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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    when blacks cry enough they always get their way! so sick of this crap. this will be bad and i blame cnn for making this into a story. if you try and attack me i have the right to kill you. blacks are stupid and suck!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • noyreT

      actually it's yo momma that sucks...

      April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      Had to be a confederate, ignorant anus.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      America is celebrating! One nation under God. Justice and Liberty for All!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOHN PHOENIX

      Time to let the NRA do the enforcing, not the JUST US Dept.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • darth cheney

      Yes, I'm sure that's why he's being charged, because the "blacks always cry." Grow up.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big B

      C'mon Jesse don't kill urself ok. Welcome to the New America

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mad

      Hey Jesse, " How does it feel to be Klan??? Your nothing but an ignorant Bigot,and "Card Carrying Racist!!! We all know where your going on "Rekoning Day!!! Say hi to Bundy,Hitler, your friends!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques

      Wow what a cry-baby. Instead of killing someone, you can also try and you know, win a fight instead of being a gun toting, toothless, worthless, hillbilly

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seth

      Very ignorant comment. I think you should be taught a lesson but you hide behind a cpu so i cant teach you.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • kim call

      It this was true slavery would never have happened. I understand when you look in the mirror you see white/right..

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ace

      jesse, you are a fool, they have to charge him and then let the court and a jury decide on the verdict.
      If not, you will have more people shooting each other down there for simple arguemts at the checkout counter.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse = KKK

      Less crying, more book learning is needed where Jesse is from

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Silver Back

      Call it pay back! How does it feel? Next, you better learn Spanish amigo.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • triathlete66

      Your comment is truly disappointing. Neither you or I know the full facts and if there is a chance that Trayvon was unjustly killed you should be focused on that. However, it seems that you are delighted that one of the 'blacks' was killed. I challenge you to say this to the 'blacks' that you come in contact with and not hide behind your posts.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Democrat

      You are the epitome of a racist. You don't know all black people so how can you catogorize them and say they all suck. Speak what you know about and don't assume. You know what assuming does.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • kim call

      I guess that's Zimmerman thought and look where he is now... On the run.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnsonj3

      Whites been crying for years and what? This young man was killed for walking the streets you need to get a grip.
      Whites get away with much more than any of us Blacks do.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie Z

      This child was not attacking anyone, this child was walking home! Zimmerman was not in or near his domain! The law is meant for idiots who try to break into your home or property (Stand your ground) not the FRICKEN GROUND YOUR STANDING ON!!! The law was not meant for people to chase other people down and murder them!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie Z

      Jessie- You are an IDIOT! You have the mind of a fricken pea! Crawl back under that 1960's rock you crawled out from under. You are embarrassment to society! You should be ashamed of yourself!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • sawitcoming

      That's stupid. Calling for justice and demanding one's rights is not "crying."

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • mkeey

      Jesse soon you would be the next to be jailed

      April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Texas Democrat

    An injustice to one AMERICAN is and injustice to all. This could be anyone's child. He did nothing wrong and he was killed. The honesty of Zimmerman has flown away and he is in hiding; acknowledging his guilt. Regardless of the race, this is plan murder. Maybe it was accidental and he got a little hot headed, but it was murder. I am grateful to the togetherness of the community to bring this to a close. Justice will be served one way or another. "Vengence is mine said the Lord". The writing is on the wall here.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • sawitcoming

      Thank you, agreed.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Justin Case

    If Zimmerman wasn't playing Police officer this would have not had happened. For all of you sticking up for this guy you should be ashamed of yourself. He should get aggravated manslaughter which is the crime he committed. Because Trevon beating his ass doesn’t mean you can pull a gun out and shoot him. Simply put no Zimmerman no death.
    He stalked him and then killed him when he could not win a fight with him.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • cacol

      So if someone is beating your a$$, you can't shoot him/her? what happened to the theory of self protection...fear for you own life. What am I missing here. Oh yeah race..forgot.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jymbeau

      Actually, in Florida, that's exactly what it means.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Silver Back

      @ Justin Beber,
      What facts do you have that nobody eles has?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cacol

    Hadda charge Z with something or the AAs would riot bigtime. Who can't see thru this action????

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. comeatmebro

    phearis: you forget that your hero Zimmerman in a lying, police officer assulting, girlfriend beating, murderer on a teenager

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lutz

    The problem here is no matter if it was racially motivated or not a young man was murdered. His parents don't get to see him graduate or get married or have grand kids because someone murdered him. I think he should be tried and see what the jury decides. According to american law the family has a right to have him tried.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • avoiceinmyhead

      I agree with the first part of your post, but according to "american law", it is not a family's right to have a person tried.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Victoria

    Martin should not have had to run from anyone...@ Subnx

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kim call

    Let's hope for justice and not JUST US. Some people are born privileged and will never understand what other people have to go through in life just to be treated fairly.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    I feel sorry for Zimmerman. This is such an unfortunate for everyone involved.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnsonj3

      I hope he get what is coimg to him. He is a murder.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lash

    You just violated george Zimmerman's privacy rights.. Quoting anonymous officials close to this case, gives CNN plausible deniabilty should any legal expert decided to take you to task in a court of law. The special prosecutor has not made an official statement yet.. Your organization should be careful in the future....

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • darth cheney

      pretty selective in considering rights, aren't you?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cassie

    ZIMMERMAN is not only of hispanic background, he is also white. ZIMMERMAN is not an hispanic name. Remmber his father IS white, mother is hispanic, so stop pointing the finger at one background and just concentrate on what this man did to another regardless of color, race, religion.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • cacol

      Being Hispanic-white makes you automatically guily when an AA is involved. Blacks seem to do a lot of mudering to their own – who knows why other blacks don't scream and riot over this social problem. I amcertain blacks kill other blacks who are young

      April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chuck21

    What people have to realize that is this is not about color, but right and wrong! The crazy laws that have been pushed by NRA and ALEC are as much to blame about this killing as is Zimmerman. These laws are being passed without a second thought! There are no requirements for gun owners to attend any education of any kind as to what could be determined as "Standing Your Ground." Call your state officials and ask why these laws were passed, considering the citizens never asked for them!! What you don't see now is the cowering NRA lobbyists that stood so proud with state officials as these ridiculous laws were passed! Where are those big mouths of NRA and ALEC now????

    April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • cacol

      Come on. It certainly is, certainly is, certainly about color. The racial divide is looming large.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. areacode612

    I want to stand my ground. I will never run from thugs.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • darth cheney

      That's not what Zimmerman did. He got out of a car carrying a gun to chase down someone who might've looked a little like a thug. Then, when the kid fought to save his life, he shot him.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. equal justice for all

    The comments on this board are very disturbing and demonstrate that this country has a long way to go on race relations. The level of ignorance is beyond comprehension. I agree if the tables were turned and a black man had killed an unarmed white teen who only had candy and ice tea we would have never had heard of the case because he would have been arrested on the spot.

    It is a sad commentary on this society that all of the protest had to occur just to get an arrest in this case. Zimmerman will face justice in jail or justice in the streets if he is aquitted, jail will be the safest option.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce in VA

      You speak of disturbing comments, but to tell you the truth, your comments are possibly more disturbing than any others I have seen.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BlackDynamite

    Now they can get the police work done they should have already done weeks ago.....
    BD

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165