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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    @ Jamie stupid A$$ .......

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. youpeoplearecrazy

    There had to be charges. You can't just kill a kid, that you followed and provoked... and just walk away. That would be insane.

    Such obvious racism here it's sad.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • RF Burns

      And you know this to be true how?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scrappyike

      Exactly! Zimmerman's 'self-defense' plea went out the window when he disregarded police advice NOT to follow Martin. I can't see anybody attack an individual that followed from a distance. Zimmerman had to have confronted Martin in some way. Had Zimmerman not approached Martin, there would not have been a murder.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. its true dude

    if Zimmeran didn't "profile" we wouldnt have gotten rid of this thug! SEE IMAGE IN LINK! KID HAS A GRILL!
    http://www.google.com/imgres?q=trayvon+martin&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1280&bih=702&tbm=isch&tbnid=reIfGbhTT79EFM:&imgrefurl=http://dailycaller.com/2012/03/26/the-daily-caller-obtains-trayvon-martins-tweets/&docid=ivd4G7VMwqCEAM&imgurl=http://cdn2.dailycaller.com/2012/03/pasc-tr1yv4n-r2tr1ct34n-2d3t2d.jpg&w=599&h=450&ei=_tGFT9mcCO3JiQKduIT2BA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=188&vpy=53&dur=3839&hovh=195&hovw=259&tx=121&ty=126&sig=108374161675969102801&page=2&tbnh=146&tbnw=194&start=16&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:15,s:16,i:154

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • RF Burns

      While the Martin kid was not exactly Walley Cleaver, I would not classify him as a "thug". Wise up.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuckus

      So having a grill makes him a thug? I can see you're very closed minded the way you wrot in caps that he has a grill, like that gave away that he was a thug.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lash

    Wow , CNN you jumped the gun on reporting this story.. This story is irresponsible on your part. The journalist stated anonymos official stated this. That official has to be identified to validate this.. Shame on you for bad reporting.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil

    Yes!!!! There is Racism involved.... Why is it the Black community (and the writer of this article) is just assuming the black kid that got shot was the victim??? I do hope there is a thorough investigation into this event. I just hope Zimmerman doesn't get lynched by public who doesn't know the full story. They don't want justice. They want what they perceive as justice. If Zimmerman did it, I hope he is prosecuted fully and if the evidence shows Zimmerman was attacked and acting in self-defense then so be it. Let's just not take statements made by biased people that weren't there as fact. People need to be patient and let the system do its job.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Manjari

      No one is assuming anything based on race (except possibly you racist idiots). Someone was pursued and killed. That is not in dispute.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • RF Burns

      Exactly. I am hoping the real truth is revealed. No matter what it is.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Phil , you are a hypocrite. You talk about bias while displaying bias.Martin was the victim because he is the one dead. He was a minor who was unarmed. That also makes him the victim. The fact that Martin may have fought an adult stranger who had been following him, does not make him the first aggressor.Bottom line, when you are an adult you are held accountable to adult decisions. You cant place the blame on an unarmed minor. If Zimmerman was mature and had used wisdom, he would have stayed in his vehicle and allowed the police to handle the matter. It is a fact that Martin was not committing a crime, so it all boils down to Zimmerman's Lack of good judgement that he continues to display.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Manjari

    The racist people commenting here are just bad people. You are pure evil.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    This country isn't run by law. It's run by fools. He will be acquitted.

    They have to calm the herd somehow. Black people murder white people at 7X the rate of white on black murder. For black people only being 12.6% of the population of people. They cause most of the crime. So mathematically black people are to be questioned and feared. This self defense might have been justified. But at least Zimmerman wasn't out robbing and raping then murdering someone. He was trying to help a community.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Where are all the stories daily of black people murdering people? They murder at 7x the rate of white people. ?? Notice the news stories will always be like a man was killed today in a drive by shooting but they won't say it was black people shooting. But then the names come out of the people caught and you can tell. It's reverse racism in this country anymore. Jobs and media are against white people anymore because it's not politically correct to go after the people that cause most crime like the black people do because they are here from slavery from hundreds of years ago. We are all slaves to work and live and have a life. There are slave owners in Africa today. By the way the owners are black. Go protest that one. You won't hear a word.

