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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    I'm a white 77 yrs old male, I like people, white black or poky dot I often wonder if there are two heaven a black & a white. There are good & bad people, no matter what the color of their skin. I see a lot of people going to church on Sunday morning preaching & praying, and they call themselves Christians, but they would screw a black person at night & hang them in day time, at the drop of a hat. Now back to Zimmerman & Martin, this is what happens when a stupid law is pass, allowing people to walk around the neighborhood with a loaded weapon, and if you feel threaten shot. There are way too many people walking around wanting to be " Dirty Harry" this is a very dangerous situation. We look out for each other in my neighbor hood, but you can bet your sweet a– if I see a person breaking in my neighbor's house, I will call the law,that is why we have a police dept.

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

      Well said Vance. I grew up in rural area. People had guns in their homes. People hunted with guns. But everybody I knew understood duty to retreat if you can do so safely. Everybody I knew did not even question that a human life infinitely more important than property. Seems like these are some of the same pro-life people, but they want the right to shoot someone just because they are afraid. I have read Florida's SYG law and it is a bad law in my opinion. Already have self defense you can use as a "defense" in court. SYG gives the person immunity from both criminal and civil action. This is not right.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason Speaks

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.
    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      White male demanding equality for his race = RACIST
      Black male demanding equality for his race = REVEREND

      April 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave From Philly

    Twelve Angry Men was a good movie both the original and the remake. However, we have already made up our minds about this case and very few of us are willing to hear or read ALL THE FACTS. And even fewer would be willing to listen as the DA or defense Atty. put them together for us.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      Let's hope they can find 12 people (and alternates) who can impartially listen to the evidence and the instructions from the judge. That is the American way!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pull the other one now

    Mrs. Martin, stop invoking Jesus name for sensationalism! If you were really a Christian, you would tell the Black Panthers to take off their $10,000 bounty on the head of George Zimmerman. If you were any kind of a mother, your son would be alive right now, and Zimmerman would probably be watching TV.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      If your mom was anyother kind of mother, you would not have ended up a racist coward POS.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave From Philly

    Yes blame the recently deceased or his mother for the Panthers.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tommy from LA

    Zimmerman should have never been arrested. This is all stemming from the Obama's administration. The prosecutor was under pressure to do something and that something was to charge him. I tell you what – if he is found guilty, there will be more hatred than ever before towards black people in ALL walks of life. Just look what happen in the Tulsa shootings.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capt America

      Blah Blah Blah Mr. Prosecutor. Do you know how ignorant you sound blaming this on the president? Grow the "F" up.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Piya

      You sound really stupid Tommy,why don't you go back to school,get educated and then come back on here with some sense.Keep your silly comments to yourself,somebody has lost a child,If Zimmerman is convicted,his family will see him again behind bars.While Trayvon's family will only have a grave to focus on.But,if its the Florida laws they let murderers walk free.

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

      Hey Captain Dumba**,
      It has alot of connections from the Obama Administration. Zimmerman is innocent. If I was a black person (thank god I am not) I would be scared for the rest of my life if there is a guilty verdict in this case. Black people go to h***.

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

      I wonder if Trayvon would have grown up to beat on his girlfriend or get into altercations with the police. Maybe he would have killed his parents for the insurance money. Or maybe he would build a few meth labs or become a ketamine dealer. He probably would be the majority criminal when it comes to hate crimes. Because we know only black people do that stuff.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lily

    Why anchors in CNN, such as Nancy Grace and Anderson keep bringing that pathetic figure Mr. Taffy to their programs? He was not present, he talks nonsense and he think he has the absolute truth. He is arrogant and ignorant. Please, stop before the shows loose credibility

    April 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bubba

    The nigs will be quiet now for a while. Thank you Jesus.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yung Remmy

      Look whiteboy ur obviously a coward just Kill urself

      April 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      White boy? R u one of those racist militant nigs?

      April 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anne

    I would like to say that Angela Cory is fake!!! I would like to know when someone else is killed if their family is going to get the same treatment??? I know are family was not treated the way the Martin family has been treated. We lost are family member to her boyfriend by beating her with a hammer and a knife and no one said to us if he doesn't get convicted what can we do for your family. This family got special treatment and Angela Cory had to come down with some kind of charge. If she didn't her political career would be over!!

    April 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      You sound like the one that got hammered idiot.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      The word is "our."

      April 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tiara

    last year a black man was charged with a white cops death...obama didnt stop that so tommy from la stop making stupid comments ...the evidence is in and it shows zimmerman must be tried whether it is for manslaughter or 2nd degree....and people are so quick to say because trayvon brought drugs to school that his parents were bad....well we all know kids will do what we tell them not to ....and there you have it but ...what does that have to do with feb 26

    April 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      Well said tiara. Anyone that thinks your kids do everything you tell them must not have teenage children.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ojay Vielot

      You just said it " a black man was charged..." but in the case of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman was NOT charged.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janette

      Because whether you like the law or not..he did not break it..Black is not a minority anymore..some just hide behind it. You have a right to defend yourself regardless of color of skin. Don't like it change the law for future incidence.

