

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

      Larry...please show us the time and date where the President convicted Zimmerman...facts only please. Oh, by the way, say hello to Moe and Curly.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxhawk70

      Even one black juror would deadlock the case to find Zimmerman innocent!

      Is there even one black person in this country that thinks he is innocent? No... It appears that that would require impartial judgement and looking at the facts!

      I am sorry your child was killed but he should not have returned and feloneous assaulted Zimmerman! He made the wrong choice and paid for it with his life!

      Bending the rules in this case to try someone defending their own life is an outrage!

      It seems to me that Martin's handle "No-limit-n****r" refers to the no limit to n****r justice in this nation!

      You cannot bend the law just to suit people because they threaten violence and put pressure on with the media!

      Outrageous!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. arkiieron

    Where was tall the interest in justice by the Black Community in the Nicole Simpson murder? I don't remember Al Sharpton being there for her family. If we are ever going to get away from race issues in this country, then citizens of every race will need to recognize victims as simply victims regardless of their race. That wasn't the case with the Simpson murder and it sure doesn't seem to be with the death of Teavon Martin.

    CNN and Anderson Cooper continue to attempt to try the case by Media.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fauxhawk70

    This is an outrage!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DISGUSTED

    Just is Just
    I feel truly SORRY for you.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sam

    Stop calling Zimmerman a 'White-Latino'.. that is the lamest thing I've ever heard. It's like you guys are just begging to find some sort of link between a dead black kid and a somewhat-kinda-sorta-white guy

    April 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyd Cartwright

      CNN please do 4 simple things:

      1. post the number of blacks killed by blacks in the State of Florida this year by violent crime or otherwise.

      2. post the number of those black on black murders where CNN ran around the clock coverage until arrest(s) were made.

      3. post the many reasons why your company continually race-baits any-and-all issues to form perceived racism by Whites on Blacks.

      4. lastly, post what dollar amount the white community (and now it seems Latino community) will have to pay in order for the black community to feel 'whole' or 'even' for said crimes against black humanity that no one in this century had anything to do with.

      These 4 items will help not only the White and Latino communities but also will help the Black community see where we all stand in this race (no pun intended) to even things up.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe Blow

    Trayvon's mom thanked Jesus. Really? Jesus had something to do with his arrest??

    April 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BlackStang

    THE REAL GUILTY PARTIES here are the mainstream media and the race pimps who have been EXPOSED for pushing and twisting this story for their own financial gain and ratings. The mainstream media outlets should be ASHAMED of themselves for putting the lives of George Zimmerman and his family in danger. The white man is being demonized here. THE REAL KILLERS OF BLACKS ARE THE ABORTION CLINICS.

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

      By the way black murder blacks more than anyone. About 90% of black murders are by black people. There are 3x more black people in prison than college. LOL.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I don't know if it was murder or self defense. But some people are making some $$$ from it. Funny how the system can be twisted for their cause.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Hey look it's a NIG convention! Screw these racist nigs.

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

      Paul, that funny because its the same thing your mom wants to do.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    GO FIGURE! They have to calm the herd somehow. Black people murder white people at 7X the rate of white on black murder. For black people only being 12.6% of the population of people. They cause most of the crime. So mathematically black people are to be questioned and feared. This self defense might have been justified. But at least Zimmerman wasn't out robbing and raping then murdering someone. He was trying to help a community. Not to destroy homes and communities. By the way black murder blacks more than anyone. About 90% of black murders are by black people. There are 3x more black people in prison than college. LOL.

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

      You don't see anyone fearing Asians or Samoan people.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • VALivin

      Wow you are sad and making up your own statistics to suit your lame assessment!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
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