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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    This is just a witch hunt, influenced by public pressure. The prosecutor had to trump up some charge, just to prevent a riot.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Willy B.

    Congratulations to Anderson Cooper for trying and convicting Zimmerman. The only thing more pathetic was Cooper pandering to the thug from The New Black Panthers. Way to go CNN, you are now on a par with MSNBC.

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

      I saw the interview with BP's and AC, i didnt see any pandering at all.. It was quite the contrary.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      What the hell are you talking about....MSNBC is way different than CNN. CNN is non-partisan.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • rukidding

      Zinnerman has already been convicted and the"New Black Panthers" should move into a zoo. It's pathetic that they just couldn't let the justice dept and Special prosecuter do their job. Another Florida Trial – "The Old Black Panthers" that have nothing better to do than instigate hate and mobs.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      I agree Willy

      April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob vincent

      They should rename CNN DNN the Democratic Party News Network. It's sad. They were SO good 15 years ago...

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

    If George Zimmerman had been honest about what he did from the start of this incident...I don't think it would have gotten to this point. The fact that he thinks he is 100 percent innocent... is silly. He is just as much to blame (if not MORE) for this situation. He's the one who carried a weapon...provoked a fight by following Trayvon and instead of fighting like a MAN...he shot the boy. Doesn't sound like an innocent man to me. So I hope that the justice system does all the necesary research in this case and charge him appropriately...we do NOT need more "innocent killers" on the streets. lol

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

      It is legal to carry a gun. Everybody keeps calling him a boy 6"2 against 5"8 and a sucker punch. You dont have much of a chance. But you and others like you should be happy now.

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

      Candace go take your meds.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. te gee

    why wont the news show this black guys face book picture? oh wait it would be to ganster. this guy was a criminal and a drug dealer.

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

      You mean of the kid flipping the bird? Does that make him a "gangsta," and worthy of being murdered?

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

      What PROOF do you have to support the claim that Trayvon Martin was a drug dealer? Please do tell.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • zia

      ... and so Martin deserves to die? If we are talking about conduct, how about taking a shot at Zimmerman's violent past? SMDH

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

      um if you didn't know, that gangster picture, was not the Trayvon Martin who was shot from Florida. The picture posted by the white supremacist group, pandered by Faux News and spread by TeaGagging NeoCons was of a completely different kid from Georgia who happened to have the same name, Trayvon Martin. That news was oh so 3 weeks ago ya big dummy.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • So?

      If he was a "gangster" and a "drug dealer", that justifies his murder how?

      Also, does being such things you say he was justify his being stalked by a man in a gun?

      Let's talk about the real thug here- the thug that followed a kid because he felt he "didn't belong" in his neighborhood. The thug that shot an unarmed teenager that defended himself from a stalker psycho. Isn't that what "gangstas" do when they feel someone is on "their turf"? Zimmerman might as well be a gang member because he conducts himself like one.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Because that wasn't the right Trayvon, numbnuts.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Human

      Prove it! You can make this wild accusation against a fairly typical teen but where is your EVIDENCE? in your thick fox news skull...

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

      because then his parents couldn't make as much money from trade marking his name. But the pictures of a 17 yr old with tatoos? Yeah star kid at school just couldn't go because he took drugs to school. I hope all this comes out at trial and George is acquited.

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

      Because he's a juvenile?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob vincent

      Not true Eric. That was Travon's picture from Twitter, the NO_LIMIT_N****A account. You're a liar.

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

    i LOL hard at stand your ground laws, according to the law you are allowed to kill if you feel threatened correct?? LOL well if that's the case i could go on a absolute killing spree because i feel threatened basically all the time LOLLOLOLOLOL

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

      i agree with you man....lol

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    I'm sick of the media swaying the world on this case. This isn't even official but of course cnn will make it seem that way. This has been the problem from the start. I hope they came up with alot of new evidence. Otherwise there just wasting the tax dollars

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

      I agree, CNN, manipulated this case since the beginning posting photos of a much younger Trayvon Martin; made many people think that a "very young, incapable of defending himself" victim came to the mind of millions of people. The parents in the beginning said that the color of the skin of his son was the motif for the deadly shooting. It would be nice if CNN would show the whole content of Zimmerman's call to the police, not only bits of it. And many people say many things in a case like this, and their stories should be verified before being taken as the real truth of the event. FoxNews says that there is another kind of version of the story where on witness saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, and that he aproached Zimmerman, not the other way around. It is worth to check this version of the story.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JimmyPuff

    Well, the media race-baited and they got what they wanted. Hope everyone will be happy when the riots start up when this guy gets acquitted. Thanks for reporting the "news".

