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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    well good i hope this redneck gets what he deserves

    April 12, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Peter

    Why on earth that a guy like Goerge Zimmerman, who has a mug shot in Orange County jail in Florida in 2005, can have a gun and carry it around in a so called neighborhood watch???

    April 12, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. FlotsamJetsam

    after this get rid of the Stand Your Ground laws. NRA doesn't want public safety only to sell more guns! Makes no sense

    April 12, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. jazz648

    : It is appalling to read some of these blatantly statements. We've come so far as a society and have so far to go with regard to race. To many, the facts as we know them simply don't matter. I'm not a lawyer (I have a son who is an attorney) but my personal opinion is that Zimmerman was the provocateur. I don't believe he is a racist; I do believe, however, that h

    April 12, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. jazz648

    MITPhd: (continued) he (Zimmerman) racially "profiled" Trayvon.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ninja

    Some of you people are nucking futs. Seriously, prove to me that Trayvon was COMPLETELY innocent in all of this. If he was not doing anything or being anywhere that he shouldn't, then WHY did he end up in this confrontation ANYWAY?? I'm sorry, I just cannot believe that Zimmerman went out of his way to chase him down and shoot him.

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

      Then you are a fool.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Maude- I agree with you:-)

      April 12, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    Azz 648. No criminal intent. Martin attacked Zimmerman and he was shot in self defense. Have your son explain authorization of deadly force.....not a crime, but justified deadly force. That's why not charged until presidential order and federal jurisdiction o we powered a local municipal and county government.

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

      Both wrongful deed and Criminal intent is satisfied in this case. Zimmerman can't willfully follow people, dangerous or not, and put himself in harms way and then claim self defense. He was told to stand down. The courts, after trial, will find him guilty as charged unless some red neck judge releases him.

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

      April 12, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. FlotsamJetsam

    watch how quickly gun nuts will bail on Zimmerman using the Stand Your Ground law. They say the law is good it just doesn't apply to Zimmerman. they will throw him under the bus.........

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

      Lol...gun nuts. Gotta love it. Say, how are those strict gun laws working out for you anti gun folks in Detroit, Baltimore, New York, DC, Chicago, LA, and Philly? Safe places to live you say? Hmm, maybe some more gun restrictions can make them safer?

      April 12, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    Comments

    April 12, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jerime

    I HAVE HAD IT THE ZIMMERMAN RACIALLY FROFILED TRAYVON HE WAS DRESSED LIKE A THUG IN A HOODIE WITH HIS PANTS HANGING OFF HIS ASS WHAT ELE WOULD YOU THINK IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD WITH YOUR KIDS PLAYING OUTSIDE hello PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR LARG BUT NARROW BUTT

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

      Yes, hoodies are known to be dangerous weapons. Only well-armed men should risk approaching teenagers armed with hoodies...

      What teenager doesn't wear hoodies? They're kind of standard issue for all men 14 to 34. Wearing a hoodie is like getting dressed without having to decide what to wear – like yoga-pants for women... I'd be surprised to see a group of male teenagers without any hoodie-representation.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Ninja

      And what is sad is I can tell your race by your name and how you type...sooo could that be why you would leave a comment like that??

      I think yes.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • nkechi

      You need spelling lessons

      April 12, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      He needs to find the "caps lock" button again...

      April 12, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      What damn children? It was raining and at night...

      April 12, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Maude

    Believe in Allah and all will come true.

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

      Just go somewhere, nut job.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. tiara

    what is sad is that everyone decides to express their disgust with blacks...and were animals whites burned our families alive ..killed innocent kids etc...we have the voices that we didnt have 100 yrs ago to speak about justice the time we stand together you hate it yet you love when we kill each other ...his actions arent justified he was told to stop pursuit....he didnt so he got what he deserve...trayvon was unarmed he could have went fist for fist but he chose to shoot

    April 12, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Typical

      Yeah and Trayvon could have gone fist to fist too, but he went head to concrete. Stop making this a racial thing. It never was. I wonder what your opinion is on the 6 black men who beat and robbed a white tourist outside a Baltimore City courthouse in broad daylight the other day. Funny that the article isn't national and the city police commissioner said we shouldn't jump to conclusions about race bias before knowing the facts. And yet here we are with Trayvon. Funny how that works. Let's get something straight, I have black friends. I have never burned, beat, shot, or otherwise oppressed or lynched any black people. I couldn't give a crap what color your skin is, if you are a good person to be around, then let's go get lunch and hang out. I wasn't alive in the civil war, I didn't own slaves, etc...stop lumping all white people in as KKK members. That makes YOU the racist.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. tiara

    skaters show their asses ...so are they thugs??....no their skaters so stfu u idiot

    April 12, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      cant hide drugs for intent to distribute in skinny jeans and most skaters are 65 lbs wet and includes board weight. Not threatening in any way...

      April 12, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      BRD, now you're showing your ignorance... That's what backpacks were invented for.

      If black kids ran around in skinny jeans (which some do), you'd find a way to be threatened by that threatening too, I imagine...

      April 12, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. tiara

    and all this racism yet you let it seep out yours pours over a computer screens...... cowards.....white people even have golds are they thugs ....i wear hoodies and live in the subrurbs am i a thug .....

    April 12, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. Maude

    ii will say it again!!!!

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

    April 12, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Ninja

      AND INCASE YOU HAVE NOT NOTICED, NO ONE GIVES A FLYING RATS A** WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY! So go shove "jihad" up your anus.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      iI see your IP address that you may be Jew. You need to smell your stinking hairy anus.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Haha, Maude. I'm starting to get the feeling you're some fat 40-something white guy who's looking to troll. By all means, proceed.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
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