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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. 305ladyleo

    @nancybrad, screw you. He knew he was going to be charged that's why to went to Faux News and tried to call the prosecutor's office two days ago.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • joan

      This article is hearsay. Fox News does not report on matters that are not news worthy. CNN makes up the news.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe D

      The fact that you wrote "faux news" means you have lost credibility and are no more than a pundit wannabe.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TPF

    If the victim was white no charges would be filed. America needs to stand up for this racism from the blacks too.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr Neanderthal

      right...

      http://www.salon.com/2012/04/11/when_stand_your_ground_fails/singleton/

      April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Yeah right. If the victim was white the result would have been a public lynching by dudes with pointy hats.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon O

      Really?

      You think if it was the other way around, if Trayvon had been 18 and had a carry and conceal permit, and shot a white guy dead in "self defense" he wouldn't have been arrested on the spot?

      Okay there, Kaptain Klanny.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Exactly, black people are the most racist people on this earth and they prey on weak people with "white guilt" to blame them as the cause of all their faults.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeyR

      That's an arrogant and totally incorrect statement, not based on fact. Since you've based your opinion on just that, opinion, and apparently not looked at all the facts as the prosecutor has done, what do you base your comment on? Not law... Do a little homework and research on this prosecutor.. This is one tough lady...

      April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geezy

      I see you see the world from your fishbowl point of view. If the victim was white, the arrest would have occurred the evening of the murder. There is no doubt. You can deny that all you want but until you walk a mile in the shoes of a black person you can't judge way we feel, or rather KNOW there is still racism. We experience it every day.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave too

      IT IS STUNNING HOW INCORRECT YOUR STATEMENT IS.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. joan

    He is going to be "charged if (he) hasn’t been charged already".... If this a liberal thing? CNN is really bias about this case. There is no charge. Report on facts instead of leftist BS.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave too

      Did you even read the story you're commenting on? "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." Please don't take up space with your ignorance.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jymbeau

    Charged with what, being black on a Friday night?

    April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TOTBS

    Mike, what were the hundreds of years of slavery "fanning?"

    April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. marjee123

    this is what should have been done right away. If he is found innocent or guilty by the jury then people will have to live with that.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kim

    Angie is our State Attorney here in Jacksonville and she's awesome! GO ANGIE GO!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wjeri

    Of course he will be charged. Too many media hypes and if not the black community would riot.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyView

      How many prosecutors would have the moral courage not to charge Zimmerman considering all the incredible personal abuse that would result? Corey would become the devil incarnate if she didn't file. She would receive hate mail ,death threats and calls for her impeachment. Her family as well would receive threats. Spike Lee would tweet her home address. Riots might ensue in which many innocent people would be injured or killed. In these situations we can always expect public servants to make the choice that requires the LEAST amount of moral courage. If it weren't for the millions of people clamoring for Zimmerman's blood, Corey would never ever consider charging him, given all the evidence that exists that Zimmerman defended himself against an attacker.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave too

      Hey My View, your opinion is just that – Your View. I have an opinion as well, but I'm just glad there will be a trial, where we'll have a chance to see all the evidence (or at least those the Sanford PD didn't screw up). I predict the biggest twist will be when we see the photos GZ had taken before he went to the hospital the next day showing nasty injuries we did not see in the video. I predict he will go down, but I'm not going to say I know what happened that night. All I can say is it doesn't look good for your boy George. Even the noble and courageous Sean Hannity is trying to distance himself.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    did they wait for him to flee the state before they decided to charge him?

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sherri frazier

    @ Nancy Screw you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ass Hole how can you say such a thing, He murder that Young man for NOOOOO Reason !! You are Nutts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Screw You !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thomas Jefferson

    Just prove it was Zimmerman screaming for help on that 911 call, and he is free. Easy Case.
    Prove it was Trayvon screaming for help on the 911 call, and he is guilty. Easy Case.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyView

      @Thomas Jefferson
      "Just prove it was Zimmerman screaming for help on that 911 call, and he is free. Easy Case.
      Prove it was Trayvon screaming for help on the 911 call, and he is guilty. Easy Case."

      Yes, the voice analysis is critical for all people who want to be fair but I predict if it's Zimmerman's voice crying for help, it will not silence the mob clamoring for his blood.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. taterhead

    Is there any other news besides Martin ? I'm tired of hearing about it, Lets talk about the young BLACK man who killed those 2 british tourist , Or maybe the WHITE man who was beaten and robbed in Baltimore..If martin was white or any other race this would not be here..Arrest Zimmerman and let the courts decide, otherwise the blacks will riot and steal everything they can get there hands on...

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      You mean the ones who were arrested for their crimes and will face the appropriate criminal charges?

      The false equivalencies being used by people in this discussion make me want to puke.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geezy

      Sure. Where the perps in those incidents known but not charged with any crime?

      April 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. desilu

    screw the blacks

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jay

    This sets up another one of those cases where an acquittal will certainly mean bad things for everyone. I'd say we have another huge landmark case on our hands of if they do indeed charge him. I'm still curious if it will be for murder though. I'm no legal expert but I'm kind of wondering if its possible to charge him with murder. Maybe something less? Not sure.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. James

    This is a sad day that mob rule decides who is charged. I hope that no one will have to be in this same position it's a disgrace to America.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon O

      Charged doesn't equal convicted.

      Evidence will decide and the evidence from Zimmerman has been challenged enough that law enforcement will charge him. Rule of law. Deal with it.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165