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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    It is tragic that a life was lost and I feel for the boys parents but everyone has already prosecuted and found him guilty before all facts have been presented. Zimmerman took the life of a 17 y.o. That may have attacked him for following him. What would do if you were being followed and confronted by a larger male,fight,run? Zimmerman brought this on himself by confronting the boy and called it self-defence. He should of observed and called it in and waited for police. Zimmerman violated the boys civil rights and used deadly force beyond what the law declares was legal. After all who was the adult with the gun,and who was the child?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wolf8161

      How many "children" have killed adults before? One is one too many. Irregardless of how old you are..................if my safety is threatened or I think you pose a danger, I WILL kill you. Color, age, religious affiliation..........................nothing matters but my survival.
      Age doesn't make you innocent or harmless.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. woodie

    This is a politically-charged civil rights lynching of a Hispanic/white person.

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

    Surprize surprize, Zimmerman has made his way to Cuba, via Canada.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ruining The Surprise

    Zimmerman will be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. He will do 10 or so years and be released on parole when no one in the media cares any more. Zimmerman's life will be ruined regardless.

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

      Exactly, it's all about payback from the black lynch mob. Blatant racism in our country, except now it's the black community engaging in racist behaviour. Watch how long the white community puts up with it... Until November. Bye bye Barak Hussein...

      April 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill55

      Zimmerman will not be suffering like Martin did. To anyone who criticizes Martin for wearing a particular item of clothing: does that mean we can slam Romney for wearing Jesus underwear? Fools. Good luck with a Romney economy.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HOODIE

    Wanna where a hoodie and try to intimidate people Wanna act like a thug and try to intimidate people THEN YOU DIE LIKE A THUG Enough said

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

      Really? Unbelievable. Go suck an egg.

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

      You are an idiot!

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

      In what community other than the box you reside in does wearing a hoodie make you a thug? I live in Oregon where people of all ethnicities wear hoodies everyday of the year... so really is that the only thing that you have to prove that Trayvon doesn't deserve justice?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bringiton1

      Please for the sake of civilization don't have any offspring.

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

      That night, there was only one guy who has been arrested twice before for violent offenses and had been previously fired from a job for roughing up a cusomter. Do you know who it was? I'll give you a hint – it wasn't the kid in the hoodie. Seems the only thug there that night was fake tough-guy Zimmerman.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ofg

      How was he acting like a thug? He was walking down the street to his fathers house not bothering nobody until Zimmerman started following him. Apparently you havent been listening to the news in regard to this case. All your doing is stereotyping this kid as a thug cause he wore a hoodie. People wear hoodies all the time that doesnt mean they are thugs. Maybe you should check your facts before you post. Nobody deserves to die because they wore a hoodie and the neighborhood patrol person is prejudice. Thats what it comes down at the end of the day. If this kid wasnt black he wouldnt have been bothered.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bari

      It's not where...it's wear. Please take grammar lessons before being so vile.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nyah

      Hoodie
      That comment is so stupid children of all races wear hoodies..besides the punk zimmerman was told not to follow Trayvon. and zimmerman did so it's zimmerman own fault he's in this mess, he was also advised by his lawyers not to say anything and he did just proving that he's an ass and a mental case. hopefully he'll end his life and save tax dollars...

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

      HOODIE – you sound just like the stuff that comes out of our asses ! Ignorant mother f–k– !!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thoughtprovoking

      I have been following this case from the start... here is what I have heard on the news.

      1) TM was suspended. He'd been caught with a screwdriver and womens jewelry. He'd previously swung on a bus driver and caught with a weed pipe and residue.

      2) GZ was an unofficiall neighborhood watchman known for being overzelous. He was told to stop following TM.

      3) TM was on the phone with his g/f and said someone was following him, but he wasn't going to run. It was raining so TM put on his hood.The guy caught up to him and asked what he was doing around there... and it sounded like TM was then pushed.
      4) GZ claims that TM swung on him and beat his head against the pavement.
      5) 911 caller report a scuffle in the GRASS, screaming, then a shot.

      Connect the dots... neither are an angel by any stretch... if GZ followed orders this would have never happend.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • TW

      Tisk. Tisk. I'm a mom who wears hoodies. I wear them in the rain and I wear them on windy days. And, sir, I am far from a thug. This story is simply about a man armed with a feeling, a gun, a suspect and a wrong conclusion. The only thug in this sad story is the one in Zimmerman's mind. The law will deal with his actions. But first he has to be arrested. And THAT is the point. Just saying...

