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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    As Trayvon's mother stated and I concur, 'It's in God's hands..." May God Bless the Martin family.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. YVONNE

    I am so sick of reading these ignorant post by you White Racist Americans!!!! You all hide behind your stupid-ignorant screen names and when you have to be out in public try to portray that you can get along with the rest of the world. White people have been killing and getting away with for years. Every African-American is not trying to kill somebody or spew hatred. Most of you have been taught this foolishness and ignorance, but I must say I dare any white man or woman think they would even have the chance to enslave me come on and give it a try. This is a new day and the times are different, White people are just as violent as you want to say that African Americans are. I say just let those who you work around know the real you and lets see what happens. Most of you want to carry guns not for safety but just so that you will have the chance to end a life. The neighborhood watch is nothing new and this fool should have just waited on the police to get there. If you notice they were taking their time because this ignorant fool had run ins with the police before and they were even sick of his antics. So all of you ignorant White Racist fools Get SOME WHERE AND SIT YOUR IGNORANT-STUPID A** DOWN.

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

      YVONNE,

      You are already a slave. This system is slowly enslaving us all white and black. Vote Obama out to end the slavery!

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

      If violence is your issue check out the NRA a home grown terrorist organization which I suspect is nearly all white.

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

      Deep end.. meet YVONNE...

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

      THANK YOU!!!!! they all hide behind a computer and talk tough with a keyboard, however, they wouldn't dare say a thing in public! At least down South you know where you stand, no hiding their disdain for people of color..I LIVED IT AND MY WHOLE FAMILY IS FROM MISSISSIPPI ..your points are so spot on!

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

      You are spreading hate.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Nice rant.... Based on that jibberish, you are precisely what you call "white people" as you put it... ignorant.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • biggerballz

      not everyone thinks this case should be made in to a race issue. It's a law issue, and if you don't get that you're ignorant. People are just tired of hearing about this case, which until a few hours ago had no new information. While there are plenty of other violent crimes that need media attention. Like the case of the tourist in baltimore who got beaten for no reason by a angry mob. Also if ghetto trash people would actually help themselves instead of doing the things they do their life wouldn't suck. Bill Cosby is the one person blacks should listen to but choose to ignore and instead play race bait games with sharpton. BTW i'm not white.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Zimmer is hispanic... you know that right?

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

      Who is spewing hatred now?

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

      I'm black and I have to disagree with you Yvonne. The ignorance coming from some posters here is no more representative of "whites" as s whole as the black kids hwo robbed that guy on St. Patty's day are representative of black people as whole. The vast majority of whites and blacks are not racist. Nor would I say one group is more violent than the other, the reality is the press and media paint the picture they want people to see because it sells. What did the blacks in Tulsa say after those 2 white guys went on their shooting rampage, they basically said bottomline is that the media will create a firestorm but this behaviour by those 2 men is not indicative of racial behaviour of citizens of Tulsa. And that's the reality is that yes, racism exists, but I would say the vast majority of people simply just go about living their lives. And had not the media painted this as a black and white issue, and simply portrayed it for hwat it was most people would agree Zimmerman needed to be arrested. You can't just go around offing teenagers as a neighborhood watch lead, white, green, black or blue. This case should have never become about race although yes Zimmerman probably has a world view of black youths, i don't think he in anyway wants to go around shooting blackteens, I simply believed that he felt his world view of young black males was right and he responded based on that view. And that is the danger of racism is that you assume about others without actually knowing them which is exactly what you just did Yvonne.

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

      Riiiiiight, that is why most black people are killed by other black people. Go figure. By your post, you are more racist than most KKK members I have met. Though granted I haven't met very many.

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

      It's people like you that give black people a bad name. Justice has already been served. The attacker is dead.

      Being black doesn't make you an african american. African Americans can be ALL colors, EVEN white.

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

      Innocent till proven guilty. All I have to say...

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

      That is why these kind of people hate Rev Al Sharpton and others. Sharpton calls them out but they want pretend they are not racist. I look the comments where some folks say "stop playing the race card", and "Sharpton is this or that", and YET these same posters turn around and make generalize racist comments about blacks. Go figure.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • George W

      "White people have been killing and getting away with for years". Really !?!? Let me guess, you're black.... What a surprise.... "Every African-American is not trying to kill somebody or spew hatred. " most are not.... but you are.... Just like when OJ was found not guilty and black people everywhere rejoiced. When Zimmerman is found not guilty I wonder how many white people will be jumping around like they hit the lottery ? Not many... He stood his ground and a punk wearing a hoddie messed with the wrong person.... BTW – who wears a hoddie in FLA ?

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

      Yvonne. Your post communicates the very actions and ignorance you purport.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Calm down. If a bunch of clowns on an online comment board gets you this upset – wow. Just as you say not all African Americans are out to do violent crime, don't assume the person writing comments on the board is even white. I'm white, have black friends (yes black, not African American – they're American) and they know exactly how I feel. May not agree, but we'll still go drink a beer together. It's called being an adult. Listening to each other with open minds. Forget what most of our elders taught us. Their ignorance shouldn't be mine.

