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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    This whole thing is a sham.
    If the color was reversed it would not even be news.

    Nice racial blow up CNN.

    Both are losers....Darwin at work.

    NO BIG LOSS!

    April 12, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. liz

    Will Special Prosecutor Angela Corey now charge Trevor Dooley who killed David James and claims stand your ground ? By the way this act was committed in front of David James's 8 year old daughter at a Florida playground.

    April 12, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. bo dean

    KKK

    April 12, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Re:KKK

      nah....just realistic thoughts.

      April 12, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mark

    Okay, I know that this is not going to be a popular comment but at this point I no longer care. I am sorry that Trayvon lost his life...as we all should be. However, I feel that Mr. Zimmerman is being thrown under the bus to save the careers of the powers that be in Sanford (not to mention the State's Attorney's office and the Governor's office). First of all, more than one man will be on trial here. The whole "Stand your Ground" law (which I feel is a fundamentally good law, which arguably may require a few tweaks) is being tested here. If Mr. Zimmerman is convicted, the liberals in the Florida Legislature will all jump on the bandwagon to repeal this law. As a citizen of the State of Florida, and a concealed weapons permit holder, I believe that this law is essential to keep the population at large from being victimized by the growing number of conscienceless thugs roaming the streets of our state (and by all reports our country). What bothers me most is that people (who weren't there) seem to know A.) exactly what happened B.) What Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman were thinking at that EXACT moment. This is complete and utter BS! The law clearly states that the use of deadly force is authorized if a person is in fear for their life or the life of someone else. Who are we (who weren't there) to assume that we know whether or not Mr. Zimmerman was in fear for his life? Who are we to say that we might not have reacted in a similar manner if we were put in that situation? The truth of the matter is that NO ONE knows how they might react until they are put in that situation. I have been there and I can tell you that at that moment, you don't have time to think, you only have time to react and you pray that when that moment comes, your reactions are the right ones.

    April 12, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Why second degree murder? Why not first degree murder? Criminal law states two things about motive and intent? The mental framework of the perpetrator tells what was his perceived intent! Secondly, the extent or nature of the crime reveals the mental framework of the perpetrator! And in this case, Zimmerman intended to break the law and inflict bodily injury on the victim Trayvon from the onset when he made offensive and derogatory remarks on the police transcript towards Trayvon, even though he didn't know anything about Trayvon's character or intent if any! Secondly, the fact that Zimmerman refused to properly identify himself as a neighborhood watch and confronted and shoot Trayvon shows his reckless disregard for the law and worst of alll, his disregard for human life! let's face it, Zimmerman should be charged with first degree murder becaus ethat is exactly what it was!

    April 12, 2012 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • really?

      You really have no idea what your talking about.
      Let me guess::::another minority trying to get something he does not deserve.

      Were you there. Do you have an education.
      Do you have a job?

      April 12, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. bob

    LET THE CIRCUS BEGIN, THIS WHOLE SHOW HAS BEEN A JOKE.

    April 12, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. ElectricLion

    Personally, I think Zimmerman should be charged for Martin's death. However, I find myself wondering if he was charged because of the investigation, or because politicians have no backbone and are caving to public pressure. It's important that justice be done for Zimmerman as much as for Martin.

    April 12, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Interested48

      Agreed. At least now we can all see the facts and stop the wild accusations on both sides. Let the court decide.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Justice?

    Not in this case!
    This case is such a sham!
    Move on America!
    The kid was a loser and zimmer is no better.
    TRULY PATHETIC waste of judicial time!

    April 12, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • tallcoolbeauty

      What's truly pathetic is for you to defame a child that you didn't know. What's pathetic is that you seem to believe that in 2012, it's okay to kill an unarmed child without cause. What's pathetic is that you don't seem to have the ability to discern that this is 2012 not 1955. What's most pathetic is that people like you actually exist while Trayvon Martin is dead.

      April 12, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Tallcoolugly

      Yawn..You are boring me

      April 12, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Tallcoolugly

      Oh and yes...Brilliant!!! He is dead...
      Whats the loss?

      April 12, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • bai

      By your logic you should be shot.
      Please provide your address. A like minded, arms-laden, bigot mouth breather will be by to mete out coveted brand of justice shortly.

      Or, was your litmus test for being "worthwhile" the shade of a persons skin? Would Trevon have been more of a tragedy for you had he been white and named Billy.

      Keep railing on old guard. Your bigotry is fast becoming a fainter and fainter echo with each generation.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Oh NO

      Speaking as a mother, what I don't get is why TM was on the streets at all. Wasn't he suspended from school for 10 days for drugs? If he were my child he would have had his cell phone taken away and he certainly would not have been allowed outside or have any contact with "friends" the rest of the school year. This suspension is very serious and shows a young man that has a serious substance abuse problem and no consequences for HIS actions. I've not seen any articles about what time of day or night this all occurred but I suspect that it was a time of night he should have been home studying. Skittles and ice tea apparently were his dinner as there wasn't much parenting going on. There is no excuse for any of this to have happened but I sincerely doubt that TM was innocent and as his parents they need to realize that they are very much to blame for not setting ground rules and appropriate punishments for his inappropriate and illegal actions. I can't help but feel for Mr. Zimmerman as black against white racism continues to be ok in this country. Of course the "politically motivated" prosecutor made her decision based on public opinion!! Anyone who thinks differently doesn't know the "illegal system." It's all about wins and public opinion, not what is fair and just.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    One doesn't have to be at the scene of the crime to fully understand what happened to Trayvon! Most crimes prosecuted are prosecuted on the facts presented and so far the facts prove that a coward stalked and persued a child fleeing from a confrontation! This isn't about black or white but about an outrageous crime that was committed and should be prosecuted! Let's face it, you rightwing confederates can defend Zimmerman all you want but just beware that if these sorts of crimes are allowed to happen, then every and anyone in Florida and in other states that have this stand your ground law could start purchasing handguns and taking the law into their own hands! Then what we would have here is an out of control situation where everyone's safety would be at stake! Is that what you people want?

    April 12, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @ Tallcoolughly

    Perhaps when you or a love one gets murdered, then the rest of us could all agree that nothing of woth was lost! Pathetic!

    April 12, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. 4god2say

    Zimmermen is "innocent until proven guilty". Nobody knows what happen out there, only Zimmermen.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. Lisa

    Are you kidding me?????we all knew what was comming when Sharpton and ole jesse jackson came into the picture...this is nothing more than people being afraid of a riot yeah that's right I said it ......and you can thank HLN as well as CNN........they only showed little innosent pictures of Trayvon not the real pictures of him being a" THUG" that he truly was..................people please quit watching hln and cnn they are very racist they have proven this over and over again..."VINNIE,LOT LIZZARD JANE,AND BOMBSHELL WANNA BE NANCY ARE ALL LOSERS..........

    April 12, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. LWJR

    Zimmerman should be charged, but he is also a Political Prisoner caught up in 2012 election year politics thanks to King Obama. Maybe it's time for the LIB PRESS to wake up and see what they have been doing to help Comrade Lenin get re-elected.

    April 12, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. Nature

    Thanks Tray"whatever" your name was.

    Worms gotta eat too!

    April 12, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Lisa

    OH I bet my comment won't last long but if i ever get thur on the phone I will tell tha whole world what I and alot of others think...................THE TRUTH HURT'S AND CNN&HLN can't handle the truth now can you?

    April 12, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
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