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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    If he's charged I hope it's because the EVIDENCE proves he's guiltly not because a riot is feared.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • JaxGirl

      Seriously, Zimmerman's story about what happened is a joke.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafee

      true, it's a shame the PD failed heavy on collecting any type of evidence.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JOOJOOBEANS

    I dont know why people so willing to claim this to be racism, so sad people want to go off something so stupid.

    The cause of this murder was by pure stupidity.

    Racism is something made up by uneducated fools, and spreading this hatred makes you no better than the people who created slavery. I am sure having a gathering of black people and shouting racism is really stopping it from happening? more like provoking everyone to hate people more.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • AskNot!!!

      It's quite obvious that you have not experienced a white women clutching her purse the moment you step on a elevator. How about security following you in the dept store, or not even being asked you need help simply because of your color. Until your able to walk in my shoes, you will not understand. I don't know if George Zimmerman is a racist, I do know that as someone that possessed a license to carry a concealed weapon he didn't not use good judgement.

      Trayvon had the right to Stand his Ground against a man that had been following him that night, against a man that got out his truck and approached him, with the words, "What are You doing here" in a tone I am sure wasn't friendly considering, George thought he was high and up to no good.... the rest will never know...

      April 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh NO

      AskNot, I was born and raised in a big city and I clutch my handbag close to me no matter what color the person in the elevator is and especially if they are wearing their hoodie, hood up, inside a building. Yes, I profile and if you don't want your youngsters to be profiled you need to teach them that it isn't polite to wear a hooded sweatshirt, hood up, in the presence of a woman or inside a building or house of God. Also, please teach them to keep their hands out of their pockets, keep their pants up and stand up straight so they don't give the appearance of being a thug up to no good. It's a matter of pride and self respect, not racial. I've been spit on in our Nation's Capital by a person of color and my only crime was to walk past him on my way to work. My bi-racial grandchildren were not accepted by the children in the predominantly black school they once attended because of the color of their skin. Your children introduced my innocent grandchildren to racism. My grandchildren were color blind until they met yours. My grandchildren would be in drug rehab if they got caught with drugs of any kind and not out on the street buying ice tea and skittles and talking on their cell phones. So, walk a mile in my shoes so you understand why I'm very sure that young Treyvon was not innocent in all of this and I'm certain the "facts" will show that he was the aggressor out looking for trouble. Finally and just as important, where did this kid get money to buy pot!!?? He obviously was selling it to other peoples children and perhaps even selling it for his parents. There is a whole lot more to this story but to target and terrorize innocent whites, as is being done across the country, is very telling of where racism actually resides.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. tampamike

    wow, he was just a kid getting skittles and tea and you can say that? what kind of monster are you?

    April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herman Cain

      Wrong fool, he was a six foot three football playing thug that chased George back to his truck and jumped him. One less thug around and he sends a good warning to any other thugs in FL

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

      He was a 140 pound kid. I guess the color of his skin is what makes him a thug?!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      herman why was he outside of his truck (though he had every right to be)-just like mr martin had every right to be where he was, and if this football playing thug was chasing him why run away if you have a gun and you feel you are in danger? because it didn't happen

      April 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Herman Cain was a joke in the Presidential race and you're an even bigger joke. Trayvon weighed 140 lbs, stop getting your news from Rush & Fox...

      April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. justice2012

    Justice Justice

    April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • mllyjustnot

      Justice. Please define justice. I am so sick and tired of black people claiming no justice simply because they are black.

      News flash: Justice comes in one color–green.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chuck

    She has to charge him with something otherwise the New Black Panthers will put a bounty on her head. She has no choice in the matter..

    April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erica

      Actually, Corey is well known for NOT bowing to public pressure. If she brings charges, I'm confident it's because the evidence warrants charges. Her record shows that she prosecutes based on whether the crime warrants prosecution, not on whether the chances are high that she will win.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Maria

    Screw you nancybrad. Your ignorance is disgusting.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BEM684

    The media has convicted this guy whether he deserves it or not. There are many details to this case and the press just wants to paint him as a racist for the purpose of stirring up interest.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JaxGirl

      That is why we have a justice system... let the process begin.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      that's what you got out of it, i've seen him as a coward from day one

      April 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dave

    Even if he is innocent, they will sue him for civil rights violations and ruin his life. This government will do anything to appease the masses. The race war is inevitable.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JaxGirl

      He ruined his own life!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • handytoo

      Well Dave ... if this is so... then why dont we all meet at a football stadium and get it on.
      I will see you on the battle field son !!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob vincent

      JAXGIRL = HUGE RACIST

      April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave too

      Dave, you obviously don't have much faith in your country or or legal system. But I have to say, I like your response Handy Too. .

      April 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cindy

    He almost has to be charged otherwise the town will erupt in riots and Zimmerman will be killed within 24 hours of his release. At this point, he's safer on the inside than out.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Yeah they will indict Zimmy

    Yeah of course they will INDICT Zimmerman....the local/state/national officials know if they don't there will be RIOTS in the street...My question is....where are Jessie Jackson & Al Sharpton when BLACK people kill WHITE people ?????
    The indictment is coming..........

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      You don't see Jesse or AL defening white people because white people have the justice system to stand up for them when they are wronged. This country has a history where people like Zimmerman have killed black people and have gotten away with it. That's why people cheered when OJ got off. Finally, a black man got off in the same system that has always allowed white people to get away with their crimes against blacks

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JaxGirl

      Where are you when white people EAT people... ijs, trying to sound as stupid as you are.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • AskNot!!!

      Ignorance at it's best, give me incident were there was an injustice done, when a Black man murdered a White man or women and they were not charged. Al Sharpton and Jeese Jackson are a voice against injustice. White people have there voice it's called the legal system. If you don't believe me ask the many Black men that are now free after spending years in person for a crime that they did not do.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike

    CNN, L.Z., NBC, all you idiots who fanned the flames of racism are responsible for every single white guy who has now been randomly attacked due to your propaganda. Obama wants to racially divide this country.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saudia

      Mike – clue into reality for a minute, OUR President is not now nor has he ever "racially divided this country". You are allowed to be as hateful as you want, but be truthful about your hate with facts. With regard to your comment "...every single white guy who has now been randomly attacked..." – you know that is an untrue statement, why embarrass yourself with lies? Lean towards the truth – lies do not impress.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • JaxGirl

      That plank in your eye is blinding me. Lol.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • somone with some sense

      Q: When has this country EVER been racially undivided???? A: NEVER Q: Do you know how often black people have been killed by racist white people??? A: Everyday Q: What does any of this have to do with Obama? A: NOTHING. You seem very uneducated perhaps you should listen to Tim Wise's "Between Barack and a Hard Place". Educate yourself before you get on blogs, sounding so uneducated.

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

    NancyBrad, we love you too.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Spewin' The Magic

    I got a great big who give a rats ass goin' on

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Let me show ya somethin

      Then why did you bother coming on here to comment if you don't care?

      April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lila

    He'll probably be charged with manslaughter. He may get more charges because he pursued and had an altercation with a minor too.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Treyvon Prince

    Nancybrad you look just like how u sound, white trash. Why am I wasting energy on you anyway. You need to go take a bath, big fat pig.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
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