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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Good, then everyone who has already judged Jorge without knowing the facts, will finally hear the truth, and he will be acquitted. Then riots will ensue. We will finally be able to shoot looters and claim the "stand my ground" clause.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ???

    I just like every time new news on this case come up, Trayvon gets older and Zimmerman looks cleaner.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Patriot Dude

    He'll probably be charged with littering.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rick S

    Zimmerman told to go back to his car as he did Tray whatever followed him and them jumped him. So far those are the facts. The kid got what he deserved. Zimmerman gave him lead instead of his wallet good return on investment.

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

      Dumbass.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      Rick, your facts are pretty messed up, actually.

      According to various phone call coversations and recordings, Zimmerman began following the boy after he was told not to be authorities. The boy noticed he was being followed and began to walk faster. Zimmerman persued–again, he was told NOT to do this. I don't know about you, but if someone is obviously following me around a neighborhood that isn't the best, I don't care what race they are, I get a little unnerved.

      Additionally, when the boy asked why he was being followed, this is where things get hazy. Witnesses say they heard what sounded like a teenager's voice calling for help. Then, the gunshot. Then, no more cries for help.

      In lieu of any other evidence (even the on and off again suggestion that Zimmerman was hurt–no one on scene saw injuries), this is leaning toward a charge of Murder or Manslaughter. And rightly so.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tim Lucas

    Thank Goodness!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    I feel terrible for Treyvon's family. And while I don't agree with the actions of Mr. Zimmerman, I feel for him and his family also. I believe that Bill Cosby nailed it; this is the result of a gun culture out of whack. And that's coming from someone who believes in gun rights. Where I live in Bend, Or we have people talking about these things on every story even remotely close in ways that seems like someone all hopped up on crack is defending their freedoms. Those are the very people I worry about; they have a legal right to own weapons; unfortunately, they don't have the common sense to see that not every situation that is presented is what it seems, and these people have proven that they don't care- shoot first, let god sort it out later. Well boys, it looks like god will be doing just that.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bergymand67

    Reblogged this on A Blog About Nothing.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. integrity777

    GOD IS IN ACTION!!! LORD OF ALL LORDS AND THE KING OF ALL KINGS!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JusticeForJustice

    Where were all of you angry "justice for somebody because of their skin color" people when an unarmed, black 16 year old named Raymond Carey was shot and killed by a security guard at the Mariner's Landing Apartments in Newport News, Virginia on December 11, 2005 in front of his mom and sister because his "music was too loud". Look it up and learn.

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

      Well, people did NOT know about this case. The Martins made an effort for their child to get the attention.

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

      The Raymond Cary case went to a Grand Jury, and they found there wasn't enough evidence to go forward with charges.
      If the idiots who are commenting on this story had their way, this wouldn't have gotten past the inept police investigation.
      Big difference.
      And in 2005, social media wasn't as prevalent as it is today. It will be very difficult for injustices to go unnoticed going forward.
      So try not to compare. Just look for justice.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan Robinson

    We are only captivated by the story, because it is all the media will talk about. yeah we are captivated, as in being held hostage from better news.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    All of this could have been avoided had the police dept. not devalued the life of Martin and played judge and jury and let Zimmerman walk free. We must also reminder Prosecutor Corey is dealing with after the fact evidence and can only make judgement from a judicial eye, so let's be patient and ask God to help us understand whatever is forthcoming.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Debby

    WEll they mut have the evidence to charge him with something. The black community will be doing Halleluah's tonight.

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

    he will never be found guilty just like oj was found not guilty. I will be dancing in the streets like the kneegros did at OJ's triial. I would love to be on that jury and let him walk for killing a punk thug who should have been in school. My fault little druggie was suspended. While daddy was visiting his fat white chick girlfriend instead of watching trayyyyvon.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      Wow. I hope someone you know falls victim to a crime like this. Hopefully a family member. I don't care if teh boy was suspended before... does that make it okay to follow him around a neighborhood and then shoot him?

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

      First of all, you should be ashamed of how you just described black people, only solidifying that racism is still an issue today. Secondly, just because they found a bag with marijuana traces, it doesn't mean that the kid was bad. There are plenty of people in our society who have smoked weed, smoke weed currently, or plan to smoke weed in the future. I know law enforcement personnel, professors, and other professionals who have all smoked in their day or who still recreationally smoke. So please, spare someone who lives in a cave the relation of smoking pot to automatically mean that person is a no-good "thug".

      April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Arlene

    I am so happy CNN fixed its boards so that people can't come out of the woodwork and spam all day. I called and called and emailed and emailed along with thousands of others.
    Happy that Zimmerman is being charged. I live on the west coast of FL and this BS is yet another embarassment to our state. Sigh.

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

    To All Zimmerman supporters:

    Take off you blinders, evidence speaks truth, you cannot make up six different versions of a story and think that the facts will back you up. Zimmerman is a liar and knew that he shot Trayvon in cold blood. His father could get him off these charges like the ones he committed in the past. The true Thug is Zimmerman and justice will be served when he is in prison and the prisoners get to him.

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