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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    i will not sit here and act like i dnt know that crime is high in the black community but at the same time ...if you look at crimes that are based on financial gain you all are at the highest.....when school bombing and school shooting happen it isnt black kids that do it ...its mostly white children...most serial killer dahmer gacy bundy were white

    April 12, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Typical

      Cool. That's not stereotyping white people. Not one bit. But I guess that's okay because Al Sharpton said so. You are ignorant ma'am

      April 12, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    Nit a white black issue until
    Presidenti order made it. Martin was a thug and wound up dead for disrespect to authority and livin the thug life. He should have stayed in school and taken advantage of Obama grants and free scholarships. He attacked a neighborhood watch person that challenges him on why on premises and then attacked Zimmerman while waiting on police. Zimmerman used justified deadly force and not charged until Obama made it a racial case. My son ..,.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      At what point was Martin living a "thug life"? When he went to the 7-11 for Skittles? When he was having a conversation with his girlfriend? When he was walking to his dad's house?

      I can see why all the boys want to be gangsta...

      April 12, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Ninja

      Thank you for that BRD. As a matter of fact, I have noticed this as well. Do any of you think for ONE SECOND that the president would have said anything about this kid if he were white? He certainly would not have said "If i had a son, he would look like Trayvon." Exactly. This probably did not start out as a racial issue until Obama opened his damn mouth about it.

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

      Thank you for that BRD. As a matter of fact, I have noticed this as well. Do any of you think for ONE SECOND that the president would have said anything about this kid if he were white? He certainly would not have said "If i had a son, he would look like Trayvon." Exactly. This probably did not start out as a racial issue until Obama opened his damn mouth about it. And I imagine now, black people everywhere are saying "it's okay because obama said it was."

      April 12, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. jazz648

    ccks: Are you nuts? None of what you wrote makes any difference, even it was true. A man with an agenda stalks a young man minding his own business who winds up dead. That's the long and short of it. Race is a factor as is evidenced by the 911 tapes which the police DID NOT WANT to release. Your hate is deep and your soul shallow if you can't put yourself in the shoes of his parents. People should not worry about racists such as you because you can't reason your way out of a paper bag.

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

    and maybe if these gun laws were in placed it would have save a lot of black live 100 yrs ago...because many whites would be dead for the senseless crimes that yall committed 100+ yrs ago...so y are you made that we demand justice now ....zimmeran was wrong period .....if we had a gun back then i would have told my ancestors to stand your ground ...

    April 12, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. Realist

    @ Tiara- agree 100%

    April 12, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. tiara

    none of the you listen to the stated...he highlighted several times that he was black ...he stated that he was on drugs but how would he know he was on drugs he racially profiled him ...had he been white he would have turned the other cheek ....dude girl friend heard the entire thing.....

    April 12, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. 1amazed1

    Its figures...... Public pressure

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

      Thank goodness for that. We must demand justice.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. tiara

    because there was several break in is why he immediately thought trayvon was a thug....and please stop with the drug/thug ordeal no teenager is innocent....white kids have issue as well as hispanics......

    April 12, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. Maude

    It has to said again.I
    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 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. jazz648

    Bull Reverse Discrimination: You really are a sack of stones, pebbles at that. No criminal intent? That will be, apparently, decided by a jury. My son teaches criminal law but he doesn't need to explain stalking, provocation, confrontation and ultimately murder.You are bashing the victim, who was simply walking down the street. I've read some of your blogs and yes, you are an angry, racist fool, but harmless.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      jazz. I am not a racist but feel that the courts will decide based on criminal intent. Also agree that I will choose tried by twelve any day va carried by six. I appreciate your comments and expressing freedom of speech, what is still few and great about our country and bill of rights. You seem like a considerate and logical man, but who knows what really happened that night? I don't ?

      April 12, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I might be wrong, but I don't believe second-degree murder requires criminal intent. Zimmerman probably excluded himself from a "stand your ground" defense by following Martin, so it's not a matter of proving intent as it is a matter of proving the grounds of "self-defense": whether Zimmerman did or did not have reason to feel his life was in danger, and whether Zimmerman made an attempt to retreat the situation. This will most likely hinge on whether Zimmerman approached Martin, or whether Martin attacked Zimmerman.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      dave. Great post. I agree

      April 12, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      all criminal charges require Actus Reas and Mens Rea. Intent, knowledge, control are the three elements required to satisfy a guilty verdict. +

      April 12, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. 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 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    Zimmy the clown is now in jail, so the next step is conviction, he killed an unarmed teenager = MURDER I don't care what his story is, this is an old scam played by people in society that have political connections.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Maude

    Romeny's religion teaches black people to be closer to animals than human beings. Remember this come November 2012.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Name*goatroper

    Those blacks need to get off this race crap . They are the only ones that keep this race issue going . His mother and loud mouth sharpton need to just shut up and go away . Get over it..

    April 12, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      We will stop when we get justice. We will stop when you stop enslaving us. We will stop when we get fair play.
      People like you need to go away. You will turn into dust to dust and fly away to never never land soon.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. David stokoe

    You Americans are a blot on human race!Learn some humility!,

    April 12, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      Believe in Allah and all will be well. Tiara is a Muslim name.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Humanity is a blot on humanity. You might be wearing a rose, but we all reek of mortality.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
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