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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Will someone please tell me how big Martin was and the relative size of him and Zimmerman? If Martin had run like his girlfriend suggested I have trouble seeing how Zimmerman could have caught him if Martin was the athlete he's been portrayed to be.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arobins1

      Last I heard Zimmerman is 5'9, average weight, Martin was 6'2"ish

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • noyreT

      what a dumb question...Idiot!!

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

      No cause they keep showing you a picture of the supposed victim when he was 12. If you got a chance to see his facebook or twitter pic it was nothing like the one the media flaunts to fit their idea of what the story should be.

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

      Zimmerman was in a car... that how he could have kept pace with him. You shouldn't have any trouble with that.

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

      Does it matter...if its dark outside and i see a guy creepin up on me i doubt id be very friendly...leave the questioning to the professionals...thta is the most ridiculous gun law ive heard of...i could literally start a fight with you..get you worked up enough to come toward me or raise a hand...and i can feel "reasonably" threatened and kill you...lmbo...the wild wild west...too funny...get this case over and people need to get along..and change that idiotic law

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

      Zimmerman – 5'10"ish 225-250 lbs. Martin – 6'4" 185.

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

      Would size matter if Zimmerman shot and killed your unarmed child AND was not at the very least ARRESTED? Just curious.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      You will never get those straight from CNN. They paraded Zimmerman before the nation in handcuffs at the police station (I thought that was against the Geneva convention... oh yeah... right... we don't give our own citizens the same rights that we do people who are out killing our soldiers and sailors). You saw Zimmerman in a mug shot. You saw Martin in his gangsta hoodie and his gangsta knit watchcap..... all as a child.... never got to see Martin in his full form and definately never saw a video of him walking around! Why? CNN is run by black folks who have an axe to grind against white people and hate white people. Too bad Zimmerman wasn't white though! HAAHAHAHAHA!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArtInChicago

      They were not on a polyurethane tarten track running 400 meters. If the boy was running thru a complex, which he rarely was in for it was his father's girlfriend's place, he could have gotten disoriented for the units look quite similar. Starts and stops. But as I understand Martin was about 5"7" app. 155lbs. Zimmerman about 6' 220lbs.

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

      You are missing the point. Firstly, Martin was on foot, and Zimmerman in a car. even still, you can't outrun a bullet can you? If the reports are true that Zimmerman went against the advise of 911 and pursued anyway, it's quite obvious that Zimmerman was seeking a confrontation.

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

      He used his car. Car is faster than legs.

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

      Trayvon didnt run. He was on the phone with his girlfriend and told her a man was following him. The girlfriend told Trayvon to run. He said no hes not running. My question is how can someone plead a stand your ground when that person was the actual persuar, No matter if Zimmerman got beat up or not. He was the persuar. Trayvon stood his ground, Trayvon acted in self defense and sadly enoough lost his life. I would feel the same way if it was another race. The fact remains Trayvon was the prey and Zimmerman was the predator. The rest of how the story unfolded was because the predator took matters into his own hands. I wish people would stop looking at color and see it for what it really is. No innocent person deserves to die based on an assumption.

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

      He shouldn't have to run! He had the right to defend himself like anyone else. Does 'stand your ground' sound familiar?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ABC

      The media keeps showing pics of a younger Martin and hardly a pic of him in Feb 2012 who was much bigger.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. glades2

    No, proof that a volunteer should not do a policeman's job – I've been a volunteer of different varieties over the years and we were always told that we were not a replacement for the real thing – and should never consider ourselves that way, and in this case he should have listened to the 911 operator's advice and just observed – from a distance. A volunteer should only be that, unless directly told otherwise by someone in authority, and that's where he crossed a line because he acted on his own...

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

      You were also probably told that neighborhood watch should not carry anything but a flashlight and a cell phone as well as that is the standard neighborhood watch spiel issued by 99% of all police departments to neighborhood watch groups around the country. But remember Zimmerman was a "Self Appointed" neighborhood watch he was never trained on how to act like the neighborhood watch should. He also was not put in that position by his neighbors. But hey Zimmerman wanted to be a cop so I guess that's ok lmao

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

      hes not going to be charged. cool your jets people.

