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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Obama will be voted out of office in November as result of this incident.

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

      Not to mention all the other things he has done to divide and f&%* up our country...

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

      You blame President Obama for everything, he's only the President. He not the reason everything in your world is not working. That your problem. Now if you don't vote for him, get ready for the Hunger Games! The otherside is going to cut all the lifelines and then its going to get real crazy! If you don't think so, look how they vote....That's your clue.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. luvlar

    Martin was a wana be thug who was found with jewlery and a screw driver in his backpack. This punk was already breaking into houses. Wouldn't have been long before he was in prison leaving two or three single teenage welfare mothers behind.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      Oh, he was not! The jewelry in the backpack thing is hearsay from months ago. He didn't even have a backpack with him. If you can't hide your blatant racism then at least don't try to justify it with lies.

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

      SHut up and go get your sheets out of the cleaners idoit. The only Thug is Zimmerman and he has a record far worst than that teen. idoit.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALICE

      REGARDLESS OF WHAT A PERSON'S PAST MAY OR MAY NOT BE....IT STILL STANDS NOOOO MATTER THE RACE, GREED OR COLOR...NNOOOOO ONE DESERVES TO BE SHOT, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE UNARMED.....ZIMMERMAN WAS TOLD TO WALK AWAY AND HE DIDN'T...STATING TO THE 911 OPERATOR THAT (BLACKS) ALWAYS GET AWAY WITH STUFF.... IT'S CLEAR TO ME THAT HE WAS CLEARLY LOOKING AND ASKING FOR TROUBLE....MARTIN WAS SCREAMING FOR HIS LIFE AND FOR HELP....THEN (((((POW)))))) IS ALL YOU HEAR AFTER ALL THE SCREAMS AND CRIES FOR HELP STOP.....IT WAS NOT BY NO MEANS ......JUSTIFIED.....FOR ZIMMERMAN TO SHOOT MARTIN, HE (ZIMMERMAN) HAD THE CHOICE TO WALK AWAY, BUT IN STEAD HE MADE THE CHOICE TO CONFRONT & TO SHOOT MARTIN......WHY WOULD YOU SAY HE (MARTIN) WAS A WANNA BE THUG??! WHY, CAUSE OF THE HOODIE HE WORE???..... FACTS NEEDS TO BE SPOKEN HERE AND NOT JUDGMENTS, ON THE POSSIBILITIES OF WHAT MARTIN'S CHARACTER MAY OR MAY NOT BE. AN INNOCENT LIFE WAS TAKEN, BY SOMEONE THAT WAS OUT LOOKING FOR SOME ACTION. THIS ISSUE HAS NOT JUST UPSET THE AFRICAN AMERICANS, IT HAS UPSET OUR WHOLE NATION....ALL COLORS, ALL CREEDS & NATIONALITIES....THIS IS A MORAL THING NOT A COLOR OR RACE THING....OR THE CHARACTER OF A PERSON'S PAST NOR PRESENT.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ceg

      That's absolutely false. Get the facts and tell the truth, thugs don't use screw drivers to break in houses! Duh! You watch too much TV. You sound just like an amateur..LOL Shutup!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. t3chsupport

    Phew, good. At least give the man a trial. All of the people saying you 'don't put an innocent man on trial' and 'innocent people don't need lawyers' obviously have no idea what a trial is for. A trial is the only way to put any of this to rest.

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

      hopefully zimmerman will get plenty of rest in jail

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

      Then we can only hope that one day you get to foot the bill for legal fees when you feel you have done no wrong.

      Karma.

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

      A trail is needed anytime that a person dies in my mind "self-defense" is good and all but you still should have to prove deadly force. If Zimmerman is charged(seems that way) then i hope Martins family can get closure, even thou it will be up to a Jury and we all know how Juries in Florida can be.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Big B

    Way to Go Ms. Corey !! u kill u go to jail simple as that

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

      Do you really think if this was reversed and Martin killed zimmerman, he would have the same problems as Zimmerman. I can tell you he wouldnt. Look at the black kids that killed the guy a few weeks ago, have you heard as much about that case???????

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

    Regardless of if Trayvon was 12 or 17 he is DEAD and for no reason. Point blank. Zimmerman was not defending himself when he followed Trayvon. And IF, Zimmerman has bruises or cuts its because Trayon fought back from his aggressor. It should also be made clear, Trayvon was found face down, shot from behind. So much for self defense on Zimmermans part.

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

      There is almost no truth in anything you said here. Way to go.

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

      I hope some little thug comes to your neighborhood and robs you. Neighborhood watch is there for a reason, just like parents are supposed to be watching their little hoodlums.

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

      You don't know that Zimmerman received bruises and cuts because Trayvon was fitting back against an aggressor. Besides the witness says to the contrary.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yup

      I have been following comments for this story for weeks and I really don't care either way, but this is the first comment that has actually made any sense.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jack black

    LOL at this trial. pot smoking kid get suspended from school, walks around gated community. Jumps on Zimmerman and shot dead. Zimmerman who was on neighborhood watch (with gun...) shot him dead.
    Sad for Martin's parents but kid was a pot smoking troublemaker who was suspended multiple times.
    Also why the hell copyright kids name? I'm guessing they want some $$ from public.
    Not against or with zimmerman or martin. It is sad this event became so big compare to other criminal racial crimes.

