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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Did the pull the gold teeth before they buried him. If not, he still has some value

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

      My brother and his friend were being silly and posted a picture on facebook with gum wrapper foil on their teeth. They look very "thuggish." I wonder if people would see that and call him a thug. Even though he's now a mentor, a coach, and a teacher and one of the finest men I have ever known. It's a good thing we don't judge kids on single snap shots of their life...

      April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    Charges being brought! Kudos CNN – nice work!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. comeatmebro

    jesse= internet tough guy, real life heomoe

    April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Buriri

    What surprises me is that in the ghetto, when they shooter is black and the victim black or white, the community refuses to cooperate with the police in search of "justice". However, if the shooter happens not to be black, then there is a strong cry of justice. I guess, they want to have exclusive rights to shooting people.

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

      What surprises me is how many people, like yourself, don't know what the word ghetto means.

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

      You are so right that this country has only one stanard and that is if your Black you can do no wrong

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

      Your statement is a flat out lie and dishonest... you loosely use the term ghetto in an attempt to slander black people, which is not only racist but sad. However, in the black community, you will find that humans will fight for justice in their neighborhoods, just like in any other community. Why would anyone want to see a killer get away with murder?. You seem to be watching to many movies and listening to news reports that target this so-called snitching, and for you to suggest that all blacks follow this way of thinking only highlights your ignorance.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • thisisdumb

      i agree 100%.....you always hear the "Stop Snitchin" calls......but now everybody is begging for someone to go to jail regardless what the truth is......this whole case is ridiculous and dumb......and people jump on any chance to ACT as if they are a part of something.....this whole thing is nothing but a race debate created by ignorance!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaylynne

      Living in Duval County, where Ms. Corey is the State Attorney for the judicial circuit... it amazes me how much attention is being wasted on this case. We see homicides in this area every few days, in fact, four in the past eight days. However, there is no national coverage of those. More specifically, what about the homicide cases that go cold, where the victim is black, the potential suspect (who witnesses saw but refuse to identify) is also black, but due to social disorganization and their "no snitching" philosophy, there is no "justice". This case is flat out ridiculous. If charges come to Mr. Zimmerman, let us hope he can gain enough bearing to assist his defense counsel. If charges are not brought on... let's move on to something far more newsworthy.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • OhWow!!!

      The thing that scares me the most about the racist comments that some of you are putting on here is that you may work in the same office as I do. Your kids may go to the same school my kids go to. You could spill all of your hate on a website but smile at that same race of people in person. The main reason why is simple: you know for a fact that it's wrong and it don;t make a lick of sense. I'm so tired of all of this black/white/ hispanic crap coming from some of you sad and disturbed individuals. A human being shot another human being. LEAVE IT AT THAT.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian Flanagan

    Timothy you moron, the kid is 17....not 12, learn how to read. Not defending Zimmerman, he is an idiot but get your facts straight.

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

    the white boy never had a chance!

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

      Show a current pic of him 17 years old....not a pic of him 12 years old. Keep it real media!!!

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

      I am so happy Hispanic folks are now white. Zimmerman now charged....modern day lynch mob?

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

      oh now he is white, i thought he was hispanic

      April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ThePastaSauce

    Sounds like the prosecutor took the bait – now there will be fires from Miami to Los Angeles if Zimmerman is acquitted....

    April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    It is about time. Zimmerman stalked Martin, hunted him, and then shot him. At a minimum Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter, perhaps murder.

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

      The only way it could be self defence is if Trevor tried to jack Zimmermans car. Zimmerman was in his car and went after him!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lavonna

    I think he deserve to be charged. It really shouldnt have caused all these marches and actions to finally bring a truth of justice to this case. Trayvon was a unharmless person and he shouldnt have commited this crime to this young man. Trayvon parents are gonna be hurt for da rest of life because of not being able to hear theres son's voice, see him, or even beable to see him recieve his degree or diploma. WHy would zimmerman want to harm this young man?

