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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    If anyone harms anyone they should be found quilty regardless of race. But if the law says he has right to defend himself then he does. And he did. Trayvon should not have attacked him. The poor kid suffered injury to his head and face. There was obviously a struggle.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saundra

      Mike, do you know the difference in the words WATCH and PURSUE? There is a big difference. Watch means I am watching. Pursue means I am going after something or someone. George Zimmerman was advised by the dispatch officer on the 911 call not to pursue, he chose to pursue and now must stand the consequences of his choice.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sanity

    jail is the safest place for Zimmerman right now, otherwise someone may see him as a threat, stand their ground and blow him away....

    April 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. john staer

    he wont be able to get a fair trail and if he is found not guilty they will have one big riot and loot everytthing it make me sick to see al sharpton standing there hopefully the truth will come out

    April 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      One question, is Trayvon dead? Zimmerman stalked this teenager and indicated in the 911 call that he didn't belong in that gated community. Justice will be served no one is hating on George he pulled the trigger and he weighed over 200 pounds and Trayvon weighed 140!

      April 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bruno

    Why would you get out the car if you would have stay in side the car this mother woud have her son everyone knows what goes faster than walking everyone know a car can

    April 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sonnyofthemeek

    Now that Mr. Zimmerman has turned himself in so the process can be tried where it belongs-

    To all who have rushed to comment, trying Zimmerman and Trayvon in the media (Edited tapes and all), street and congress, as well as our president (who has been as silent as all on the BOUNTY placed on a citizen of the US dead or alive by the new Black Panthers- DOJ never prosecuted their last crime), shame on you all. Where is the national outcry? We teach our children to be patient, honest and respectful and to not jump to conclusions before knowing all there is about someone or something. Tweeting innocent people's address who are not involved and now having to hide in fear away from their AMERICAN HOME ( What if it was the real Zimmerman;s mom and dad and harm befell them? Why is this not a crime in its self?). So called newscasters ( readers of script today) spewing their biased views in place of fact checked news. Millions being made off the death of another dead AMERICAN ( Trayvon) is getting out of hand. Supposed outraged students not in school but robbing Walgreens and missing out on their education. To turn up the heat you refer to his race (Zimmerman’s) as WHITE HISPANIC! When on air has this been said before of any race? Our President comes from two races, when has the news referred to him as white, or black African American as with Zimmerman? Oprah has commented to prove my point! Agree or disagree let me know please. Race has never been a true aspect of this case, let the facts, not those needing a soap box to spew hatred and unrest, decide this and all cases. Can we sue DOJ for allowing the New Black Panthers to announce on TV and on their radio ( remarks broadcast on news stating for them to Boot up and strap up for war ?) Will they ( the New Black Panthers) put a bounty on me, or you next with impunity? Write our President, or Attorney General and ask for his input, if you dare

    April 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      The news media (and you too, CNN) has gotten a hold of this hot story and they just won't let go. Pit bull media. It's probably going to be as big and as long as the OJ Simpson trial was. The stand your ground law is now in question. As is assumptions about people based on what they're wearing. Two points that will be affected by the result of the trial.
      Unfortunately, the news media has spoiled 98% of the peoples ability to make good jurors. They're going to have to try him in a small town in England or somewhere they don't know about the case. It's "breaking news".....but IMHO it's just another example of media abuse. And that is all about ratings. $$$$$$ rules...again. 😦

      April 13, 2012 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      Media is merely reporting , that's all. You fail to see that.

      April 20, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. Calvin

    Are they sure they guy will be safe if he is let out on bond? To me i think if the whole country is against me i would want to be somewhere they can protect me.

    April 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. juan

    It's great and all that they charged him with murder, but what i don't get is why do they always tell what race the killer is and the victim.

    April 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      It makes better "news", and it adds fuel to the fire. 5091 comments on this article alone in less than two days!

      April 13, 2012 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      This is all due to the fact that "whites" have to appease the "blacks" so to prove that no partiality is being shown against the "blacks", yet read the headlines of the newspapers everyday and see whose behind 89% of all break-ins, murders, "beat-downs" , shootings, ....it is the "blacks"!! Yet, as Americans, we have to put innocent people behind bars, just to appease the "blacks"....I am certainly getting tired of people "fearing" the BLACKS!! All the riots and marches are getting OLD folks!! Just so they can have THEIR WAY!!! This bending over to the "blacks" is really getting OUT OF HAND!! George Zimmerman should have NEVER been charged with 2nd. degree murder!!!! Had he been a BLACK person, good chance he would have been charged with only manslaughter!! Again, the appeasing of the "blacks" has gotten WAYYYY out of hand in our society!!

      April 15, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • student

      the reason the media does that is to cause a uproar about the case
      most people wouldnt care if it was"black man shoots balck man" they add the race so there storys will sell

      April 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. edward ryder

    justice has prevailed!

    April 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hammerdog

      Not yet, but hopefully it will. It's gonna take some time.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. edward ryder

    in the words of rodney king,cant we all just get along?

