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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    THIS JUST IN: A new post by CNN says that charges have not been filed and may NOT be filed. Someone jumped the gun.

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

      If they charge him during the press conference that really shows the politics involved. If he is going to be charged, charge him and arrest him. Don't play it up for the cameras. The media circus has gotten big enough already.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Agrav8td

    How come this is not just about a murder that was committed? Why are people making this about race? Blacks kill blacks, whites kill whites. But as soon as a white person kills a black person or vice versa, the bigots come out of the woodwork (on BOTH sides) and make it all about race. People kill people, unfortunately it happens every day.

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

      So very true. We are long passed the bigotry when it comes to blacks. Get over it people.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandra Smith

      I agree with you!!!

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

    Where is the "outrage" from "Hispanic leaders"?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dammorsox

    Wow, so much hate. No wonder our country is in the shape it is in. Zimmerman was able to carry a weapon with his "history." He continued to follow the victim even after the police told him to stop. Crazy.

    Why in the heck does everything get posted on the internet. Why did they say they "are going to press charges" before arresting him allowing him ample opportunity to flee. What ever happened to common sense?

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

      Whatever happened to civil rights?

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

      The police never told Zimmerman to stop following Martin. A 911 dispatcher did and they have no legal authority.

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

    people sound crazy on here

    April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Roger Smith

    before you start celebrating the arrest of the Zman which has no happened. you better look at the source of the story that hes going to be arrested.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bryan Jon

    Where is this person going to get a fair trial? He has already been found guilty by the court of public opinion and the news media. If you can think objectively you would be able to see that all of our civil rights are at risk if this goes forward.

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

    Great, convict him if he is guilty. Now can we go get the millions of black people who commit crimes against whites everyday. If you are white, you are 7 times more likely to be killed by a black person than a white person. Look it up on the FBI's websites. The stats don't lie. The media only covers certain incidents. There are thousands of youtube videos showing black people attacking innocent white people. The media rarely brings it up. I bet you can barely find ten videos of white people attacking black people. While there may be other racial issues in this country, please do not ignore the black on white crime.

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

      Sorry. Most of the crimes being committed against whites are by whites.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jose

    Zimmerman will be found guilty. You’ll see, when someone has a gun, he or she needs to show restraint and be a lot more responsible. He went after the kid like if he was a cowboy. He was the one obviously the one that started all this, this tragedy could have easily happened when martin was Going to buy the skittles and the iced tea. And was doing nothing wrong, this would have never happened if georgie would have left him alone. He deserves everything he is going through. It's just starting.....

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

    Finally...

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

    When is the black card ever going to stop being played? That kid was a thug just like the rest and now a great injustice will continue to be played out due to the media and black nonsense. Get over it and stop thinking you need special considerations just because your own people once sold you. Everyone is tired of this.

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

    Internet mob wins again! Arm-chair investigators prevail!

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

    This Prosecutor has a conviction rate double that for Blacks as opposed to other groups. She's aggressive to the point where only conviction bodycount matters. Sad. However, She feels that she can forward a case against Georgie sooner than she'd like because of his Lawyer's recent withdrawal of representation. Interesting to see what charges will be filed.

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

    The gun emboldened the shooter to enter into a situation. His decision to pursue led to a situation in which he had to choose whether or not to use the gun. Unfortunately, he chose to use it. The death was avoidable.

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

    OMG I want to scream and pull my hair right out of my head. None of you were there, none of you know what happened. Travon wasn't some little child, he was over 6 ft tall. There are all kinds og gang banging thugs that are 17, so get off your highorses and stop saying he was an innocent child, you don't know this. He was on suspension for something drug related, not that that is a reason he should have been shot, but common people wake up. George is not an innocent either, he followed this fellow, probably not intending to shoot him, but he still presued him which is wrong. If the youg people of this generation would only respect authority instead of mouthing back like punks this probably would not have happened. And for all you who say the George wasn't injured, he was treated at the scene, so no you would not see him covered in blood. Sheesh. It is an absolute tradgity what happend to both of these men. Just let justice take it's course all of you friggen armchair judges

    April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick©™

      meadowmuffin: George Zimmerman is NOT authority. I repeat, he is not. He isn't in law enforcement, he isn't a security guard. He isn't even uniformed. To Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman is a guy who stalked him and harrassed him. He probably should be scared because Zimmerman was carrying a gun. You talk about Zimmerman fearing for his life, why didn't you think about how Trayvon Martin felt when a stalker harrassing him was also carrying a gun?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • gettNreal

      WOW...talk about speculating....geesh! You're doing a pretty good job yourself, when you say "...probably not intending to shoot him." How do you know Zimmermans intent? Who's to say that he didn't have every intent to do harm, then try and cover it up? Who's to say that Zimmermans not the one who actually said, "you are going to die?"

      And, the "...respect authority instead of mouthing off..." thing is soooo way off base.
      Zimmerman never addressed himself as someone with authority, such as a Police Officer. So, what authority are you talking about, if it's just because he was an adult.....then that's baseless as well with all the young people attacked and accusted by supposedly "nice" adult figure all the time.

      And, just because he was "supposedly" treated at the sceen isn't any determination as to the validity of the extent of his injuries. Apparently, they didn't see a need to go to the hospital, where a doctor diagnoses, determines, and records what his injuries mean.

      So, pull your hair out all you want, but your comments are as baseless as the rest....

      April 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
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