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

      Your high school English teacher just called and she woudl like for you to return to school.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. l.j. king

    Brooke, I don't need your opinions. I am still waiting on the facts to come out. I watch more news than most and I still have no idea the facts of the case so expressing opinions must mean CNN has an agenda. Please bring Ted Turner back.

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

      Thanks! I am right there with you. Still waiting for the facts. Also, what exactly is a "senior law enforcement source familiar with Martin case". That is not official. Why doesn't CNN simply wait for the prosecutor come out and say, rather than feed speculation.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    Hey Timothy,

    FYI Trayvon was 17 not 12. The media is sensationalizing the age by using a picture of him when he was 12. They are arresting him simply to shut up the hordes of nut cases out there looking for an excuse to attack white people. They act like we're the bigoted ones all the while saying and acting even more bigoted than any white person I've ever known. They scream loudly to get their way.

    When the facts come out and they realize they have no real grounds to prosecute, Zimmerman will be set free and have to go into hiding, and the hordes will use it as an excuse to riot. Don't do it in my neighborhood, you WILL make the news I promise. Of course then again, these violent idiots in the NBPP, NAACP, and the bigotted blacks in Hollywood might just raise a big enough stink to get an innocent man thrown behind bars just so they can say they got their way.

    This whole thing is ridiculous. Where is the outrage when the black commit crimes against other races. Hell some of those even caught on tape screaming racial slurs. But yet somehow that's never more than a 4 second blip on the local news, and it's never called a HATE crime even though more often than not when it's black on white crime it is racially motivated.

    It amazes me how many of you idiots think only white people are racist.

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

      Jeff, you're too correct. I'm gonna have to stop asking you to make sense, blame white people for everything that happens to black people, and when something happens to a black person, give them compensation because their people were once slaves.

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

      And in other news, thousands die in Syria and blacks don't poor outcry to them...

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

      Jeff, Get over it.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      Jeff – It's obvious you have made up your mind. You don't know the facts... none of us really do, but you're judging already. The truth will come out. It always does. Zimmerman did not have to shoot this young man!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • HelpUsLord

      As a black person, I don't see this as a racial issue. I simply don't understand why Zimmerman was not arrested when he stalked the young man, refused the police's order to stop following him, and then shot him. I don't care if Zimmerman and Trayvon were black, orange, lilac, or whatever color, Zimmerman deserved to be arrested.

      If Trayvon was your child, how would you want his death to be handled (IN ALL SINCERITY, CAN SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER? By the way, I think it is wrong for the New Black Panthers to put out a "bounty" for Zimmerman, and I do believe the black community cries "wolf" much too often. I pray God blesses us all.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nicolleali

    the unfortunate part is zimmerman wont get a fair trial. dont get me wrong i firmly believe he is 100% guilty but considering the medias play in this case whatever decision is made will obviously be swayed by politics and blamed on the race aspect.

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

      Why wouldn't he get a fair trial! We all knew Casey Athony was guilty she seemed to make out well! I just hope justice is served!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George

    Im sick of the whiny lazy blacks that live off welfare getting preferential treatment. If they don't get their way they automatically cry racism. They themselves are the actual racist and nazis of today.

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

      Bigot!

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

      @ George, get your facts straight, more lazy white people are on welfare! Don't get it twisted! Racism is out and in the forefront know matter what anyone says, it will always be, it never went away! It is what it is! Let's not act like this is one case that is clearly a case of racism, please let's just be real! Trayvon was targeted because he was young, wearing a hoodie and black and George was looking out for anyone black walking through that neighborhood because they say crimes were committed there recently and they all involved young black men. It's just sad that someone had to die by the hands of this so-called watchman, who had no business carrying a gun and if you carry a gun, you are looking to shoot or be shot, plain and simple!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. toya04

    Yesssssss!!!!if u racist are mad now, i can only imagine how u gonna feel in nov when obama is re-elected.....hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. YUP

    about time, it will be better for him to go this route, not everyone will be happy, but normal people will be happy when the case is presented and a jury can decide

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