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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    If this goes to trial a jury will decide if Zimmerman acted in self defense or not. None of us know all the facts but we all want to convict or free a man based on half stories. He was arrested and that is good enough for me. I believe he killed that kid but whatever the jury decides is okay by me (that is if it goes to trial). He could plead to manslaughter.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tiara

    maybe when things happen in the white community you all should banned together ,......you guys love when we kill each other but hate when we ban together ......sad you hate us period....chip on our should please.....you can highlight our crimes but what about when your people kill because a divorce is more costly than cold blood murder...what about when a white man is having an affair with his secretary so to keep his affair a secret he kills his whole family then says a break in happened, what about jeffery dahmer what about john wayne gacy what about ted bundy....every race has killers, blscks rob banks so did they italian mob, blacks sell drugs so do mexicans, so what race is better than the other

    April 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tommy from LA

    Hey Boyce,
    Shut the H*** up. You are part of the problem. You dumb ignorance ni**er.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TRUTH N BONES

    MITPhD
    From your words you have convicted. No open mind, no interest in discovery the facts ?

    Consider how the black race is being helped by Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson – only during possible big press – big racial incidents do these guys show up and instead of preaching tolerance and patience (like the great MLK) they organize violent marches, insight racial hatred for the “white man” rile up people that are already full of tension and ready to burst, they plant the seed of prejudice.

    All the while and get $$ and airtime from the same news organizations that are guilty of creating the racial issue !

    If everyone would STOP, LEARN, LISTEN, HOLD JUDGEMENT, OBTAIN FACTS and practice tolerance these radical racial bottom feeders would go away. All races are a level playing field as of today – Where you a slave yesterday? No, you are free today, Yes, As am I and millions of others that must learn to coexist.

    The predisposition that these two charlatans have and teach is “that some other MAN is trying to keep you down” white, Hispanic, Indian, jew, etc… its not true – Your life is what you make of it, working hard, learning and contributing to society, This is what will over-come the prejudice these people plant inside people like you and I.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      TRUTH N BONES – Appreciate your response, but I disagree. From the beginning of this I have called for a trial where all the evidence can come out. See my other posts – I know and accept that our criminal justice system may not convict every guilty person – but that is OK. If we live in this society we need to accept the jury's decision. What I objected to was that there was certainly enough evidence for probably cause, but no arrest was made. Having lived in the south 10 years – I can understand why the community (and it was not just black people) had to march, etc. to make sure this case was thoroughly and correctly investigated. Reality, is people with money and connections frequently wield that power to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tiara

    and we do not have a problem being called black people however society calls us african american because the first blacks were from africa......

    April 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoJustice

      Never had understood why color was ever important in any discussion, now I know after reading some of the hate mongering comments from some sick, ignorante asses on here. Black is Black, White is White, and who cares....
      Only when it comes to something like this. Justice wasn't done for sure but isn't that what many of the militant hatemongers want....

      Sigh. End of times, come quick.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MITPhD

    For those people that claim there is no racism in America, just read the comments here. Some are so blatantly racist I cannot help but wonder if the poster is a troll just trying to stir up trouble. Please do not spew your racism here. It does not help your cause. See if you can possible come up with some real facts and logic that might help you defend your defence of Zimmerman. I will start you out. America's criminal justice system is based on the premise it is better to let 10 guilty people go than to mistakenly convict 1 innocent person. The evidence may not be enough to find Zimmerman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And everyone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Like the OJ case, may not get a criminal conviction – the Martin family may have to settle for lesser justice in a civil court.
    OK – try running with that instead of parading your naked racism that nobody wants to see.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • randy

      thank god. it was clear the guy was just trigger happy. he should be jailed for life.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sick of CNN allowing threads like this garbage

      Well said MITTPhD. Thanks.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karoline Lampert

      The only thing 98% of all the comments on here show me, is that there are just as many black idiots as there are white ones.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sick of CNN allowing threads like this garbage

    Why does CNN allow this "freedom of speech"? This "blog" is full of hate and ignorance. There is nothing "lively and courteous" in the so called "discussion". What a mess our media has become. CNN, you make me sick. Why allow this crap? Why?

    April 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason Speaks

      How dare people express thoughts that are not Politically Correct!

      April 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • 46323

      New to the boards, are you?

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

    I am reading all these stupid quotes by simple minded people. No I don't like that Sharpton and Jackson had to get involved but what if they didn't. If someone shot you wife, mother, daughter, or etc and no arrest would be made you'd be furious. It's funny how people say stuff online but I wonder if you'd have the balls to go up to someone of a different race and say it to their face.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. john

    this is not justice, george zimmerman did wat he did inorder to protect his life, i would do the same thing if trayvon attacked me, matter of fact i would shoot trayvon in the head many times, i support u george zimmerman

    April 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      I pray that you are shot in the head soon...

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

      self defense was not proven. zimmerman is mentally insane

      April 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      John – one problem with your comment is that there is NO proof that Travyon attacked Zimmerman. Even once all the evidence comes out (like from autopsy) I doubt there will be a "smoking gun" one way or another. My guess (and only a guess) is that there is evidence that contradicts the statement Zimmerman made, which is why there is an indictment.
      So – if you want to say that if someone attacked you would defend yourself – fine. That is your right. And if you want to say it is your opinion that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman – then fine. And if you even want to enumerate the evidence and logic you use to come to that conclusion. Great, Then we can all see if you convince us. But please make clear opinion or conjecture is different than facts.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. marteeni

    Since blacks so loved the O. J. jurors and their decision, let's dust off the O. J. jurors, let them deliberate the same amount of time and render the same verdict.
    Or how about using the Casey Anthony jurors?

    April 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      GUILTY PEOPLE = NOT GUILTY VERDICTS
      NOT GUILTY PEOPLE = GUILTY VERDICTS

      April 11, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Michael

    There is a movie from years back called "Twelve Angry Men". I suggest each person on this blog look at look at that movie. No one Knows what happen. I sure have no idea what happened. But let Justice play this out. People have already made to many assumptions about this Tragic event. Elite Media such as CNN,Fox, NBC, CBS Make their Living by expressing their Sensationalism . Reporters Live for this It either breaks them or makes them. Ask Dan Rather.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      Excellent movie.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PPD

    It's just too bad that this has already been tried in the media and congress and neither have the facts in the case....they make them up no wya will he get a fair trial now. And the prosecutor stated that the puplic isn't what guides the case....give me a break....there were only two there that night and one story now but of course so many have made up their own version since then....fools!

    April 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Name*truthman53

    OK, now Mr Al Sharpton what are we going to do about the Black Panthers? They have broke the law by putting a bounty on a civilians head .

    April 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      Don't hold your breath on that either....Bet there is no investigation into that.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mark

    Bottom line, it's ok to stand your ground, so long the perpetrator isn't black. We also discover how easy the state of Florida caves under the racial tensions caused by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. If the state wants to do justice they should address the people causing racial tension and the groups (New Black Panthers and White Supremacy Groups) threatening it with force. Unfortunately, today Angela Corey has demonstrated that she has no back bone for true justice and her pathetic career shall end much like Judge Ito's who's moral compass was influenced and corrupted by the media. Congratulations Florida, you have now set this country back an entire decade of more racial turmoil.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      Yea you were there weren't you idiot. You speak as if you were an eye witness. STFU

      April 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. fn oh

    This is reverse racism...

    April 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
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