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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    everyone says zimmerman rightfully defended himself well i wish you all felt the same when crosses were burned in our yards and you killed our innocent men like emit till for crimes he never committed...you all scream that black people are the worst yet you hung us from trees you drugged ours bodies on the trailors of trucks, and to be honest is st charles mo, most welfare recepients are white ....sad to say not all blacks are on welfare...and you will need that welfare when your old and your kids forget about you and hole you up in a nursing home

    April 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian wright

      amen

      April 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arlene

      Tiara, I am white and don't have a prejudiced bone in my body, except for uneducated white trash, and I hate people in gangs. You cannot let the comments from Internet Klan people get to you. They are just chickens hiding behind a screen.
      I know just how crazy the so called rent a cops are. I was harassed by one a while back that scared me to death in front of other people. As Bill Cosby said, "It's about the gun. Zimmerman strapped on that gun and it made him feel like a man. Don't let the comments from the underbelly of society get to you.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pumpernickel

    Go Zimmerman, your going to beat this!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arlene

      If Zimmerman beats this, please have him come to your house and live with you. However if he gets his hands on a gun........you are in deep you know what.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Moonbeam

    Martin may well have thought Zimmerman was a Hispanic gang member trying to attack him. If one doesn't live in an area where strife between Latinos and Blacks is common, one might not realize that. If a Black man had provoked such a fight with a white man and then shot him because he was losing the fight, the Black man would probably have been arrested immediately (and certainly not allowed to go home with his gun and clothing - it would have been confiscated for forensic analysis).

    April 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pumpernickel

    Martin is worm food by now!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steven 82 in Chicago

    Ignorance surrounds us!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sinjen

    i hope he was charged because of the facts surrounding the case, not the al sharpton media campaign. i hope he gets a fair trial, since everyone in america and severel other contries has heard about it.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Ball

      I thought Sharpton only got involved when there was clear racial injustice the was beyond doubt. Oh wait, there was that Duke lacrosse thing, and then that other thing .....

      I can't believe any African American – or any American of any color – would want the self-promoting clowns Sharpton and J. Jackson anywhere near them. Much more harm than good and their motives should be pretty clear to everyone.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • hopemac

      Ms Corey- you "prosecute on the facts of the case" and the facts of this case are that you told Trayvon Martin's parents that you could not guarantee a conviction but you would do everything you could and then asked them what would make this right. They said they did not want a conviction, just an arrest. This came from the same people who in the depths of grief stopped to patent their son's name. Now they just want an arrest in a state that requires an arrest in a criminal case in order to have the right to sue. Ms Corey, this is not about justice. It is about money. Money won't bring this young man back. The arrest should have been predicated on the parents being barred from suing in the event that there is no conviction. So that if Mr Zimmerman wins and is found innocent, he does not loses because of a prolonged lawsuit. Or maybe, as a part of making it fair, every ounce of information about Trayvon's character and behavior both on and off line and at school should be made available to the defense. Or better yet, let the FBI investigate both individuals so that there can be an even playing field. If you truly want justice, you do not represent the family; you represent the State. And therefore, as such, you need to acquire the truth about both individuals. Make this about justice, period. So if it is about justice, you need to be impartial and get the truth about both individuals and put that truth out there for the person or persons who will ultimately judge. If you represent the State, you represent truth.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brian wright

    I understand racism is on both sidesand its ugly ass hell but i was talking about this message board. all you see are racist white people posting racist bullchit.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are racist. They portray any crime against a black person as a hate crime. And now the spineless special prosecuter has overlooked the facts of the case and is bending to the voices of the vocal minority. She deserves to be fired!

      April 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Brian, we're not all white people posting racist bull.

      Tim, why would you possibly consider a prosecutor spineless for prosecuting this case? Do you feel there are no unanswered questions that can withstand a cross-examination in this case? You're just as ignorant of the facts as we all are, and I can honestly say I am wholly ignorant of what actually happened. I am in no place to decide whether Zimmerman is a hero or a miscreant, how is it that you are so sure?

      April 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Boyd Cartwright

    http://rightwingnews.com/crime/the-fake-trayvon-martin-flipping-the-bird-pic-vs-the-real-trayvon-martin-flipping-the-bird-pic/

    April 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. udub

    White people are scared. For good reasons.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyd Cartwright

      scared enough to shoot first then ask ques.. so cmon over...

      April 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • udub

      You hiding behind your computer. Scary.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      Boyd is your typical racist white coward.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • udub

      Agreed

      April 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      Yeah....scared that we are being blamed for something that happened 400 years ago, scared that we are the ones being disriminated against now, scared that the "New Black Panthers" can do whatever that want to, scared that the U.S. will go bankrupt supporting deadbeats with welfare, scared that police officers can't stop a black male for a crime that was clearly committed without being labled as a racist, scared because white people have no one that will stand up for OUR rights and if they do they are labeled as a Racist. And I could keep on and on. STOP PLAYING THE RACE CARD!!! IT IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OLD!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Matthew, if the US goes bankrupt, it will be because of military spending, not social-spending... Talking about how hard-done-by the white majority is by the political activation of minority-groups is just as old as the "race card" you're talking about. Why isn't anyone actually researching before making their comments?

      April 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy from LA

      I'm not. Just you watch out.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy from LA

      To UDUMB – I'm not scared. Maybe you just better watch out.........

      April 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Adam

    African Americans need to change their demeanor if they want profiling to stop. It is what it is!

    April 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      Yeah we need to stop covering our heads with hoods to block the rain. We also need to stop walking through our own neighborhood hoods with tea and skittles. All racist garbage like you need to die slow of cancer. It is what it is.....

      April 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy from LA

      The official term is "black" people. I go by "white" people and not European American.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lonny Bush

    FIRE NANCY GRACE!! please

    April 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. res65

    if the jury is hung or a not guilty verdict comes down, get ready for the new torching of america.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. udub

    Whites need to change their demeanor so they font come off ad sneaky hateful and scared.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Good

    I had a dog named trayvon onence.

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

    Now that justice has reached its peak
    Will a guilty verdict be served – Or is Corey’s case weak?
    But first it’s “Stand Your Ground” Zimmerman will take the stand
    And that decision in the end would be in ONE Judge’s hand

    Okay, so we get pass that and the Judge in the end says “hell no
    Mr. Zimmerman you must come up with another way to go”
    So now he will state – “then I must go with self-defense”
    But that would be in front of 12 jurors and make more sense

    Whatever the outcome, please – No violence, Keep it real
    Just put all of your energy together – “Stand Your Ground” should be repealed!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
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