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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Talk about showing younger pictures of Trayvon to throw people off??? First of all Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Peruvian, he IS NOT hispanic so stop trying to divide hispanics and blacks!

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

    where is my comment

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JUST SAY'N

    It is a sad day for all concerned, this should never of happened, but it did, and the police dept in Sanford, did not do their job they are provided to do. Everyone knows if it had been the other way around, and Trayvon, which he possibly was, defending himself and ended up shooting their buddy wanta be cop Zimmerman, he would not of even got a phone call, he would of been jailed so fast. That is another problem with all of this, that could be the case in anywhere USA, The fact that he will be charged is a good thing, 1being Trayvon would be alive today if he did not do what he did, 2) jail is probably the safest place for him right now, and a trial, whether he be found guilty or not, is probably going to save his life. The police dept did both of these people and injustice with their incompetence. It took only 35 min for them to leave the crime scene, body removed and Mr Zimmerman was home within an hour. That is a sad fact that they did mess up, they let him leave with all the evidence, clothing, I would be not suprised if they gave him his gun back... The Justice Dept should have that place under and investigation for the past 10 yrs, I am sure there are other cases there with a whole differnt scenario to them... His story did not make sense to many and after hearing the phone calls, it made less sense.. People have to realize this man has been free for more than a month stratgizing but also living life day to day as though he was vindicated and living life. People spend more time at the police station as witnesses being interrogated than he has spent and yet he took someones life. I hope everyone in this country can begin to understand the differences in equal justice, the inequalities of it and the power tripping ego mongers that are controlling our communities with not so level heads and start calling them on it when tradgedies happen. Not everything is in black and white but no one person or few should decide...There are big lessons for all to learn here as we are all of the same in the gist of everything. HUMANS

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • shut_up

      If trayvon had been in school instead of being a drug dealing, thief with ladies jewelry and not in the neighborhood of his dads girlfriend this would not have happened! nancy grace said he was at his dads condo?? i thought the girlfriend owned it not the leach living off of his girlfriend?????

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

      Bahahahahahahahahaha. Oh my god, my sides.

      You really believe this, don't you?

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

      if the state of florida has a law that says stand your ground then they should uphold the law and not be intimidated by black mob pressure. if they are not going to follow their own laws then they shouldn't be paid and either replace the city official or let the problem solve itself.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Davenger

    There are alot of scared white people buying guns these days. You can buy all the guns you want but you can't escape death, death comes to all of us, most of the time by surprise. You don't have to worry about me, I'm here only to assist your enemy when the time comes.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • nilknarfar

      Ok Davenger, no one is scared of you.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maggiemay

    Justice for Trayvon is all everyone wants.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.J

      There was justice. A man used reasonable and proportionate force to defend himself from being KILLED. Just suspend your natural sympathies and look at the facts objectively. By the way, I am an African American male, so don't you dare accuse me of being racist.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mob Justice

      Unfortunately, that's not what is happening here.

      I charge the Black community with racism. The -instant- something happened they don't like, they -immediately- trot out the race card. Moreover, they can't tell a Hispanic from a White... so how racist is that?

      I also bemoan the fact that society as a whole are so willing to bend to this b*****t 'Black Rage' phenomenon. The Blacks start screaming loud enough, they can force an arrest. Whereas if the Whites screamed about something?

      Oh.. right.

      They'd be called racist.

      -M. Justice

      April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The_NURSE

    God is merciful!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • rational

      how does God have anything to do with this? The most he is probably going to get charged with is manslaughter.. the prosecutor is an idiot if she charges him with more

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

    ugly is trayvon and all the idiots defending his sorry butt....if i see a kid that resembles him in my neighborhood hes getting a few rounds ..... boom boom boom.... trash

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • comeatmebro

      jeff–then you can share a cell with your hero, zimmy

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • MYEAH

      Boom boom boom with what? Your pretend big boy gun? Your mother took that away the other day when you didn't eat all your dinner remember? Give it a rest.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      My god your a idiot.

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

      You are a digusting person Jeff.....

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

      How hateful and ignorant you sound Jeff. It is people like you that are driving this country into the ground. You are basing your views on him the same way Mr Zimmerman did and look what it got him. Wonder when you will find yourself facing charges for making a rash judgment.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pepou27

      Zimmerman should be in jail. As soon as possible and stay there for the rest of his miserable life.

