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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. T'sah From Virginia

    Supporters of Trayvon should now put all of that energy inside them towards "repealing" the Stand Your Ground law; especially if Zimmerman walks free because of it!! Got Justice – Still No Peace – Repeal SYG!!!!

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

      This law does not need repeal, it is a good law. I back the NRA is upholding this law. I keep a gun in my house and with me in my car. I am not afaird to use it should my life or my family be threatened. Stick to your insane liberal posts on Politics T-Shah. Also you can cry a river when Romney kicks Obama the worthless to the curb.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • T'sah From Virginia

      @Scott – Are you following me? You keep your guns in your car and in your home and if someone attack you there, then you shoot them between the eyes. By then, the Stand Your Ground law would have already been repealed and you will be in jail for life. Also, Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUp with PC

      You should have a lot of energy after sitting on your lazy, do nothing, welfare collecting rear.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • T'sah From Virginia

      I am a Sr. Prog Analyst and have been working all of my life. I most likely make more money than you would make in a lifetime. I do not sit here all day and I do not collect welfare. Next time, post something that shows at least you have a brain!

      April 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SMJR

    Now the circus will really begin.....look at Casey Anthony......we all thought she was going to be found guilty from the beginning.......we thought the DA had all the evidence they needed, Mr. Jose proved us all wrong and won the case. I think Zimmerman has a lot better chance then Casey did, and there is not nearly as much evidence as the Anthony trial had...

    April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DaveL

    jealous says that 'we've got to address the valuation of young black men's lives by law enforcement'. What they need to address is the (non) valuation of young black men's lives by other young black males. That would cut the homicide rate by 50%...

    April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. descarado

    The difference between Latinos and the Obama tribe is that Latinos will work TWO minimum wage jobs in order to hold their heads up high and support their families while the Obama tribe is quite content to be 2d, 3rd and 4th generation welfare crackheads wasting their meager brains away on the NBA and Oprah until the next pair of hot $150 sneakers hit the stores.

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

      Sir, you know nothing about my people!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • T'sah From Virginia

      Wow – you know our people quite well – Well maybe the difference between Latinos and White people is the fact you will do their lawn and then kick to the curb when they get busted for hiring illegals. The only reason I came back at you is because of the ridiculous statement you just made.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. true american

    Today is a sad day in America, when a man defending his life is charged with second degree murder. All this cause of low life piece of craps like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Justice in America can now be silenced by the race card. This day American justice has failed to serve true justice.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • The entire debate about this case is sad

      Wow,
      sad day in America when you are charged with a murder after several months! A teenager is dead because he was shot and killed! Wow

      April 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • T'sah From Virginia

      Today is really a sad day – a man who killed an unarmed teen who I feel was not the aggressor could possibly get off because of a "dumb-ash" Stand Your Ground law. Also, if it were not for Jackson and Sharpton, this sad day would be a "happy day" because Sanford police would have swept this crime under the rug!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pumpki

    Travyon's girlfriend was on the phone with him during the beginnings of the incident. Why is everyone pretending that her phone call with him doesn't matter? It's a big piece of evidence in my opinion.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?!? Comment Section

      What's with the stone age comment section setup?

      April 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CSH

    Bet he's wishing he had listened to that 911 operator and left him alone. Too much power for the neighborhood watch man, I think.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Josh

    the mob howled and cried for blood and the elected offices feared for their jobs

    April 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. White America

    TM probably stole that iced tea and skittles

    April 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colby

      What an ignorant racist comment. Try watching less Fox Noise. This comment's from a white man that is all too often ashamed of his red neck white fellow citizens like you. Ask yourself; what if the 17 year old was white and the shooter was black? We never would have heard about the shooting because that man would have gone straight to jail. Justice in the country is too often driven by the color of a mans skin and how much money he has. Shame shame shame.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. udub

    you whites are scared!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • White America

      Scared? You'll probably be in prison by the end of the year

      April 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • udub

      I'm a rich black man. Prison? You fool.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Fear and/ or ignorance is the reason why fools get on blogs to play big. This blog is nothing more than a white sheet for folks that would NEVER go there in public.

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

    George Zimmerman walked up to trayvon martin and said i need about tree fiddy.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jersey

    So many racist in this country it's embarrassing. What I notice is there are a lot of people who have an opinion based on emotion. the only thing that matters is that there wilbe a trial. Good bad or indifferent, that is what this beautiful country is based on. If he is found not guilty so be it, but to not charge him at all would have been a real crime.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Yes that's right you are racist.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe Smith

    Where is the uproar over children, adults, killed in black neighborhoods every day by other black citizens. Why is shapton not in Crenshaw in LA as he knows he would be jacked within 2 minutes. Why is this so different?

    April 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmhhhmmmmm

      Cuz theyre gunna be like lemme get tree fiddy and hell say no then theyll jack him. He aint got tree fiddy :/

      April 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. samsart

    Way too late for this to be happening. If he had been held, tested, questioned, and a far more thorough investigation done at the beginning- he would not have been tried in the court of public opinion. His words and actions do not mix- they are in contradiction with one another. If fearful..why get out of the car? If told to not engage, repeatedly, why did he? When he did engage, the boy had the same law on his side- stand his ground when threatened. No matter how this plays out now, the law needs to be re-evaluated in Florida. It's too flawed. IF it should turn out that Zimmerman was just in the mood to kill someone, anyone, that's bad enough. IF it turns out that he targeted Martin because of his race, that's even worse. At some point in time, all across this country, intolerance for racism needs to be met with supreme consequences, for it seems that we can't all just get along.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hoopdreamz24

    either way Zimmereman is going to get his, in jail or on the streets....Too all you racists hiding behind your computer screen, keep doing it cause we all know you are all cowards and wont say it to anyones face...

    April 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
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