    April 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. adrienne resnick

    A guy in a hoodie would scare me regardless of race. I agree with the man who said why do they always say the races of people. A killing is a killing. George Zimmerman should not be tried in the court of public opinion. None of the people, except the vistim and Mr. Zimmerman were there. They will never get a jury who has not heard of this case. Happy hunting.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • havewelostourway

      So you're saying you are scared of males in hoodies, no matter where you are? Hummmm! Or just males in hoodies walking down the street( in America thank you very much), that are minding their own business, scare you? IJS!

      April 12, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      How about an Amish jury?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Hammerdog

      Adrienne-
      At my local Safeway store, there is now a sign on the door asking people wearing hoodies to keep the hood down. That is because recently, at another Safeway three miles away, a guy with a hoodie (over his head) tried to rob a checker at knife point. They caught him later, but the problem became real, and Safeway felt they had put up signs. Good. Hoodies have been a bad idea ever since they were invented. Too stealth. Like wearing a ski mask. And rap artists doing videos with hoodies haven't helped the situation either.

      Hoodie up = Anonymous versus Hoodie down = you can see a face at least....

      April 13, 2012 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Wes Douglas

      They're not trying to find a jury that has not heard of the case. The goal is supposed to be to find a jury that is impartial (which, in reality, is just as likely to happen).

      April 13, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • ShayStar1

      Soooo...Let me get this straight...If you saw my 11 year old son in a hoodie walking down the street, you'd be scared??? I'm just trying to get an understanding. I think it's silly to feel theatened by someone in a certain article of clothing. If you got to a college campus, ALL YOU SEE are hoodies everywhere, up and down. And when I have on a hoodie, (I'm a female by the way) depending on what color hoodie I am wearing and what size that hoodie is (sometimes I wear my own that are pink and all other girlie colors, my sons, or my husband's, which are too big for me) you can't tell if I'm a chick, or a dude, so I would scare the begeezuz out of you with a hoodie on with the hood up. There's a gas station on the corner of my block that we often walk to, in the rain, with our hoodies on with the hoods UP. So I guess everyoe in my family, including my 3 year old would scare you because she actually own sweaters, with hoods on them that came from Old Navy in various colors and she likes to put the hoods up when she wears them. Damn. You scare easily.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Someone

    The second worst thing to the loss of an innocent life is making the public grow weary of it. I hope for Martin's sake that this proceeds discreetly and doesn't become the next Casey Anthony saga.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. The Truth

    Scenario...I have a taste for some m&m's. It's drizzling, let me put my hoodie on. Who is is guy watching me, should I go back home (in the gated community in which I live). No I really want some m&m's. Now this guys is following me in his car, I think he may try to rob me. Dude, what are you doing following me? Leave me alone! Dude let me go! BANG! I can't believe this guy just shot me.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      Excellent comment! 🙂 And probably very close to what Martin was thinking.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Horrible comment. That is exactly what was not going through his mind. Ignorant fool.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      No, it goes this way...HEY, this guy just tried to beat my head to a pulp, broke my nose and I need to do something to stop him...I'm warning him to stop...he still keeps it up...well, it looks like it's him or me...and I pull my hand gun to protect myself..one in which I have a license to carry...and I use it. This is the "real and proper" scenario!!

      April 15, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      Yea, after beating his head into the cement, breaking my nose and still rolling me around on the ground...I need to defend myself...so, end result to protect myself, I shoot...with a handgun I have a license to carry and have a reason, like someone is beating me to a pulp, the right to use....that's the scenario!! And that's the TRUTH!!

      April 15, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. hammerdog

    This isn't about blacks or browns or whites or yellows... Two issues here;
    #1-it's about making assumptions about people based on what they're wearing. So much is being written that ignores this.
    #2- the "Stand your ground" law is now being questioned and in jeopardy.
    Zimmerman was told by 911 NOT to pursue Martin. That's where his "stand your ground" argument falls apart. It's going to be a big trial, and probably a long one. It'll take a while to just choose a jury! 😦

    April 13, 2012 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Are you talking to intelligent reasoning individuals, or the ignorant mindless sheep lead by the media. The news has made this into nothing but a race issue.

      You are also mislead about the "stand your ground" / dispatch argument. Dispatchers are just that, dispatchers. They are the communicator between the caller and police/fire/ Emergency medical end. Not law enforcement. Outside some states requirements for special certifications, not much more than a high school diploma is needed to gain employment. A dispatcher telling you to desist following someone, or telling you drop your pants and dance, requires no legal obligation on your part. It certainly sounds detrimental to zimmerman's argument, but that is all. stand your ground may ultimately save his butt.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      READ the headlines...most all shootings, break-ins, murders, etc. are done by "guys" wearing "hoodies"..A "hoodie" is a SIGN to most "blacks", just like wearing their pants waists down around their knees!! All a "sign" of ..".uh huh, I bad, look at me....I am the coolest of cool...if I do anything, I will be supported with marches, protests, media and the judicial system", just because they don't wanna step on any toes belonging to "BLACKS"!! Hey Americans...this train of thought is getting REALLY OLD!!! Stop lettin' the blacks govern all we believe in, such as our judicial system and the rights of ALL Americans, black or WHITE or HISPANIC!!!

      April 15, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. "Wow!"

    164 pages of comments, and still going. What's the record, CNN?

    April 13, 2012 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Amber

    Brenda, you're a bigot. Get the hell off the boards.

    April 16, 2012 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
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