      April 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • 4Justice

      "Die like a thug" It was raining that night so trayvon had a reason to be wearing a hoodie. Zimmerman took someone's life. Thug, white, black, asian hooded or not a life was taken. Zimmerman has to prove in a court of law as to why he took that boy's life. No one can be allowed to kill without going to court to prove it was self defense, accidental...etc. You or a family member may find yourself being the victim of some yahoo using the stand your ground law someday. Wouldn't you want that person to prove why he or she did it? What if he killed this boy just because he's black or because he's black he must be up to no good. If either of the aforementioned was Zimmerman's reasoning he should go to jail. If it was seff defense, I hope and pray he's found not guilty. I want the trial because my son wears a hoodie when he walks our dog in the rain. if someone thought he was a threat, I would want that person to think twice before doing anything to harm my son. Every life has value even a thug's.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    Lots of people talking about this for a lot of days, supporting one side or the other (passionately). No one knows what happened other than the people there, and one is dead. Hopefully justice will be served appropriately, if it can be, and whatever that result may be. Still, we'll never know unless the only people alive involved admit to something wrong. No matter what, a neighborhood watch person calling the police and not leaving it to them (since there's no threat at that time) was probably a bad move (prior to any alleged attack). Secondly, carrying a gun on a neighborhood watch beat? I'd recommend taking the "Observe and report" approach more seriously to avoid things like this, unless there's some urgent need/legitimate threat. Not worth the consequence. I still don't get the whole racial aspects, though anything's possible as a motivator, I don't see any logical evidence to support any such theory.

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

      Because its always about race with Blacks..

      April 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonnyboyterry

      What we do know is the kid was armed with Skittles and Ice Tea and had a reason for being in the neighborhood while Zimmerman was stalking him and was carrying a gun and shot him rather than identify himself as a neighborhood watchman so the kid would know what was up. You know like "Hey, I am a neighborhood watchman, where do you live?"

      April 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GhostColin

    If only Americans were this passionate about voting for elected officials.

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

      You're an idiot.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dean

    The animals will have to put off their riots until he's acquitted

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

      By animals whom do you mean?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bill in florida

    talk about vigilantes look at the black reaction

    April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. timetosaynext

    I can't understand how so many people can defend a murderer. I guess the murder isn't important when it isn't a child of your own. Regardless if he smoked marijuana and got suspended from school he was a teenager who had plenty of years ahead of him. Zimmerman took a life and regardless of race or age he should be brought to justice because the murder wasn't warranted. How was Trayvon a threat yet Zimmerman had a vehicle and a firearm. I see so many post where people... particuarly (white) people have been calling Trayvon a thug. Can you honestly tell me what a thug is? Thugs don't have good grades in school... they don't go to school at all... Thugs don't smoke weed... they sell it... Thugs don't walk around talking to their g/f with skittles and ice tea... Zimmerman was the thug... he was the one with the weapon... he is the one still alive... regardless... he had a vehicle... if he hadn't followed that young man and did as the dispatcher advised Trayvon would probably be alive and well today.

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

      Wasn't this teen 17 (close to an adult), 6'2" and maybe his age wasn't easily determined. Also, just because you have a firearm doesn't remove the threat (now there's a threat of them grabbing the gun). A gun removing the threat means you have the ability to use it to not worry as much about having your life taken because you have that added advantage, and apparently it was used at some point when the teen was shot. I don't know anything about this case that isn't in the articles, and I don't get how/where people know "for a fact" either way. I'd agree, that if the man didn't have a good cause, he should be punished for his crime, but how can anyone take a side on this issue without knowing what really happened and being there? People need to more more careful when using a gun to protect themselves, but that doesn't mean they are always neglectful or that there wasn't an actual threat. The man shouldn't have engaged the teen after reporting it to police and none of this would have happened. One or both involved could be just as guilty for the cause of the outcome. We'll never know.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob vincent

      Here's yet another racist. Saying that Trayvon was some innocent angel. You're a racist!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ross

    Why the need to describe Martin as a 17 year old African American? How about 17 year old shooting victim instead or is that not racial enough?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tim

    Time's up George.

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

    Jeeze...some of you people are clueless....Why did this incident happen ??? what set the events in motion ?...A racist vigilante who assumed that a black youth was a criminal and treated him as such...Trayvon was minding his own business when this armed man got out of his car and started following him...those of you who refer to Trayvon as a "Thug" have the same mentality as Zimmerman...Trayvon gave Zimmerman an EXCUSE to kill him...and Zimmerman was all to willing to use that excuse....Zimmerman should at least be arrested and tried....

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

      Travon the juvenile criminal high on pot just minding his own business serving out his school suspension. Racist!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill55

      Zimmerman was told by a higher authority to stand down! He did not and will suffer the consequences of his inaction. He deserves what he will get.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Melissa

    The people saying George Zimmerman cannot get a fair trial do not have very good memories. Um, Casey Anthony? Hello???????

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

      ummm she walked! Hello?

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

      There isn't going to be a trial.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob vincent

      Try being tried for killing a black with a racist president and a racist attorney general. Zimmerman is screwed. It doesn't matter anymore what happened. The powers that be are going to nail him to the wall.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pam

    and how convenient that all of a sudden the lawyers quit the case and say they have no idea where he is at, hmmm sounds to me like they knew the charges were coming and let him run!

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

      What exactly would the attorneys get out of that?

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

      If anything, charges are being pressed because his lawyers walked. The DA no longer has the assurance of his lawyers that he will not run. Safer to press charges and bring him in.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      H isn't going run, he is going to go through this circus and then start suing people. I really think he will be vindicated.

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