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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    @the law...lol...the only man in a suit in DC raping us is Obama! He's only white when it helps him!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. thomas payne

    Charge with murder 2, end up with a manslaughter conviction. He will get some time and everyone will go away claiming victory. Lawyers will get paid and all will be happy.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Truth in your face

    I was thinking today about Zimmermans claims of 'self defense'. I wondered, if I were Trayvon and some clown followed me on the way home from the store, I ran from him and he got out of his car to chase me. Would I have jumped on him if I had the chance? Would I have been wrong for feeling threatened and attacking my stalker? What do you think folks? Does Zimmermans defense hold weight after he made Trayvon fear for his life?

    April 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MArk

    The biggest problem here is media outlets arent just posting news, they are posting news as a social networking site. We are all getting bits and pieces to form an opinion on, and we arent the jury. Facts only. What he and she said is a matter for a jury to decide, and I for one have other things going on in my life to worry about it. At this point, Zim could say he needs to go to Paraguay to get a fair trial, and Id agree. Im looking at 140 pages of opinions here, and all that shows me is that either you people dont have enough things to occupy your time, or your time is based on things you have no input in and you need to unplug and get a life. I dont care what your opinions are, its not up to you to decide what the facts are and determine the course of the rest of a persons life. Get a life people. I, for one, wiould be very pleased to have a less populated internet to use for constructive things such as ordering my portable walrus grooming kit.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    Look" the most important thing now is the process... Everyone can have a point of view. As a nation we have to realize this is 2012 our judicial system was constructed light years prior to mass media. As a Nation we have a responsibility to resist the urge of trying to influence the 12 jurors (should it get that far) with our individual points of view. Regardless of what side you are on

    I would also like to give my condolences to the Mother and Father of Trayvon Martin, I could not possibly fathom what it must feel like to lose a child in this, or any other manner. The love that the both of you have displayed for your child through your strength, dignity and endurance has been a wonderful tribute to what LOVE truly is. God bless you all.......

    April 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mary

    Only can hope that "IF" he does not get the punishment or non punishment people are expecting.. They will not riot and protest..
    The law does not always work the way you think it should..
    Like it or not..
    Just like the Casey Anthony verdict..
    People will have to suck it up and move on..
    No mater how it turns out..

    April 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Wayne

      boo boo boo

      April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ABarker

    Justice had nothing to do with this. This is about staving off riots. I want to see justice done but I can't see it happening. Not with all the media hype and the family portraying Martin as some little boy which, at 17 – he wasn't. If Zimmerman is really guilty, fine he should face the consequences. But if not, I just hope he's not sacraficed for the "greater good"

    April 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • reggie

      I'm black and if i was on the jury...he would walk free cause of all this.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • jazz648

      I haven'ot heard ANYONE mention "rioting" but you. Do you live on the same planet? His family went through legal procedure to initiate justice because–their son was dead and they wouldn't accept the police explanation. Good for them. I hope you never wake to your son laying dead in a morgue and the police telling you that there won't be any arrests because the shooter, among other things, "had a squeaky clean record".

      April 11, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. White America

    Zimmerman will be a freeman

    April 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Dude

    Tyrone Woodfork charged in home invasion, elderly murder
    Al? Jesse?

    April 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. D.Y.

    SHAME on Angela Corey for pursuing this type of case; Mr. Martin was a loser and, he had NO purpose and or justification to be in the neighborhood...

    April 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabe

      Apart from staying there.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • MD

      You aren't very bright, are you?

      April 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      His father stayed in the neighborhood

      April 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • canadachick3

      No justification?! He was staying with his father who lived in that neighbourhood! He had every right to be there!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jazz648

      No purpose or justification to be there? How about visiting with his father and his father's fiancee?

      April 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • PTNY

      His father's Fiance' lives in the complex. His son Travon was visiting his father.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Wayne

    boo

    April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Logical thinking human being

    It's 2nd degree murder and there are already so many stipulations. There's no way it'll stick, NOT A CHANCE. Not to mention if he does actually go to prison he'll be accepted with open arms by either the Mexican Mafia or a Neo Nazi gang, the two most feared prison gangs. It'll be paradise for him! Thank God it's finally going to court. Now the white guilt and race cards being thrown can stop. Go screw yourself America.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lovetheusaorleave

    Well now that he has been arrested when will charges be brought against the leaders of the Black Panther organization which publicly put out a bounty on his head, which is a solicitation for murder? I am willing to bet that never happens.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lonny Bush

    There she said "tot mom" well hey "FATMOM" to you nancy grace!!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jupman

    4k comments and most of them by trolls. Lots of facts out of no one cares about. And statments about other crime that happens. Cases like this are stupid only a small subset thinks this case is about race..Zim started a fight with a kid and when he started to Lose he pulled a gun. If you looked at the show Boondocks this is a clear cut case of. Ni*ga moment. You tube it and tell me I am wrong.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
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