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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Its a shame how long it took for this man to get arrested ... and unsettling that he would be free today if it were not for the media ... for once the media did something right ... better late than never ...

    April 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      He wasn't charge because there was no probable cause to charge a crime that did not exist. It was self defense during neighborhood watch. That's why and only because Odumba speech on that could have. Web my son BS AND FEDERAL FORCING MUNICIPAL TO FE A CHARGE TO PREVENT A RIOT BS

      April 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    Its a shame that zimmerman is being prosecuted and the facts about the gang banger is being polished to appear to be an innocent teen victim. He was fan banging in thug drug dealer. What do you idiots think he was doing I. The neighborhood that night selling girl scout cookies? Zimmerman is getting screwed!!!! For what, votes?

    April 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Defeat Ignorance

      Real thugs don't pay for their skittles. Dummies...

      April 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Zimmerman isn't getting screwed yet. Hopefully they will put him in PT (some protective custody) or in segregation. LOL!

      April 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • nibiro

      Dude your crazy!

      April 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbell06

      U cant be that dumb...

      April 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • haq

      Bull doo doo is right he could have been waiting to force someone to eat skittles and drink iced tea to death. It was Zimmermans duty to stop this. What ! skittles and iced tea, he's must be up to no good! Let me chamber a round before I ask this murdering looking person "what you doing here".

      April 12, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • nicesty

      WOW!! Did not know you were so afraid of blacks!! Ignorance loves company and I will bet you won't ever be alone. How horrible to live in your world and mind. Your life is sad so so sad my brother.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bubba

    You can see the mountain top. But you can't get to it, its taken already, by white people.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbell06

      Sure for how long??? Until your majority withers away and this Nation will truly be diverse and reach its full potential.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lisa

    I am so sick and tired of so many people defending Zimmerman, this is definitely the right charge for the crime, anytime a stranger approaches a person he/she has the right to defend THEMSELVES!!! Zimmerman provoked the entire situation by persuing Trayvon when he was instructed not to persue him, but he went against the order, so therefore this is not a case of stand your ground defense, but self defense on behalf of Trayvon who lost his life to a vigilante, someone who took the law into his own hand....This is certainly not a case about race, but a case about JUSTICE FOR ALL MANKIND!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jerime

    come in my neighbor hood looking like a thug im going to ask you what your doing there if u run then your up to no good and i will chace you done to make sure you belong there

    April 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      Great you and Zimmerman can be cell mates.

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

      I would come to your neighborhood looking like a thug on purpose and if you asked me "What you're doing here?"
      I would tell you i came to help you with your english.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Dude, you spell like a 1st grader, you are one dumb POS!!!

      April 12, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. cck99352

    Politics, not justice.

    Using pictures of Trayvonn from the sixth grade is a nice touch by the media. Nobody mentions he was 6-3, or his brushes with the law.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      IWhat an idiot . 6' 3" or 4' 2" does it matter. Trevon is still just a kid. What this freak did was wrong.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbell06

      Or Zimmermans Brushes with the law. Typically when u assault a police officer
      u get charged and u are not eligible for a gun license.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • SaraCali

      They were mentioned otherwise how did you hear about them?

      They are however irrelevant to this case. Why? because Martin being 6'3" and only 150 pounds is not grounds to use a gun esp. as Zimmerman was also a big guy.

      What is relevant to this case is that an unarmed kid cried for his life lying on the grass on top of his own hands. That kid was shot dead by Zimmerman.

      Now that he is charged he will have his day in court. He said it was self defense so let him prove it in court.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • FlotsamJetsam

      the photos are not relevant, obviously Trayvon was older when he was murdered by Zimmerman. Is this what you have to complain about? Some poor unarmed kid is murdered and you think its a matter of fairness over a picture? Screwed up priorities.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      yeah, I guess the media left out the fact that martin had grown to 6'3", supposedly had gold teeth and dreds. Nothing like the pics we have been given. Where was Zimmermans youth pics? Should have shown both of them using baby pictures to be fair I guess

      April 12, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Typical

      Oh stop. Nobody ever established who was crying for help. Several witnesses said it was Zimmerman. And they also said that "crying kid" was busy beating Zimmermans head against the pavement, not begging for his life. You said give him his chance to prove his innocence, but all you hypocrites have already formed your opinions based on hearsay. If he's guilty, fine. But if he's not guilty, you will all be out marching and rioting because your minds are made up by the media and the NAACP. 17, 50, 100, armed or unarmed...you can still pose a threat to someones life? And it's possible that young Trayvon did just that. Maybe, maybe not. I for one WAS NOT THERE. So my opinion will be decided only by the facts as they come to light in court, not by what Wolf Blitzer says. Lord knows he caused enough damage with his racial slur theory he later retracted.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • don smith