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

      May be his mistake was not to listen to the 911 operator but we don't know if he was attacked and then he had to defend himself. In the time you were a neighborhood watch person, were you ever attacked? At this point is too early to draw conclusion. Too many people ready to convict someone before knowing all the facts.

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

    Good luck finding him...he's on the lamb!

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

      he may be on the lamb but he aint no sheep

      April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. walkthetalk

    I had no idea there were so many legal experts posting on CNN these days. FAIL.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ConsiderThis

    Why is there so much hate in Americal the self-proclaimed "CHRISTIAN NATION"? In church on Sunday, hating and killing on Monday. Seems to me that people would just get plain tired of carrying hatred in their hearts. But I guess since you're taught to hate from birth, they can't help themselves. Bred ignorance.

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

      Christian nation? I thought we had separation of church and state?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stopthemadness

      Because that's the republican way, didn't you know that? HATE MONGERING fake hypocritical want to be Christians is more like it.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CrakHo

    Just what we need...an angry mob being able to force the issue and have charges pressed. I'm not saying there shouldn't be charged but letting the Court of Public Opinion is a very dangerous road to start down.

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

      If Zimmerman is charged now, then he should've been charged in the first place. The prosecutor will make a decision on the merits, not just because the public is upset.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      I'd rather have our path go down the road that leads to a jury making a reasoned examination of the facts than one where a person who admittedly killed another human being gets off without reproach.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    He will be acquitted.
    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.

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

      ARE U SERIOUS DUDE. BLACK PEOPLE HAVE KILLED MORE WHITE PEOPLE?. ARE UYOUREALLY SERIOUS? CHECK THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN AND AFRO AMERICANS AND THEN I WANT YOU TO RE-WRITE YOUR POST.

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

      Show your stats and where you got them. Oh wait you can't because you are full of it.

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

      u sound like an ass

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Where do you get your statistics ? Besides, even if that's true, what does that have to do with anything ? Black people also go to jail statistically more than whites. If a black person murdered a white person or any other person, you can be assured they will be charged with that murder. Are you getting the point unbesteveable ?

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

      Trayvon wasn't out raping, robbing, or murdering anybody either. He didn't deserve his death sentence at the hands of a vigilante.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • lys

      really and how many white people going around kidnapping and eating humans oh wait and also going into schools and shooting really!! are you and him related....

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • lys

      really and how many white people going around kidnapping and eating humans oh wait and also going into schools and shooting really!! are you and him related....

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

    Stupid to think this was about race...this was. Supposed to be about a young man not about colors..

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

    Now all they need is a jury of all black people and their conviction is assured. Mob mentality rules! If no conviction, riot, then re-try. After Rodney King, we all know how it works now.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hmmm

    God bless their families

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

    The special prosecutor has to charge him or she will be killed. Who didn't know this all along?

    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pete

    If the colored want a handout then give them a bar of soap and stick of deodorant. Not that they would know what to do with it though.

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

      To bad your momma never used a condom, not that she would know what to do with it!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. noogar

    he will never do a day in prison you worthless loads of coal

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. kingofknox12

    @Joan no they're saying the charges may have been formally filed but not made public yet because Zimmerman may be a flight risk. Go over to Faux News with the other morons, and quit trolling. Thanks.

    Although the length of time it's taken to formally charge Zimmerman reinforces my belief that Zimmerman most likely did it (you don't take this long with this level of public outcry unless you have evidence you think will be strong enough to convict someone you believe guilty), I wonder what they'll charge him with. Money's on voluntary manslaughter . He should be charged with 1st-degree murder – or at least 2nd-degree – but frankly there seem to be too many differing accounts to charge him with that. Prosecutors want convictions so they can keep their jobs; they're not picky on what types of convictions they get

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Blanco

    Proof that you better not walk or live where black folks live. Time to riot like white people do! Take your money, your business, your job makers, everything..... out of blackie reach.

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