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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    We dont know the facts, one that we do is that Zimmerman was asked to not follow. He did anyway.

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

    THANK YOU but I will believe when I see it.

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

    Hopefully Zimm will be aquited as did Casey Anthony. After all the misinformation from the media and the racist black leaders and race baiters.

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

      Race-baiters such as yourself?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • dpgeorge64@gmail.com

      Anonymous U R a coward 2

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

      As usual........it is black and white!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. timetosaynext

    Well look at thos APPLES... The MURDERER will be CHARGED!!!

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

    As a black man, I love all the racism that is being shown. And here's why: Since 2008 closet racists have been jumping out quicker than gays. People are taking their phony masks off and really showing who they are. In a non-confrontational way, I actually appreciate seeing people reveal their true characters. The other thing is, I'm so sick and tired of the comments saying "Look, obviously this country isn't racist anymore. We have a black president." It's a subtle way of telling black people to stop complaining about actual injustices. There's this unwritten rule that unless the N word is used, we're being overly sensitive. So I welcome the open hate. Show the world the nastiness you poorly tried to hide.

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

      Just sick and tired of getting race card shoved in our faces day in and day out.

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

      Well you should be happy as a black man you got what you wanted, but then again when the race card is played you people always get what you want.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • sparty7

      @Debby: You think that only blacks were seeking justice in this case? Your ignorance is profound and quite disturbing!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • dbrooks602

      I agree 100% with what you said. These people are coming out the closet, i mean look at what the people comment on here. It's obvious all the negative comments are under cover rascist. Dont get mad and say "blacks are too sensitive". It's just that "blacks" are exposing all the under cover rascist. Show the world your true colors and that is exactly what you are doing. THANKS!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debby

      Again Sparty7 who was responsible for all these protestors, rallies, bounties on Zimm. head. it was the black community so take your disgusting rant and share the facts and not everyone saying that this brings out closet racists. Well maybe it does for the black community against whites since this was spewed by the parents as a racialy committed murder and the media making it a white/black hate crime.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Callen

    A lot of people keep saying that if the police had done their job....... I personally think they did do their job. They saw from the beginning that the evidence they have shows that Zimmerman was attacked by a 17 year old that he was following and when Zimmerman found himself being on the loosing end of the fight he became afraid for his life and shot the 17 year old. Sorry people but with that evidence, and that is all the evidence they have, Zimmerman was within the law. Might not seem fair to some but it is the law.

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

      It's the law....for now.

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

      Zimmerman initiated the confrontation, Martin was acting in full self defence that is when Zimmerman shot and killed him. Sorry, Zimmerman did not acted in self defence.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boytjie

      So a man in a car is attacked by teenager walking in the street?
      Either he was too stupid to lock his doors and close his windows or he got out or the car an pursued the teenager (after the police told him not to do it).

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

    If, in fact he gets charged I hope that I'm on the jury. He will walk.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. betty

    I am sick and tired of this news, but I dare those reporters. Anderson Cooper, Wolf and Pierre to show the tourist that attacked by the black youths for a change, I guess they are too chicken even to mention it.

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

      I so agree with you Betty.

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

      Betty – did Trayvon himself attack a tourist? If so, please show proof. If not, your line of thought is irrelevant.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James Graham

    I remember reading about the children of Israel who turned from God time and time again, only to realize their mistake
    and pray for forgiveness. Each time, God would forgive them
    and they would walk with him for a time. So, I am going to
    ask you to join me in praying for our nation every day..
    Please read the email below. God is in control.

    May God Have Mercy On America ; Protect Our Troops

    In Atlanta recently, there were signs in people's yards
    that said, " America , prayer is our only hope" – with
    2 Chronicles 7:14 underneath.. We certainly need God's help!

    I have no idea who started this, but I certainly agree with
    this e-mail. I heard a preacher on TV who said if we pray for our nation things will turn around.

    After a day of contemplation and soul searching, I have
    decided to reach out to my friends and relatives and ask
    you to do something that has been troubling me for a long time.

    Our nation is/has been on the slippery slope for a long time.
    If you look around you will find corruption, greed, moral
    decay, and a steady move away from the things that made us great. The principles upon which this nation was founded are
    no longer our backbone. However, we can reverse this trend.

    2 Chronicles. 7:14 in God's Word, He states,
    "If my people who are called by my name
    will humble themselves and pray
    and seek my face and turn from their
    wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven
    and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

    I am convinced that we must pray for our nation and its
    leaders and ask for forgiveness. So I ask you to join me
    in this plea to our Lord..

    Would you please send this to people in your address book?
    Ask them to pray EVERY DAY. (25 to the 5th power is 9,765,625 people.) IMAGINE if each person reaches
    TEN others... Or all TWENTY FIVE!

    If you do and they comply, we will lift up millions and millions
    of prayers a day to our Creator. He will hear us, and in faith
    will answer.

    Here's a quote from Ronald Reagan:
    "If we ever forget that we are one nation under God,
    then we will be a nation gone under."

    I truly believe this is why the United States of America is
    in the shape it's in today.

    Most people have forgotten that we are ONE NATION UNDER GOD! Let us as Christians stand up and remind people of this.

    Christians, the Lord is about to work within us, be ready to take a stand for him.
    STAND UP FOR JESUS! Keep your eyes and ears open through next year.

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

      Let us trust in God because he makes no mistakes it is time to face the nation on racism for far too long we have allowed such explict behavior to pleage our community we must stand and support what is right Trayvon could have been the son of anyone of us, and for all of you that feel as if its ok to kill a child God have mercy on your sole!!

      Where is your White Hood and Cape I'm sure its in your closet under that Hate crime book that you own!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    How is he an African-American, He's not even from Africa!!!

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

      John – GREAT POINT! He is American and nothing more (or less).

      April 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tee

    Jeff, you are a very sick person. GOD help you.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MCM

    Let me tell you how this is going to go down step by step:
    1. Guy gets charged because the State government is feeling the heat.
    2. Media attention wears down because we have the attention span of a toddler and trials take months to convene.
    3. Prosecutor can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting was NOT in self defense.
    4. Not guilty.

    Getting charged does not equal guilt people.

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

      MCM – you are probably right, he will not be found guilty. But, his life is ruined, as it should be. He took a life after being told not to follow Trauvon. He has a history of not listening when he is told something he does not want to hear. Just ask his lawyers that dropped him. He didn't follow their advice, either. A man with known anger issues and a history of doing as he pleases....I personally am glad his life has been turned upside down. Small sacrifice after one has committed murder.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sharon

    It's about time, what is the hold up !!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ronindavid

    Good, this needs to go to trial so he can be found either guilty or innocent and people can go on with their lives. Very tired of seeing this same story over and over and over again when so many Americans are suffering from no work, healthcare, and just no hope in general.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    See... the way you separate You People and We People, you make it seem like there is a difference which means that you are separating races and you are racist.

    I am European, and I consider White, Black, Red, Yellow or whatever color you are to be all the same (HUMAN). We are all the same species and should not talk about white, black or any other.

    So, why are you saying "TO THE ANGRY WHITE PEOPLE... WE DON'T CARE IF YOU LIKE US BUT GOD DOES....". Instead, you should just say "TO THE ANGRY PEOPLE...". You, by using white and then separating yourself as "WE" makes you a racist

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