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

      Frankly, Yvonne did NOT say all whit;es she said White RACIST Americans which means If you are white and not a racist, then her comment does NOT apply to you. People know what they are in their own heart.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jomm

      George W, you can NOT compare OJ case with this case. OJ simpson was really never proven to kill those people regardless if he did it or not; unlike this case, WE KNOW FOR A FACT Zimmerman killed this teen. Big difference.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. james

    George, dont worry..the black people in prison, are very understanding.

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

    Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin are victims in this tragedy. And though we can not breathe life into Mr. Martin, we can afford Mr. Zimmerman the apportunity to present his story to the trier of fact., especially since I believe ,although the color of Mr. Martin's skin was a factor in the incident, he was not killed because he was black. The causative seeds that led toMr. Zimmerman viewing Mr. Martin negatively on the night of the incident, existed long befoe he met Mr. Martin. Mr.Martin's color was just a by-product of those seeds. That is why Mr. Zimmerman has my unconditional love, also, and for the record, I am Black., and thinks he has to be held accountable for his unconscious and conscious actions for his good and others..

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

    bill in florida is an obvious jerk..............the boy is dead, he killed him and admitted it.......it shouldn't be, at the very least, investigated?

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

    "Rome is the mob..."
    Never more true than today. I'm not saying he's not guilty of something (he was, after all, armed while on a neighborhood watch program) but the only reason he is having the book thrown at him is because of fear of a mob backlash. Hey, where is the outcry and mob for the white guy that was beaten by a group of blacks for a watch a few days ago? Where are Jackson and the other media w h o r e Sharpton? Will they condemn that? Probably not. This country is ruled by blind mob mentality and everyday we take an evolutionary step backwards....

    April 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea

    I was there, I saw everything. A chinese guy actually shot Trayvon, Zimmerman was just covering for him.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mr. Smith

    This is so crazy!!! A lot of these racist and ignorant comments from white people, are coming from the same people that we see at work everyday. That we laugh and talk sports with, ask about each others families, eat lunch with, and talk about this case to. All of you cowards stand in your Black collegues faces and say that Zimmerman should be arrested. Then you come on here and make racist comments while you hide behind a keyboard. We would have much more respect for you if you would've just been truthful about your feelings in the beginning. #Real Cowards.

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

      EXACTLY. And they get mad at black leaders and blacks and others for calling it out racism. Silly isn't it?

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

      EXACTLY. And they get mad at black leaders and blacks and others for calling it out racism.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Scott S

    This is crazy...That hood was as fault but because he was black its a crime....If this was reversed it would be racist for the white people to hold rallys...Trayvon got what he deserved dont let anyone fool you...He had a record and started a fight with a man with a gun...Not a samrt idea...

    April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • marabou22

      he did not have a record. he was suspended from school. Zimmerman had a record of domestic violence and punching a cop.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vito_1502

      Martin's prior offenses are immaterial...and as far as "starting a fight" with an armed man, there apparently is NO ONE who saw the "First Contact" between the two...and now we are left with just Zimmerman's version of events – and when that's bounced against the so far presented visual evidence, and the ambulance run sheet, and the alleged ER visit, and forensics/autopsy of Martin – and Zimms clothing, things are NOT gonna add up as he's presented them so far.

      A trial is needed – not just to impart justice, but also to preserve for us the right to defend ourselves WHEN JUSTIFIED.

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

      Do you have help breathing? I mean, the intelligence you show in your post is un-extraordinary! You must have help with the simpler things n life, like breathing. I could recite all the things Zimmerman did to break the law, but you wouldn't understand. I will mention this though, Zimmerman won't get what he deserves, which is the death penalty. He didn't know how to use a gun, shouldn't have had a concealed permit to carry a gun, and shot an unarmed man because he was getting his butt whipped by a kid who he outweighed by 100 pounds. What a wimp!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. My2Cents

    No wonder whites are always targeted by blacks. It just shows, black people think that white people are easy targets. Get a couple of blacks protesting, causing a scene and see how scared your white officals get about a race war. Next time a white person is killed by a black person (which should be sometime tonight). I am going to cause a HUGE scene, protest and cry foul! Give me a break!

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

      Those scenes only happen when the police don't do their job. If the police fails to do their job when the white person gets killed, I'll protest with you.

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

      Go ahead and protest 2cents, no one will notice. Not because you are white, but because you are an idiot!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BWIZZLE

    Had Zimmmerman followed police and neighborhood watch guldlines, we wouldn't even be having this conversation, at the very least he is responsible for Trayvon being dead. He gets what he deserves. A grown man shooting an unarmed teenager, in my book that makes him a coward, no matter what the courts decide. He ruined his own life by thinking he was above the law and whether you're black or white, no one is above the law. Karma is a b***h!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. glu

    I see how this will all play out, at the end of a long media frenzy filled trial an unfavorable outcome for the blacks and the mass rioting to follow.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • MZeb75

      No. They will charge him and probably get a convistion to PREVENT the rioting.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Common Sense

    He killed someone that did not deserve to die, justice will be served no matter what all these ignorant people say. Judgement day will come for all these wrong doing , saying people. Karma knows everyone....

    April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Thomas Jefferson

    Easy case, I don't see the big deal. 1st lawyer to prove it's their client screaming for help in the 911 call wins......

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

    Thought I would be happy to hear that Zimmerman will get his day in court. Just too sad a story.

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