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

      And you will be in prison right besides Zimmerman.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff's worst nightmare

      Get from behind the keyboard with your punk a$$ and identify yourself like a man. It is always cowards like you that run their mouth, but when something goes down you are nowhere to be found. I am only going to tell you once to stop running your mouth or it might be your time to pay the piper

      April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roch

      So if I consider you to be ugly and you are in my neighborhood then I should kill you as well? Your logic is truly flawed.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • MsD

      Go ahead Jeff... do it.. because once you hit jail the trash is right where you will be... ignorant ass.

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

      Racism is alive and well in America. To all you devils, your number is 6 and you can't cross over to 7. Your 6,000 year rule is just about over. I don't pray that God have mercy on you. I pray that God gives you what you deserve.

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

      May God bless your soul!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      sir the fact that you make such statements is why America is the way it is

      April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kelly

    It's about time George Zimmerman got charged .. he should have been charged a long time ago,not this morning, and not time for him to disappear before JUSTICE prevailed .. my prayers and thoughts going out to the family who loss a beautiful child too early ... JUSTICE for young TRAYVON MARTIN .. May you REST In PEACE

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • rucus5

      you sound madd and racist

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • C-Money

      Zimmerman disepeard form the public Eye, and I don't blame him. with death threats and bounty's coming at him! you would do the same!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. C-Money

    A liberal Hispanic Democrat, shoots a 17 year old gangster wanna be, while he is on top of him bashing his head in. And some how it is the Republican White mans fault???? Don't get me wrong I Believe Trayvon Martin deserves a "FAIR TRIAL"! However, I don't believe that is even possible at this point !??

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • larry belyt

      My CMoney – Where you there to see his head bashed?? u must have peanuts for brains and other body parts.. secondly... if u were attacked by a crazed lunatic will you defend yourself or just sit there??? maybe u should have taken TM's place instead. pray for your lost soul.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lisa

    Zimmerman is criminally charged, someone explain to me what law he broke?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Involuntary Manslaughter?

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

      let's see lisa, possibly the murder law, 2nd or 3rd degree, maybe manslaughter, maybe stalking...etc.

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

      UH, SWEETHEART, DID YOU NOT HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT THIS CASE? MY DEAR LISA, HE TOOK A LIFE! IS THAT NOT A CRIME THESE DAYS, OR IS IT STILL OK TOM KILL BLACK PEOPLE WHENEVER THE HELL YOU FEEL LIKE IT? GET A CLUE!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • HangsHeadInShame

      He broke no law.
      He was legally carrying.
      He had every right to park and watch whatever wherever.
      We all have the right to approach anyone and ask them a question or two.
      none of the above gave Trayvon the right to attack and beat his questioner.
      This is just a sad mock trial being put on to satisfy the blood lust of a mob.
      'Justice"? hahahahahah.

      Committed no crime but yet lets drag the country thru two years of trial so the lawyers get rich.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      2nd degree murder

      April 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wisdom

      Lisa,

      Watch the news conference at 6 pm and you can hear the charges if there are any.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • mommabear

      homicide is a crime, stalking is a crime, chasing someone with a gun is a crime, but walking in the rain with a bag of skittles and an ice tea is not a crime

      April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • larry belyt

      This comment must be a joke. right?? If this were you kid would you be smiling? if u answer no, then u know u r kidding yourself. God never sleeps...judgment will fall on everyone.. God is not partial. Let me guess... you are a conservative bible belt christian.. right???

      April 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. comeatmebro

    I wonder if the aryans will protect this mule when he goes to prison

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Buriri

    Tribal behavior at its best. Today there will be dancing in the ghetto and when they acquit Zimmerman they will riot and burn just like in the past.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamacana

      I guess its no different than you at at your KKK lynching party,

      April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gary

    Well, he was 17 years old and likely had a part in at least a physical scuffle, but I know what you mean.

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

    Why is this headline news that gets 75% of CNN's attention, but the case of 12 naggers beating a tourist in Baltimore and stripping him naked while shouting racial slurs gets no attention whatsoever? Not even a single article?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian in dc

      Because without racism The Dems, and by extension CNN, have nothing.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Frank

    Whoa! Zimmerman is NOT Hispanic. He is American, his mother is Hispanic and his father is German! He was not raised in a Hispanic society, or a German society, only in an American society, living in an 80% Caucasian community. We Hispanics are not going to claim this dirt bag.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdfasdf

      Neither are we whites, "Frank" (nice Spanish sounding name)

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • shut_up

      looking at the size of trayvons nose, he must have been a BIG DUDE WITH A SMELLER LIKE THAT! HE DOESNT LOOK LIKE A 10 YEAR OLD LIKE CNN MAKES HIM OUT TO BE LOL

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

      Frank man, what in the hell are you talking about? You are what your parents are, you're just not from where your parents are from.

      Feels weird that I even had to write that.

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