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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Zimmerman will be found guilty and a black inmate will kill him a the lych mobs will hail him as heroe, only in America they can put a price on somebody head and get away with it, the higher ups ordered to charge Zimmerman after all it is elecction year.
    Who cares Tray-von was a punk, that carry burglary tools, that he was a criminal on the making thanks to the poor parenting.
    This is Justice. By the way did the black mobs that were beating a white man were charged?

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

    Cudos to Obama to stick his racist nose into protecting a crack head and getting an innocent man charged with murder.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*jasmine

      No cudos to you for reminding us all how racism us still alive. First you all hid behing white hoods and now the computer. sad

      April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Relentless

      Who's the crack head and who's the innocent man? You have a perception issue along with your ridiculous allegations against the President of the United States. If you don't like it go back to where your ancestors came from. Europe isn't no where near as racist as the U.S. So once again you have perception issues and no clue about the world.

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

      Okay...lets blame Obama for ummmm.....that team that lost the NCAA. Oh wait, I'll blame him for the reason why my client was late for the conference call today. I will think of some other bogus stuff to blame him for...this is how you sound. Ridiculous

      April 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lonny Bush

    Free goeorge Zimmerman!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Stan

    I feel like they were bullied by the black community into bringing charges. If he's found not guilty I wonder how many black cities will riot.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pravda

      Yup, animals....

      April 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Can't wait. Let them riot. Ill ne standing my ground if they come by me. Locked and loaded.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anonymous

    Outrageous!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dot8

    It was either charge Zimmerman with second degree murder or have a full blown riot- I believe that's how Florida came to this conclusion.

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

      yep. im willing to be the jury not find him guilty of this.. or even manslaughter. i bet you at most he'll get 3 years.. maybe nothing. evidence helps zimmerman.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyd Cartwright

      What they don't realize is that they now solidified the White and Latino communities together... if there was ever a time in Florida in the past 100 yrs where 2 races just came together it was just now with this arrest.

      The brewing has just begun – you think this didn't kick off a nice race-war on the make well you're in for a real show.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. White America

    Most confusing day on the black community?
    Fathers day

    April 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*jasmine

      So instead of hiding behind a white hood, your hiding behind your computer. Nice.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • it's ok

      now thats fing funny!!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • philtration

      You are just a frightened little boy.

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

      Golly, that's clever. It must kill in your trailer park

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

      Racist creep. Crawl back under your rock.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Well it sounds like your are confused everyday. You don't seem to get out too much...LOL You talk like your 150 yrs old.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyd Cartwright

      All these people on here against George need to go ahead on down to the doorstep of the martin hood and tell them you're there to help..shout it out loud.. then walk around his neighborhood and make sure to leave the doors to your cars unlocked.. don't worry, you'll be safe – I promise them thugs will embrace you..

      April 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truthtell3r

      you're what's wrong with life. I need you to do something for me...Go play in front of daddies semi.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. R O F L

    Second Degree murder won't stick in a fair court of law. This is just appealing to the race inciters and white guilt. It's PATHETIC

    April 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • izy

      racial comments like yours and white america are going to be catalyst for what youre afraid of, not the case with Zimmerman and Martin, believe me, your words are being read by other ethnic groups, and you are showing your true bias mentality by commenting in that manner.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • sabinla

      this is to all the troglodytes that think Zimmerman is being treated unfairly. Use your brain and look at the facts.
      Fact 1. Zimmerman had a gun. 2.Zimmerman has a history of violence. 3. Zimmerman was told by 911 not to engage
      Mr. Martin but he did anyway. This is a free country so should someone approach me aggressively thats what they are going to get back. Face it ,Zimmerman was looking for trouble. He wanted to be a cop but couldn't hack it.
      He deserves to be charged . That boy was doing nothing but walking home in his own neighborhood.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. descarado

    Latinos will remember this lynch mob in November!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • izy

      Im latino, and I am happy Zimmerman is getting what he deserves, Martin deserves justice....he was definitely the aggressor.

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

    Yay for the NIGS!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • ABeliever

      And someone still questions if racism exists in America today...Huh? With all the racial slurs and comments posted on this blog, it is obvious! Let's just say God is still in control! There is no need for petty and juvial name calling and quite frankly it shows ignorance. Both families are in need of prayer! This could be one of us-either position. God bless each of you!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Maybe_Me

    No way on earth George Zimmerman can get a fair trial after the media has already tried & convicted him in the court of public opinion. This trial will be a circus, and regardless of the outcome, justice will not be served.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      until he walks out of the courthouse

      April 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammi2

      You are so right. He will not get a fair trail. I am so sorry to see this all happen in now day and age

      April 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Juan Garcia

    If he wasn't Hispanic he would never be charged. American's just don't believe that a proud Hispanic man was out there defending his community. They assume he shot for no reason.

    We need to march on the streets and demand justice for our hermano.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • The entire debate about this case is sad

      Zimmerman is jewish! His father is a retired Jewish attorney!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyd Cartwright

      If there's one good thing to come out of this – it has solidified the Latino and White communities. We all know what's been going on for years, no matter how CNN tries to spin it. These so-called thug-saints who are out buying skittles and iced teas got this boy shot, so CNN don't blame poor ol George – he was just defending us all.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pravda

    Zimmerman for President! Heck, he couldn't do worse than Obama, and is less racist...

    April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. James

    The Trayvon tragedy has become secohndary now. The real story has become the hatred that is being displayed concerning this issue. We are on course to destroy ourselves from within as Kramer says, but is ALL of us to blame, and we seem satisfied with that result

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

    FEBRUARY 26 is National Zimmerman day!! Woooo Hoooo!!!

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