      The pendulum has swung the other way and now zimmerman has been lynched by the media. Suddenly he is charged and every one is siding with the anti zimmerman campaign. The pont from the facts so far is zimmerman was having his head banged against the ground and there was a fight. This suggests that there was an element of self defence. Perhaps a charge of excessive force would have been a better charge as there APPEARS TO BE NO PREMEDITATION. COULD THE OTHER PARTY HAVE RUN AWAY INSTEAD OF FIGHTING SEEM TO WARRANT A CHARGE OF MANSLAUGHTER BUT THE WORST CHARGE HAS BEEN PUT . IT APPEARS THAT JUSTICE IN THIS CASE IS NOT THE BLIND WOMAN WE SEE ON THE SCALES OF JUSTICE

      April 12, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. jazz648

    Bull Reverse Discrimination: You are dumber than a sack of rocks. It's so laughable that you're making up so-called facts to justify your sick racism. Add some water to that juice you're stewing in.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      Jazzy jazzy Jeff. Did Obama donate money for your bs logic?im not a racist and there was no criminal intent. Trays on was a thug and menace to society, a gang banger that's a fact. Federal jurisdiction over powered municipal on a presidenti order to screw Zimmerman that's a List of the facts!

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

      jazz648 – Well said. I am on hear trying to make intellegent replies to some of the horrible illogic and outright racism being posted. That said, when I look at Bull Reverse Discrimination's posts there's just no valid point to start at. It is all utter nonsense without any facts. This guy is either a troll just trying to stir up problems or delusional. But trolls usually make more sense than he does.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bsbsbs

      Talking about intelligence? It is 'here'. Not 'hear'. Yes, they sound the same but have different meanings, and spellings.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. jazz648

    cck99352: No one mentions because they aren't relevant. Neither are you.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      azz648. Go commit a crime against a white person and no worries, you won't be charged or make the news at least until November.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joel

    TOKEN

    April 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Em in Oz

    About time he was arrested. Now for a trial so evidence can be tested and Mr Zimmerman's past history of violence can be outed.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      no criminal intent or crime, that's why not charged ; until presidenti order over powered municipal law department with federal jurisdiction and selective enforcement to prosecute on Presidents directive

      April 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. themommypsychologist

    I'm so glad to finally see this! Besides the obvious justice for Trayvon and his parents, I think it's monumental for the young people who ignited this fire in the beginning. It so important for our young people to see that their efforts actually made a difference. Remember, that young people are the ones who used social media to make everyone pay attention. And it worked! I talk about how important it is for young people to believe they can change the world here:

    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/03/22/zimmermann-2012/

    April 11, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Maude

    All blacks should convert to Muslims.... these white freaks will never treat blacks as equals. Turn Muslim and jihad the Mother F*****ers

    April 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maude

    The modern day lynching is by the gun.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnson

    Some of you guys are so ridiculous. What if this was your child, your spouse, your mother or father? Ladies and gentlemen the fact is that a young man who was unarmed was killed that night. This case should have been investigated and if evidence showed that George Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense he should have been arrested. This is 2012 nd racial profiling must stop. If some of you believe one bit that this United States will still be successful without the other race you are completely retarded. African-Americans contributed to this country as much as the Caucasian race. For example individuals like Elijah McCoy, Lewis Latimer and Garrett Morgan. If the African-American race were to leave the United States today it would not be the same and to think that it would be safer would be stupid. Who is the leading race in child molestation, serial killers, mass shootings, and murder for hire's? I tell you not the black community. If the black community would stop spending the United States economy would be a disaster beyond belief. See we all need each other doesn't matter if you white or black. And to Bubba who said "The nigs will be quiet now for a while. Thank you Jesus." You are completely stupid. If you were to tell Jesus that you probably would have been sent to hell. We are all God's children no matter who, white or black. And if you think different you are completely disrespectful to God. And someone also referenced Tulsa shootings. If there was a race war we would all be in trouble. It would be an economic disaster.The government would shut down and be vulnerable. All we worked hard for would be gone. Let's start to look beyond the color of the skin and into people's hearts.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. To cck

    THANK YOU! Someone has finally noticed what I have all along. It's so great to put cute little pictures up of him when he was MUCH younger than 17. How do we know he didn't go all "gangsta" and seriously threaten Zimmerman?? He may have threatened him in a way that he felt that his life was in danger. No one is even acknowledging the fact that when he grew up he connected with the wrong types of people and became some badas* kid that was getting in trouble. He could have been in a gang.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Em in Oz

      You can assume anything you like about what happened. Now a trial will test the evidence and Mr Zimmerman's violent history and A type personality.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      I agree trayson was a gang banging drug dealer and attacked Zimmerman.

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

      Zimmerman followed him and killed him. Zimmerman was told by the 911 operator to stand down. What part of the this case you don't understand. Stop justifying and open you eyes to fair play or we are all doomed.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      Always choose tried by twelve vs carried by six. Martin was a gang banging drug dealer!

      April 12, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Yeah, To cck, he went all gangsta with his bag of Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea. That's probably exactly what happened. Why waste any more money on an investigation, we can invoke Occam's Razor instead, thanks to To cck.

      That was some fine detective work.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
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