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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. wazuri77

    Self-defense, or what lawyers properly call “justification,” can’t be reasonably claimed by aggressors, especially aggressors like Zimmerman who follow a person, confront that person, outweigh that person, and outgun that person by possessing a high-powered firearm compared to Skittles and iced tea.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ArmedAmerican

    He'll get let off anyway as he should.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. no name

    oh now they do it....better late then never I suppose...the criminal justice system of the USA needs an investigation too!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jet5

    Funny how the picture everyone's using of Zimmerman changed.

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

      authorities were just afraid of riots
      the thug is dead
      case closed

      April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dwp19542004

    i think we should go down to fl with about 50 bombs and have some fun

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

      You can be pretty sure that you just got on Homeland Security's watch list.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tpuck82

    I agree with Kathleen

    April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Wolf8161

    Zimmerman will be used as a sacrifical goat to appease the masses. No one in their right mind will convict him. The Martin family will scream cover-up, make their kid into a martyr and file a lawsuit and sue anyone with two nickels to rub together irregardless of whatever the evidence shows and at the end of the day.................life goes on (for the rest of us).
    Sometimes people bring things on themselves..............and they pay for it. Doesn't make them someone's innocent little kid....................just makes them accountable for their actions and sometimes it's a high price to pay.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • another1

      Yes, and Zimmerman should be held accountable for chasing down and murdering Trayvon. Zimmerman instigated the altercation, chasing after Trayvon for no reason other than he had a gun and wanted to feel powerful. Shame on Zimemrman and shame on all the racists here who think a life is worth nothing.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel in California

    It's ABOUT friggin TIME! You ALL know if this had been reversed and the Black guy shot and killed the white/hispanic guy... he'd have been in jail awaiting trial within 24 hours. This was murder plain and simple.

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

      Nonsense – there have been black flash mob violence against whites where the perps haven't been arrested and the media tries to hide these stories.

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

      Were you there? Didn't think so....let due process take its course. The court of public opinion doesn't matter....only a court of law does.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      There is NO SUCH THING as a white hispanic. You are either White or you are Hispanic. White/Hispanic was made up by the media to make this a racial crime.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GhostColin

    He's going to be charged by the Fashion Police for that horrible red jacket he's wearing in the video.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ten

    Investigate the police !!!!!!!!!!

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

    If you assault me you better make sure I'm not carrying.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • another1

      Do you often go chasing after innocent people in the rain with a gun?

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

      If you stalk me in the dark you better be sure I'm not carrying, either.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rollin Eyes

    Matthew 7:1-2

    You'll all have your turn, but judgement without facts is simply playing the victim (race) card. Rise above, leave the thug life behind, and maybe equality will follow. Race is not the issue at hand, culture is. Play with the junk yard dogs and you're likely to get bitten... A life is taken, it's unfortunate. Regardless, there are only 3 who know what occurred that eve and two of them aren't talking.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mikeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    it's the legal system not the justice system

    April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Will

    They are just doing this to meet public demand and prevent all the civil disobedience that would ensue if charges were not filed. However, this is not going to change the fact that the law of the land in Florida still upholds "stand your ground" Law. That will stand.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wolf8161

      I totally agree. Charges had to be filed no matter what. This is just to minimize the rioting that WILL occur and the put off the blame that the Martin family is going to spread around like manure.
      Everyone will be to blame but their kid.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      Exactly!!! Which is a bunch of crap!!! Since when does the public get to decide who gets charged and who doesn't. What about that white guy who got beat, robbed and stripped of his clothes by a group of black people in Baltimore? Sure he didn't die, but he was just standing there minding his own business and was attacked and robbed for this pack of neanderthals amusement, a video exists and still no one has been arrested. Zimmerman was protecting himself from this young punk who was banging his head against the ground. I would have shot him also.

      But we all know that black on white hate crimes never happen. And that incident in Baltimore was just a bunch of kids who had a bad upbringing and no daddy. What else can we expect from them?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JB

    Now I guess all the darkies on Ted Turner's plantation will be celebrating.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:17 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