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

      Jack, your very simplistic and untrue synopsis of the facts (as known so far) indicate that you are rather against Martin.

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

      lets kill all the pot smokers!!!! then lets go after rednecks

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

      Idiot, what if it was your kid? Doesn't matter if he was suspended from school, or smoked. Look at Zimmerman's past! No one rather they be black, white, asian, 17 or 100 deserves to be shot and killed they way this child was.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hunter

      No evidence he was smoking pot, and even if he was, so what? It's hardly a crime and does not promote violence. He had a right to walk down that street, like all of us do. Zimmerman had NO right to shoot him.

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

      II was a pot-smoking troublemaker who got EXPELLED from HS. About 14 years or so later, I'm now a hardworking citizen who loves politics, drama films and swagged-out hiphop. My point is that I didn't deserve death back then, and neither did Trayvon.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Datruthhurtz

      I wonder if the hoodies the klan wears is not thuggish ?? ESPECIALLY WITH ALL OF THE VIOLENCE THAT THESE WHITE COWARDS HAVE COMMITED . Zimmerman will be Zimmerwoman very soon.. . So when he goes in the klanker will he be enomored by the vatos or the Arian brotherhood ? One thing i do know is that ass will be givin some koolaid as lipstick .WELCOME TO OZ ..

      April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lionel

      You got to be kidding me. Someone was shot after getting skettles and a tea bag from a grocery story.

      I hope you do not have a son cause you will know what it feels like to lose one.

      Z stalked and shot Travyon and then tried to cover it up by lieing that it was self-defence. His dad is a judge and got him off on four previous offences. This was clearly a coverup and travestry of justice which will be proven in court.

      Have a good day

      April 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Keith

    George Zimmerman will never get a fair trial, period, no matter what the charges brought against him are. And how funny, the people clamoring for his arrest for allegedly murdering Trayvon Martin would be the first to lynch Zimmerman without a trail were they to get the chance. Is Trayvon Martin deserves justice then so does George Zimmerman. To believe anything else is the height of hypocracy.

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

      YOu have no evidence to back any of that up. So, yes, you're a hypocrite.

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

      First .. we don't know yet what the press conference is about.
      Second, the kid too didn't get any fair trial ... so u know .. if u r a stupid vigilante who killed without reason, don't be surprised if u hardly will get anything more than that .
      Third .. and last ... the guy should have never been left free .. in the first place, as it was very clear his claim of self defense against an unarmed kid was very thin anyway .. it would have been better for him to if he got arrested on that day so that he would have gotten a real investigation. Of course, if u r a vigilante who killed with premeditation, u rather stay out of jail

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

      Did Trayvon get a fair trial ?? When your boy is found face down in a pile of his own feces .. Then it might be !!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      Very well put.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. done

    He was a quassi official, being a neighborhood crime watcher- so they gave him the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand. someone is dead – and they just whola assume- it was self defense, go prove it is not. Ugly situation, and the icing on the cake, crosses racial lines- to heighten tensions. Oh the tangle web we weave- well anyway back to work for me.

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

    Hopefully this will cause other vigilantes to reconsider taking the law into their own hands.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Crystal

    Pfhhhh....this is ridiculous. This isn't even about whites. This about a Hispanic and a African American. This Zimmerman should pay for what he did. He was basically a self appointed 'cop' (self appointed neighborhood watch captain) who thinks he has the right to shoot someone based on how they are standing or walking. The kid only had a drink and skittles on him.....maybe this is why Zimmerman wasn't a cop in real life....his judgement SUCKS! So now he should pay for his wrong...that simple. AND, I AM white!

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

      You're right. That somebody, at night, in the middle of a downpour, peeking into parked car windows, who was later found to have a large flathead screwdriver and a plethora of stolen women's jewelry, shouldn't have been approached. In this case, judge and be attacked, or judge not and allow cars to get broken into. The kid got what he deserved, especially when he had the audacity to attack Zimmerman AND reach for Zimmerman's gun. Per federal law, under concealed carry permit laws, he is justified in self-defense. Sorry to break it to you, but 'justice' has already been done.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gina lewis

    Jeff, I couldn't agree with you more

    April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Susan

    Thank god! its about time charge the sob!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Wolf8161

    Since when does the, "He had no hair so there's no way I could have done that" defense excuse assaulting someone if it really did happen? Try shaving your head and let someone do that to you.................maybe it'll make more sense to you (before you lose consciousness that is).

    April 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon

    What a shame. I'm glad he shot this thug. More people need to start standing up to these punk thugs. I would have done the same thing. It's to take our neighborhoods back! Calling all vigilantes! Look out thugs! We're coming for you!

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

      Shut the hell up!

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

      Very sad comment. I hope you are joking.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pearl

    I love how all these black people are Facebooking and Tweetin' it up about how they want 'justice to prevail' but what they really mean is they want Zimmerman to be locked away forever. Its a possibility that the true 'Justice' in this case will be when Zimmerman is set free since he was attacked by Trayvon and he simply defended himself from the much taller, more fit, Trayvon. What will happen then? The protests saying 'Justice' didn't prevail. I wish they would just say what they mean...

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

      @Pearl – remember someone's son is dead and not coming home to his family. This is not a black and white thing, a lot of white people feel that a coverup and injustice occured here. Either way, I have faith in our justice system. It is very sad that you have such racist views in 2012. How many black people and friends do you have?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
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