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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. jazz648

    To those who feel that this another case of black people being unnecessarily vocal to achieve a result, you're wrong. The state attorney having jurisdiction over Sanford " tried" Zimmerman and deemed him innocent based upon an incomplete investigation. There are racial overtones. In America, black people have NEVER been treated fairly with any consistency. The last 30 years has witnessed America's effort to do so. The NAACP, Black Entertainment Television, black colleges, beauty pageants, fraternities and sororities all exist due to segregation and discrimination. Does racism still exist? Yes. Read some of the posts responding to this article. It is not as bad as it used to be because of civil rights laws. That, in and of itself is, a sad statement in that a country had to pass laws to protect a group of citizens. Yet there still exists an undercurrent of blatant racism here. Senseless racism. At this point there have been 4066 responses to this article, many are hostile and based on race. Racism is going away slowly and as it does, so will the NAACP and people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Milhous

    Yep, maybe now Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson can go back and help OJ search tirelessly for the person that murdered Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Just ask their families if justice was served. Hyprocites.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hal Atosis

      So that is why OJ had himself thrown in jail! He is actually working undercover to find the murderer of Nicole and Ron. I hope he told the Warden like on TV.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hal Atosis

    The fix is certainly in. By prosecutor shopping, eliminating the Grand Jury and kow towing to the Sharpton Panthers, Sanford has thrown Zimmerman under the bus in exchange for minimal riots and mayhem.

    What is left, moving the trial to Watts to make it more "fair"?

    April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jazz648

      Someone's in a snit. Go have your milk and cookies.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chuck

    Here we go again with anther Trial Circus

    between this and the election we never hear about any other news, l had to get information about the Quake in Indonisia from Al Jezzera for pete sake

    April 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. matthew

    Reverse Discrimination = OK in 2012.
    Other people can riot and march too demanding equality !!! It's not just for the black population. The problem is is that the white population will never stick together and demand equality and if they did the FBI would be surrounding them like they did Waco. Truth be told, the white male is a minority, maybe they can get jobs through "affirmative action". Black Panthers are allowed to threaten a race war is a sign that there are two sets of rules. God help if the white race does that.

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

      What is reverse discrimination? Discrimination is just that; discrimination. Justice has been served. Deal with it.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. descarado

    The Obama tribe is a crackhead, gangsta tribe of losers that will riot in a mall over a new pair of sneakers.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Duke

    If I am on the jury, he will spend many happy years in prison. Or at least until he is shanked.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TRUTH N MUSTACHES

    LOL – Samantha I am a 22 year old white girl... and a lier...

    who are you kidding your a 32 year old b|ack woman that hate's people that arent "B|ack"

    Racist America is being manipulated by the racist Rev.lol – Sharpie and Jackson, why is it then when a hispanic child is killed, these freedom fighters dont come to the rescure ? Racial ! Why do they not stand up and fight for the injustice done daily in D.C ? I will NOT be ashamed of my race -Ever ! You should be ashamed of your race if it is responsible for 82% of all violent crimes, you should be ashamed if your race under 25 commites a violent crime every 5 minutes, you should be ashamed if your race operates 78% of the drug traffic in the united states. The Truth Hurts

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

      Try spell check

      April 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • dhub

      That is so true sharpton and jackson are nothing but trouble makers. They just make situations worse and make everything out as racist.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • CSI

      Couldn't agree with you more! I am a 35 year old white woman who works with law enforcement. I am constantly called derogatory and racist names because I wear "the uniform" by black men and women. Who do I call to help me with the racist rants I have to hear? Al Sharpton? No, because I am white. Jessie Jackson? No, again I am white? The KKK??? Heck no, I wouldn't want them to represent me anyway.

      What is a white chick to do? DEAL WITH IT!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. whiteamerican

    LEAVE THAT MEN FREE! LET HIM FREE! WITH THIS I HATE BLACKS MORE

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

      You can hate me all you want to, but I'm going to love you, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs and any other people that God has made because I want to go to heaven one day.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bubba

    If Zimmerman is guilty, then I hope he will be found so by a jury. I just think that most of us don't begin to know all of the facts...I just can't believe how quick everyone is judge him and find him guilty. The really strange thing is how this is a case of an alleged crime of one minority against another...and so many are saying this is racially motivated (that he wasn't arrested right away).

    Why don't we all just wait and see what ALL the facts are in this case, and let a jury decide whether he is guilty or not. So far, this has been a 21st century LYNCHING!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dhub

    My opionion from what I heard is that he is guilty of murder. But if he didn't its ashame because he will never get a fair trial. All of this is because of how sorry the police department is. All they had to do was there job.

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

      Although I believe Zimmerman is guilty, I pray that he gets a fair trial because as an American, he deserves that. I also pray for his and his family's protection. I want everything to be decided in a court of law by a jury of his peers.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Yolanda

    Nancy Grace, you are such a fool. Everyone has the right to defend themselves, even if by deadly force. It doesn't matter what color they are. If a thug attacks me, regardless of age or color, I will use any means necessary to stay alive. You just want your rating, even if it cost some one their freedom.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • memcats

      You can be the aggressor, getting your butt kicked, if it happen that way, and claim self defense in killing someone.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • memcats

      You can't be the aggressor, getting your butt kicked, if it happen that way, and claim self defense in killing someone.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tiara grim

    it is sad howmuch hate goes into hating one race. The fact is blacks did not ask to come to america . we were paid for. to be honest several slaves died by jumping off the ship because they did not want to be transported. blacks helped raise most white kids, the reason white families ate good meals, we built your homes and teanded to your crops. you hate us so bad yet we help america get to were it is. yes it sad that the crime rate is high among the black community..yet i live in the suburbs of my state and white people kill everyday whether its blowing up theirs houses doing meth or killing each other because their spouse cheated. i dnt believe black people blow up high schools we dnt kill our parents over allowance.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Criminal Justice

      I did not bring you or your ancestors to America. My ancestors did not bring Africans to America either. I am considered "white" because my Austrian ancestors have light skin. Black people are more prejudice than white people. Get over it.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ann

    I love all these "If I get on the jury" comments. Um, you won't. Because derp, you're not objective. And on a case like this, they're going to go to the ends of the earth to weed out the "hang 'em high" or "free Zimmerman" types. As per usual, this case will be decided by 12 people too dumb to get out of jury duty. *snort*

    April 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. descarado

    Hermanos o hermanas, recuerde en noviembre!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
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