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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    The more I think about this the more I believe the Attorneys knew George was going to get charged and Zimmerman decided he wanted to run because he felt like he wouldn't get a fair trial. This is all a setup. I stand corrected if I am wrong. But this is my hunch. He had time to run and disappear. Assuming this is the case.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Observer

    These "charges" are only being mentioned to try to stop the unwarranted hysteria.

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

      that is the most ridiculous observation ever...talk about a temporary solution and and result would be even more anger

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

    It does not matter he shouldn't have had to run dammit, ya'll just don't get it!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • chelle52370

      No, he shouldn't have had to run because he should've been in jail to begin with.

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

      Running is the reaction of the guilty when simply asked, "what are you doing here"

      April 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. svatoid

    For punishment, one of his close relatives should be stalked and murdered while Zimmerman is forced to watch.

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

      I hope you die at the hands of your best friend.

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

      You're a real moron. Sure, kill someone else that is innocent, just to punish another person, j@ck@$$.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. darrell

    Another victory for The Bullies. Very bad precedent. Expect more violent Occupies. They have been emboldened. Thanks,Obama. Thanks, Holder. And special thanks to those other fine Americans, The NBPP , who protect our polling places.

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

      It's going to be great when Zimmerman pays for his crime.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ayyo

    just because the media choses to only show pictures of Trayvon when he was 12 doesn't mean he is a child, if he had shot Zimmerman he would have been charged as an adult...

    April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. coastlinecascot

    I would like to know when the fine african american crowd attacked the poor white guy in baltimoore and filmed it going to be arrested?

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

      No kidding. I made that same point on another news blog earlier. It doesn't count if you are assaulted an white. Sorry...

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

      What does that have to do with this specific incident, moron.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hank A.

      Yea, I wonder if the thugs in Baltimore also would "look like my son, if I had one" -Obama

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

      Those people will be charged and some have already been identified. But it didn't take a nationwide campaign months to even get an investigation into that case. Do us all a favor and stick your head right back up your hind-side.

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

    I just saw on CNN where a white guy was beaten, robbed and striped of his clothes by black people, looks like a hate crime to me, Where is Jessie Jackson-No where to be found because he is Rasict. !!!

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

      Jesse wouldn't get any face time on TV for that so he's probably not interested. Besides, it doesn't fit into his motif of keeping the "civli rights" movement alive (his main source of income).

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

      I saw that video and I agree that that was an awful thing and quite possibly racist as well. But you can never hold any public figure responsible to speak out for every single wrong doing. That is why when you feel strongly about wrongful acts then you should go out and speak up for what you feel was wrong. WE have to become the chage that we want to see. Thats is why soooo many people are marching for Trayvons case. They are marching for what they feel strongly about and trust me they will keep marching with or without Jessie or Al.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JPArizona

    I am glad he is finally being charged. If anyone was acting in self-defense it was Trayvon. Kids now-a-days are warned about crazy people out there and this adult was following him in a car. Trayvon had no idea whether he was going to be a victum of kidnapping or worse.

    The police told Zimmerman to leave him alone and he ignored it. Throw him in prison and file suit against the police department that did not do their job.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ok Listen up Black People

    Stop being ignorant thugs and we wont have to shirt first

    April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roger Smith

    a lot of you are not looking at the source of this story. just like everyone news organization repeated the docotored NBC 911 tapes without checking.

    the source of this story is pretty shady. and if they know there will be charges how come they dont know what charges/

    i have a feeling the shady reporter is taking a career gamble as the one who broke the story. 50/50 chance they might be right.

    Sari Horwitz, a longtime Post investigative reporter, was suspended for three months for plagiarizing sections of stories that first appeared in the Arizona Republic.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. holdem

    Charges will be filed in order to prevent rioting and looting by Trayvon supporters.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marie

    No Bush already did that!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. KBell

    Let’s all be truthful and clear. However this turns out a young man was killed because someone put himself in a roll he was not qualified to be in and could not handle. He felt that Martin was a thug, up to no good or on drugs because he was unknown to him and wearing a hoodie. This is called profiling. He made further mistakes by following this young man. This would aggravate anyone on this post. Some would run to try to get away; some would turn and confront him. I don’t have the facts on what happened so I refuse to guess, I wasn’t there. I will say that if he (Zimmerman) had stopped at the call to 911 and followed instructions not to follow him (Martin), a young man would have made it home safely and still be alive to talk about and correct all the mistakes he is being crucified for.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • chelle52370

      Well said, KBell. Although the media has tried to muddy the waters, and people have made incredible leaps in logic and reason, the fact is, Zimmerman was told to stand down and did not. He took it on himself to follow Martin around. According to the "Stand Your Ground" defense, Martin actually had every right to protect himself from the man stalking him by using force. Zimmerman had no cause to use that law in his own defense. But the law has been misinterpreted to somehow defend Zimmerman's unlawful use of a firearm rather than as a defense for someone who's being followed by an armed individual. Bottom line, someone's child is DEAD. For no reason at all.

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

      Smartest post i have seen in 44 days

      April 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Letmesaythis

    Thank God!!

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