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

      Because whether you like the law or not..he did not break it..Black is not a minority anymore..some just hide behind it. You have a right to defend yourself regardless of color of skin. Don't like it change the law for future incidence.
      Cnn you have said enough

      April 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy from LA

      Tiara – obviously you don't read the news – Obama sent the FBI and influence in this case after Zimmerman was not charged. So you need to shut up and listen to the facts in this matter. The prosecutor was under alot of pressure to charge this man....and look what happen. And if you jumped me, your fate would be the same (I don't care if your black or white). I support Mr Zimmerman in this case. The black kid got what he deserved. I don't see justice in American anymore. Black people are a bunch of babies and deserve whatever they get. And since we're on this topic, the black panthers and NCAAP are racists. Be scared if a guilty verdict comes in.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Boyce

    Let me just say that I am black. I drank wine in jr. High school once ir twice. My parents would have killed me if they knew. My dad owned a successful construction company in SC. I now own a successful lumber company. Kids will be kids as teens. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. miles

    It's a shame that the Sanford community that George Zimmerman is protecting is not even standing behind him. Now who wants to volunteer as a watchman? Who's going to protect our communities if everybody's afraid to go against the politics of the black community?

    April 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      Lol, you are a true idiot.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      And that's just what they want so they can rob without a care of being confronted.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      Miles – If Zimmeramn had followed police guidance to people doing neighborhood watch, then none of this would have happened. Guidance specifically says (1) do NOT carry a gun while on watch and (2) observe and report – do not pursue. Zimmerman knew police were on the way (listen to the tape of his 911 call). If he had followed the police guidance for neighborhood watch he would have stayed in his vehicle and waited for the police to arrive. SO – in answer to your question – I am sure there will be plenty of people that are willing to be neighborhood watch IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE POLICE GUIDANCE! And many fewer (hopefully none) that are self-appointed want-to-be cops and vigilantes. And that will be a good thing.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Maybe if these legal positions were appointed and not elected, these charges of political manuevering wouldn't be so common?

      The question that still needs to be definitively answered, Miles, is was George Zimmerman acting in the protection of his community, or was he acting in a way reminiscent of a vigilante? None of us know the answer to this, hence none of us should be proffering one.

      Perhaps the community should be offering their support; maybe they aren't out of cowardice, but maybe they are out of other reasons as well. Courts partly exist to alleviate the social desire for mob-justice; if any case should go before a judge, it's one like this.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Piya

    I'm just wondering, what would have happened if Trayvon would have over powered Zimmerman, taken his gun away from him and shot and killed Zimmerman.How would that have played out.?You already know, how that would have played out.Trayvon would have been arrested for muder in the first degree.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      And sentenced to death by an all white jury. lol. 🙂

      April 11, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jennifer

    I do not understand why the media only shows pictures of trayvon from when he was young. I feel that we are only being told and shown what they want to show us and tell us. If Zimmerman is guilty then he should have to be punished but I am not sure that trayvon was the person they are trying to convince us that he was......why will the media not reveal more up to date pictures. Also, Zimmerman is by all rights a minority as well however all of a sudden there is a term of "white Hispanic" in the news.....is that not reverse racism?

    April 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janette

      Because CNN is being bought by the NAACP. Not the facts and laws on the books..

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

      I hear he was 6'3" near 200 lbs, gold teeth and dreds. You know, typical lawbiding guy

      April 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. miles

    I think the outcome of this event would have been different if Trayvon Martin knows how to respect authorities. If his parents taught him to do the right thing, he would still be alive today! You don't fight with law enforcement officers, you respect them ! I wish they would show his most recent picture so we know how big he is. He might be bigger than Zimmerman that's why he was arrogant enough to go against him !

    April 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      Yup . They make it seem like he shot a 12yr old that wad 4ft tall.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      Miles – the flaw in your argument is that Zimmerman was NOT a law enforcement officer. He was a civilian with ABSOLUTELY no right to confront Trayvon. This is why police guidance to neighborhood watch is to (1) not carry a gun and (2) to ONLY observe and report – NEVER pursue. If Zimmerman had been a good neighborhood watch person he would have followed the police guidelines for neighborhood watch and NONE of this would have happened.
      And I guess Trayvon should not be allowed to walk to the store and buy skittles and to wear a hoodie to keep the rain off his head according to you – is that correct? Very disrespectful.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      When did he fight with a law-enforcement authority? Zimmerman, at the end of the day, was just a guy with a gun. How would you have reacted if some guy with a gun was following you in his car? Zimmerman may have had the best of intentions but it's unfair to say, what "x" should have done is "y"...

      Probably the best explanation is that both sides misunderstood the other's intentions. It is difficult enough to get a soldier to shoot at another man; (although it's possible) it's unlikely that Zimmerman intended to kill an unarmed man. Both sides probably panicked, with terrible consequences...

      April 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
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