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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    You want to say something about trayvon and drugs well zimmerman attacked a cop in his friends defense ...do u know him ...know so how do u know what he was thinking on Feb 26 .......and I dnt agree with what spike lee did .....nor what the new black panthers were trying to do but zimmerman needs to be tried ...manslaughter is good for me

    April 12, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Billbo

    Bunch of dumb nigers.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. jazz648

    Bull Reverse: I don't know what really happened, either. I simply want to see the system respected and allowed to seek the level of justice that the evidence (much of which we HAVEN'T heard) indicates. "Considerate and logical"? Me? Bull Reverse, nice try, but I'm NOT sending you money by Western Union.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      Jazx, good post and don't need money. I've done very well and glad we can share thoughts, opinions with freedom of speech without hate, fists or weapons. Unfortunately two others didn't and why we are blogging. Who knows what happened, but it's made us think inside outside and around the box.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jerime

    name one black slave in america today name one but what wht white people are racist how many all black collages are there and that is ok to have all black collages but not have all hispanic collages because that would be racist and you call white people racist black people need to stop blamming everyone else for what is wrong this the black people today because your own black people sold you to americans 100 years ago dont you all think its time to stop blaming everyone for your problems and get off your butts and try to make america a better place where everyone is equal and justice work but that wont work on someone simple mind thinking there are owed for what happen 100 years ago to justify the way thay act today

    April 12, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      We are trying, we serve in the Military, we have a president who is black, we have doctors, lawyers, politicians etc.... who are black. BUT - we are being shot at damn it... you need to stop. The modern day lynching is by the gun.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tiara

    And its not race crap ....he was racially profiles it was stated on the police tape that he stated he was black teenager with a hood in walking around he fits the description of someone who may commit robbery .....it is what it is not every case involving a black person who commits a crime is a racial act this shows that this case was....stop being an angry white citizen and accept the facts .....and trayvon was a teenager I'm sure half of you did God knows what in your hay day ....

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

      Let he who has not sinned, right?

      April 12, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Billbo

      STFU, ignorant niger.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ryan Widmer

    What about Ryan Widmer? He was failed by THE very same justice system that failed Trayvon. His like snuffed out by overzealous Prosecutors, crooked cops and Judges from warren county! Ohio is as crooked as they come!!!! Don't be fooled!!!!! "Justice" system???? What a joke.. Prison exists so the government can make money. They don't give a damn about justice for Trayvon, or Ryan or anyone for that matter. We're all just pawns in their sick political world. You want to help someone? Call the governor of Ohio, someone needs to blow the whistle on this state. Why do you think it has one of the highest number of prisons/prisoners in all of North America? Because there's so much crime in ohio? No...because they get paid every single time they assign a new inmate #, and state "aid" for each subsequent year they are imprisoned. How do I know this? I can't tell you or I'd conveniently disappear. I can tell you Its all a big LIE. One giant political lie with everyone stapling their lips to the next right-wingers ass. The people up there in office do not care about YOU or how many innocent people they hurt. Or Who killed who....They care about $$$. http://www.FREERYANWIDMER.COM

    April 12, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. DurpDurp

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

    Please PLEASE do so. It will solve our problem rather quickly. You will be wiped out, we'll have a huge federal surplus from drops in welfare claimants and prisoner housing, and our neighborhoods will be safe for children to play past dark again.

    Neighborhood watches exist and Martin was killed because of the decades long history of you monkeys breaking in to steal what you can't earn.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    Thoughts

    April 12, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Stand Your Ground Zimmerman!!

      April 12, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. DurpDurp

    "
    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."

    Please Maude, continue to tell us how deprived and enslaved you are. When you are up and posting at 1am. How will you ever work in the fields at dawn if up this late? Oh wait....slavery hasn't existed for hundreds of years... And yet you still desperately grasp onto that crutch as a reason for your race being the hershey squirt stain on the underwear of this country.

    Slaves must have a pretty good life these days if they have internet access to come on here and post their pathetic views in butchered 3rd grade level of the english language, right Maude? Poor poor enslaved person you are.....

    April 12, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Actually, Maude appears to be quite up-to-date on the requirements for a murder conviction. Thanks, Maude.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tiara

    No disrespect to anyone's religion ...I am a Christian ....and love it ...converting will do me anymore good than being what I am now ....we haven't stole anything ....have you noticed what senseless crime you commit ...murder for money ....murder over allowance ....murder over being bullied .....murdered cause you wanna sleep with your secretary....thete is bad in every race blacks aren't the problem no single face OS what is is injustice

    April 12, 2012 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
    • DurpDurp

      Could you try resposting that in english please?

      April 12, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    Thats harsh and way far from What this blog is about. Im sad for you durp and not proud of my race that you would post that on here. I'm white and do not agree with any of the sad and pathetic things you just blogged and not what this is about.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Durp Durp is just a troll – looking for a quick fap rather than an honest discussion. He'll go away when he gets bored.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tiara

    And someone please look up the word nig*er it means and ignorant person ...which that pertains to every race ....

    April 12, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. DurpDurp

    Bull, this is an open forum about a story on CNN, not yours or anyone else's blog. I value your opinion as I do anyone's, but am certainly not moved by it. This "blog" has degraded from discussing the facts of the case to extremely polarized racial views from both sides, and I chose to respond to the most pathetic examples. Sorry if you are offended, but I didn't exactly toss mud on the windshield. I merely took a little polish off an existing turd.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      The "Jerry Springer" defense.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tiara

    Durp Durp ...your sad ...we help create this country as well did we discover America no ...neither did you America was already occupied ...by native Americans ........black people Africans at that time help raise white children ...they helped tend to the crops so that your ancestors could eat ....now slavery isn't present but the same hatred that kept ya ignorant back then is .....you say all these things on a computer but I'm sure you would never to my face .all that is ask that justice be given to every race and that one situation not be more important than the other

    April 12, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      tiara, I'm white and apoguze for durps blog and not my thoughts at all. I agree with fair and equal treatment based on facts not skin color!

      April 12, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. DurpDurp

    Dave, I find it funny you praise Maude for her insightful discussion and call me a troll, when this quote from her exists on the last page back....

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

    Troll? Pot, meet Kettle.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Actually, if you look back far enough, I did call her a troll for those comments. I also hypothesized that she's a 40 year-old white guy. Ask her, she can vouch for me.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
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