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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    There are more current pictures available of the victim Martin. Can someone please tell
    me why they are not being aired by news stations ? They are more accurate & don't make him look so young & weak. If you put Martin & Zimmerman side by side you might realize it would be possible for Martin to attack Zimmerman. He was not that small & young.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Todd

    I don't really see too many options for a win.
    The best case Zimmerman is tried fairly and found guilty. That is the best case.
    Zimmerman is tried fairly and found innocent. Public Outrage
    Zimmerman is tried unfairly and found guilty. Public Outrage
    Zimmerman is tried unfairly and found innocent. Public Outrage + Possible violence.

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

      Certain elements in this country won't sleep until another city is burned to the ground. The only thing that will stop that is if Zimmerman, guilty or not, is tried and found guilty of murder

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

      Good luck on finding a partial jury....

      April 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • HvyCavSgt

      Happily, this will be decided in accordance with the law, not as a popularity contest. There is another possibility: Zimmerman might plead guilty to some (perhaps) lesser charge(s).

      April 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pro Zimmerman

    Point blank this was self-defense!!!

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

      No it was murder he was told not to persue and the idiot did so now zimmerman has to pay...

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

      self defense is when you are minding your business and someone approach you....... not trying to be a super hero

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

      Odd that he is being charged then.

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

      and you know this 100%? obviously your a total dolt. if you know so much why don't you get a law degree and take the job of prosecutor. I bet you can't even spell prosecutor.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      yes, for Trayvon

      April 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Sense

      your wrong, no one has talked about why did that kid punch him...... I would have to kick you in the face for following me around too. unfortunatly zimmerman was a punk and shot a unarmed man. Last time i checked no one assigned him to be batman or some daredevil. he is a vigilante and there is no place for idiots like him and for the most part you. because im willing to bet you got your butt handed to you in school and probably deserved it

      April 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • strategic bob

      Pro Zimmerman, the truth of what happened that night and how to characterize it – slef-defence, murder, manslaughter, whatever – is for a jury to decide based on the evidence presented. You don't have access to the actual evidence, so all you have is an uninformed OPINION,. Your OPINION is like a certain bodily opening – it's yours and you have an absolute right to hold on to it as tightly as you want, but the rest of us don't want to see it or hear it. got it?

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

    Why is it that Trayvon is looking younger and younger every day with the photos from CNN? By the trial, they will be using his baby pictures. Zimmerman should serve some time and am not questioning that at all. But can we stop making this story one sided. CNN was going crazy with the so call racial slur on the 911 call. All of a sudden couple of experts agree he said punk and now nothing is said about it.

    I do not know the full story and no one reading these article truly knows. The kid probably (or most likely) did not deserve to be killed, but let the trial happen and the facts come out, before hanging Zimmmerman.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Will

    **********************************CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?????????????????**********************

    April 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • dbrooks602

      LOL....not in the United Divided States.

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

      not with the insane people here posting total garbage about things they don't know or understand

      April 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rapierpoint

    I'd be concerned about this special prosecutor that leaked this info. There are already questions about information being leaked to the public etc. This certainly doesn't help. What's the point in leaking the info if it's going to be announced later today, anyway?

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

      Yep this leak can throw out the whole case.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. citizen

    @ Robin can u explain any of this crap of a defense?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    Black people are signifigantly more racist than most white people I know. The boos will riot when it's all said and done.

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

      Who tricked the indians and pretty much almost eliminated them? Who's Hitler? He must be black right? Stalin black right? What about in bosnia-herzogovina ethnic cleansing? Let me guess the black panther party did that? I can name a whole list of things. But real is real. Look at history.

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

      AGREE %100

      April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • dbrooks602

      Jeff please tell the first black person you see today FACE TO FACE the same thing your comment says. (I seriously doubt that will happen). How can you call yourself a American when you dont even know American history.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tony

    Self defense, is listening to the police authority, staying in your car, locking the doors, and only shoot through the window if some one tries to break-in. Anything else is wrongful death.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew Barkus

    We may never know the real story [though hopefully the authorities will figure it out].

    But one thing is certain. If Zimmerman had not been [legally] packing heat while patrolling his gated community, that kid would be alive and we would not be having this conservation.

    NRA – the gift that keeps on giving.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Clint04 Wa.

    Knowing what will be waiting for him in prison once charges are filled, I think he will commit suicide.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jose

    This is great. no more hate crimes. SOB zimmerman

    April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AshahsMommy

    What really saddens me about all of this is, when black and white issues come about, you can see just how racist people really are...reality is, the United States will never, ever get past black or white. Its so unfortunate...the majority of post are so racist and insensitive. Most people post stupid, ignorant opinions. A life was lost and it took all of this just to get an indictment...what would have happened if the case would have been swept under the rug like the case of the black and hispanic man that were last seen riding in the car of a deputy in FL mind you but yet the only thing that happened was the deputy was fired for lying about his involvement...ignorance never seems to amaze me...SMH

    April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hanna

    zimmerman totally deserves the arrest!!! WOOP WOOP!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sam

    Now I can breath easier,no one should getaway with murder.

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