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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    If there wasn't enough evidence in this case for the prosecutor to feel comfortable with filing murder in the 2nd degree, she wouldn't had charged Zimmerman. Even the author of the crazy stand your ground law has indicated that the law doesn't apply in this case. The 911 tapes and the phone records will punch holes in Zimmerman story and reveal him for the killer that he is.

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

      Zimmerman and his lawyers have themselves said the the "stand your ground" law doesn't apply here. He says he was defending himself, which he has a right to do (and none of us were there so we don't know if he was justified in "defending" himself or not. That will be for the jury to decide...why don't we all just wait and see how the trial comes out.

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

      I think the prosecuter brought charges because she felt like HER life was in danger!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Yolanda

    He was a thug, look at his recent pictures. We should of picked our own cotton.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Criminal Justice

    CNN...please put up photos of Trayvon Martin that are current. I am so tired of seeing photos portraying him as a small framed little kid. He was a pretty large guy.

    Also, if the KKK was to go on national tv and offer a bounty for a black man there would be riots in the streets. We all know this. I don't understand how the New Black Panther Party is getting away with all the crap they do on a daily basis.

    With that being said, Zimmerman should have kept his butt at home instead of trying to be an officer of the law. A neighborhood watchman has no right to pursue someone, especially when he was advised to not follow him. Also, why in the heck was he allowed to have a firearm? He has had run ins with the law and I just dont understand why he was able to carry a firearm.

    As a concealed carry instructor, I believe in the 2nd Amendment and the right to protect yourself if needed. I also believe Mr. Zimmerman should be put behind bars and stay there for quite some time. He is an embarrassment and is not an example of how law abiding gun advocates should be behaving.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      FREAKIN" AMEN!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • 23 from texas

      The legal chagres against Zim were dropped. He was able to be a gun owner because there were no standing charges against him.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lonny Bush

    Zimmerman is not guilty and i bet my white a– on that!!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. memcats

    If there wasn't enough evidence in this case for the prosecutor to feel comfortable with filing murder in the 2nd degree, she wouldn't had charged Zimmerman. Even the author of the crazy stand your ground law has indicated that the law doesn't apply in this case. The 911 tapes and the phone records will punch holes in Zimmerman story and reveal him for the killer that he is. Equal justice for Trayvon

    April 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TIM(0AKCLIFF)

    RIGHT IS RIGHT AND WRONG IS WRONG..IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS A SIMPLE MISUNDERSTANDING THAT WENT TRAGIC.ALL ZIMMERMAN HAD TO DO WAS SIMPLY LISTEN TO THE 911 DISPATCHER AND NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE EVEN HAPPEN.WHEN YOU TAKE THE LAW IN YOUR OWN HANDS AND TRY TO CLAIM SELF DEFENSE WHEN YOU WHERE THE AGGERESOR NOT BUYIG IT..THE DAY A BLACK MAN AS A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCHMEN DOES THE SAMETHING THAT ZIMMERMAN DID AND KILL A 17 YEAR OLD WHITE KID OR HISPANIC KID AND HE NOT GET ARREST GIVE ME A HOLLA...PEACE N LOVE

    April 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tiara grim

    and obama is half white and black so he represent you and me ha!!!!!......stop tryna label him just black yet you wanna say zimmerman is half and half .....get over yourself you all are whats sad. and to white america hate all you want because your people brought us here and we are here to stay.....

    April 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karoline Lampert

      "My" people never brought anyone anywhere I just got here in 2002. As for labeling the president black, I think he is doing a pretty good job of that himself. Why don't you get over yourself and get some counseling sounds like the only one here with issues is you.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    If you are White or Hispanic and you have even a twinge of guilt over what happend in Florida .... check out what happened in Baltimore on St. Paddy's Day last month. You can take any quilt you had and wipe it away. Check out these sub-humans!!!!
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm7OSgC6dhE&w=640&h=390]

    April 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. White America

    Zimmerman will walk

    April 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. matthew

    White man beat by black males in Baltimore = no news worthy front page, no riots by caucasions, and no Rev. Al coming to the rescue, no demands for equality and justice by caucasions. Watch the video on CNN of the white guy getting the snot beat out of him and robbed while being videoed. What would have happened if this had been a black male getting beat, robbed and stripped ??? We all know what would be happening...the FBI would have a task force on the way, Rev Al and Jessie would be camped out in that town demanding "Justice", CNN and all the news media would have vans and satellites stationed all around the area and there would be a full blown riot by the African American race.
    Wake up folks, it's two sets of rules evidently. Why can't other races demand equality??????

    April 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*jasmine

      And they were wrong for beating that man up and should be arrested and sent to jail. I am an african american woman who feels like no one is above the law. If you do the crime you must pay. Zimmerman killed someone, he needs to go to jail. So do these men who beat up that man. Shame on people who can't value human life.

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

      LIKE Amen

      April 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • HUG

      Although I agree with you, it's two different situation. One is a murder case while the other one is an assault.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RudyG

    At no point have I heard anyone in the Sharpton group say they will accept the jury's verdict, whatever it is. All I hear is they will march and march and march until the "right thing" is done! Right thing in America means the jury's verdict, not your opinion and political agenda, Reverend Sharpton. If Zimmerman is found guilty then let him rot in jail. If he is not, then let him be! Of course, we all know that's going to be difficult for Sharpton and company to accept.

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

      Did you even read the article? TM's mom: "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." Try to stay objective, please.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chitownbears

    No one knows the facts to this case save for the detectives and the investigators. Any opinions or assumptions are pure speculation. That being said, it is not too difficult to decipher the supporters of either the victim or defendant based on some of these statements being posted. This is not a race war. Some people need to grow up, seriously.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Erica.

    The racism on here is so disgusting. I'm appalled. You guys call yourself adults? Get over yourselves. By the way I'm white. Thanks. P.S- I love black people, there is nothing wrong with them. What is wrong is my race being racist. Smh

    April 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      there's racism on both sides. I hate black racism as much as white.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tiara grim

    thats all it comes down to zimmerman was told to stop pursuit and he didn't...so he should pay ....as if it was vice versa ...no one is eliminated not even white america or any other racist people...you all are so blind ....and so sad. people die every day from senseless crime and it needs to stop.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lonny Bush

    god nancy grace uuuuu suck!!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
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