      They have to calm the herd somehow. Black people murder white people at 7X the rate of white on black murder. For black people only being 12.6% of the population of people. They cause most of the crime. So mathematically black people are to be questioned and feared. This self defense might have been justified. But at least Zimmerman wasn't out robbing and raping then murdering someone. He was trying to help a community.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      You are factually incorrect.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick©™

      Zimmerman is a trigger happy paranoid lunatic as proven by his 46 false alarm 911 calls. Some 911 dispatcher were already familiar with this clown and roll their eyes everytime Zimmerman calls. If he was telling the truth and he got jumped and taken down by a boy 110 pound lighter, then he's very incompetent and poorly qualified to be neighborhood watch patrol. He shoudn't even be carrying a gun.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Youthful Citizen

    At the end of the day.... an UN-ARMED young life was snuffed out by a GROWN MAN. Last time I checked Trayvon was not charged with any crime. No one on here can honestly say he did ANYTHING wrong. The fact it is taking so long just to arrest this killer is appalling.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. steven

    maybe now justice will be served...and those who say that hey are not racist will crawl out of the wood work and revea.l themselves

    April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Calcommuter

    If true it's no surprise. If he's not charged, the city council would get threats, the police would be harassed and we would have to hear more of the "No justice, no peace" chanting. There has already been vandalism to police cars.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ian

    Hey CNN, why don't you get your $#!t together and figure out what is actually happening rather than trying to give us the story in real time. The first update I see to "Zimmerman to be charged" is "Charges have not yet been filed." Get it together.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wns

    if Zimmerman is charged the latinos should riot, the nbp should be charged for putting a bounty on him and the main stream media should be charged with inciting riots and civil unrest. why is there no outcry for all the whites that die at the hands of blacks every day? Let Zimmerman be!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      You really should pay attention to the news a little more... WORLD NEWS buddy. Blacks killing whites ? tell me when a black has been known to kill someone white without being charged for it ?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Adam

    The angry liberal mob wins.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    Glad y'all back in America are going so nuts over this. Any death is a tragedy, but why don't y'all leave this one up to the pros in court and worry about some other stuff?

    Sincerely,

    All of us still sitting in Afghanistan

    April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      You volunteered for it. This war has been going on for 10 years, but life goes on as usual for people all around the world. It may sound insensitive, for some people have more urgent worries that affect them on a daily basis such as a job, or food to eat. As far as the pros....If the pros had handled the matter the way they were supposed to, this story would not be overshadowing the misery you are going through in Afghanistan.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Andrew, appreciate your service and that is commendable but your comments stink. You serve for justice for ALL americans and until someone is charged with a crime, just is missing in this case. Without the marching and protesting there would be no charges for a 17 year old young man dying when he didn't have to.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Do you realize that there are hundreds if not thousands of people that are killed in the states every single day, and there is not always someone immediately arrested? Where is your bleeding heart for all of them? You really honestly believe that millions of people speculating their own opinions will bring about any justice? You honestly believe that newscasters and pundits making their own accusations as to why something happened somehow makes it truth? There hasn't even been a trial. You're all just speculating and issuing guilt in one direction or another based upon sketchy news reporting. It's absurd.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Brian you are right, the marching and the protesting probably did bring on the charges. However if that is the reason it is wrong. The reason should be evidence. If there is evidence to support charging Zimmerman then charge him if there is not then he should be freed. Even if he is freed he will never have a normal life again. The New Black Panthers have already put a bounty on his head and I'm sure that he has recieved numerous death threats. I serve over here with Andrew and we do it to provide the freedom that you live under. I think that Andrew is right. The US Court system is there for a reason and we need to let it do its job and not automatically assume he is guilty. Remember everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Also, "people have more urgent worries"? I'm sorry for your loss. I didn't realize that you either A) knew Mr. Martin or B) are very worried that Mr. Zimmerman might "come and get you too!" If neither of those is the case.... you really shouldn't let your life be so affected by this. You should worry more about your cholesterol or drunk drivers.

      Furthermore, how do my comments stink? Because they are based upon logic and reasoning? Because I'm holding a system that was set in place to deal justice in our country accountable to make the right call? I guess you're right, stinky, stinky comments. But no totally, I'm sure that you demanding blood for blood will totally make a difference in the case. Keep up the good fight brother!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John Q Public

    Will the prosecutor get the Black Panther bounty or does he have to be dead before they pay out?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
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