    April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. get'em

    I hope Zimmerman gets what's coming to him. If he was told by the police to stand down and chose pursue this young many anyhow, then he's at fault and needs to be punished for his actions.

    @ nancybrad – there will come a time when you will need a doctor to save your life. I hope it's a black doctor, maybe he'll decide to say screw you! In fact you may need to see a doctor now, your vision seems to be impared by the walls of your rectum!!!

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

      No police office ordered Zimmerman to stand down. Please stop perpetuating BS and grow a brain (impossible, I know).

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      He was not told by police to stand down....read the story...he was told by the 911 operator that "we don't need you to do that" what happened after that is unknown.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      read what was said stop falling him and he did. Listen to what was said. But you choose to hate

      April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • woodin

      not when the police department didn't do due the necessary diligence upfront. A jury will decide. I take no sides here on guild or innocence.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    Isnt it a bit late to charge him? He has already been convicted by the media and lynched bu the mob...

    April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. woodin

    CNN was 10 mins behind other news sites on this story.

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

      ....yet you're still hanging around this site, waiting for the post.....

      April 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ZIMMERMAN IS A HERO

    I will personally donate whatever money and time I can to help him. I believe that we need to stand up to the ruthless uneducated cold calous animals. Black people deserve to die the way the live.

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

      @Zimmerman is a hero You definitely don't have ANY bias in that statement! I am happy to hear your very educated opinion on the matter.

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

      Really? I hope we have the pleasure in meeting, so you can really tell me how you feel!

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

      What makes you say he is a hero?

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

      Feel better? I am happy to learn you do not like us it brings the warmth of spring further to my soul. It would have been so much nicer if you were more honest and provided your name so I would not have to wonder which of the non Black co-workers or any particular non Black I encounter along the way actually feels so terribly about Black people.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • OC

      Wow. Unfotunately, your ignorance does not surprise me. I am unsure of who to blame, your parents, their parents, your teachers, your community, the media. Perhaps I am giving outside influences too much credit. I hope you can break the cycle, and not pass along your hate filled mantra to your children.

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

      no you won't, lol!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. darrell

    I think it is strange that Sharpton and parents having a news conference in DC and are calling for calm when the charges are announced. The charges were supposed to be announced on Friday, all of a sudden they are going to be announced in Jacksonville today at 6pm. and not Sanford. They have allready got the call I reckon and it’s not what they want. Usually Sharpton is inciting violence whenever he can.

    And screw Holder for congradulating Sharpton on a job well done on the Martin case. Are you freaking kidding me

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

      Some day sharpton will be gone and we can stop pretending everything has to do with race. He provokes Racism, and is a racist hisself.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Glad I left

    Florida is filled with gun nuts and every other nut one can imagine.
    Corruption and crimes is what comes out of Florida.
    Orlando and Jacksonville area has Skinheads and Klan members.
    Southeast Florida has nothing but rude people and criminals.
    Not a safe place to visit or live.
    Stay out of Florida if you value your life.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeddi

    The hilarity.. how can one stand his ground if he's in pursuit?? Have you ever been chased before?? Did you get away just to go back and confront the dude chasing you??I think we call that bullying today (lehmens terms).. listen people, the argument has been for dude to stand trial PERIOD.. if for some reason Trayvon wasn't standing his ground after being pursued by an individual with a gun then let that show in court but the issue here is that you all don't want him to stand trial.. I know I said Trayvon was standing his ground after being caught by his pursuer.. Amazing huh.. Personally I don't think he should stand trial either.. I believe in an eye for an eye which is why I don't snitch.. this one should be handled in the streets and maybe that'll make you(s) happy...

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

      Hey – Jeddi – "lehmans terms" means something completely different thank you think...

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • What??

      Yeah, except that's not exactly what happened is it? Gotta love people who make # up and fill in the blanks with their opinions. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

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

    The case is a loser but they seemed to have pushed all in before got a good look at their cards. They want to start race riots so they can declare an emergency to put NDAA and NDRP into action. If they can't start race riots, they'll pull off a false flag operation and get their "emergency" that way.

    People, don't buy into the racial hatred they're trying to stir up. It's bad for your health and ultimately bad for your eternal soul. Doctored tapes and photos, the usual suspects trotted out to pour gas on the fire. . .it's blatant manipulation to get the end result they want.

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