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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    This 'trial' is only an attempt at George Zimmerman's life. Although in hiding, he is currently safe. Once he is brought to this politically-pushed, BS 'trail', he's going to have so many bigoted eyes on him, he'll never be able to leave. Even when he is found not guilty, that's not going to be good enough for the mentally-shallow, biased protestors. They won't be satisfied until they can avenge the death of one of their own, even if the person had legal justification to do it, in the first place. This all goes back to Obama. If he didn't have the nerve to open his fat mouth (again) in the first place, we never would have seen national media elevation of this magnitude. Racism will always stem from the top, and that's one of the reasons he's getting the boot in November. Anybody who has actually read "Dreams Of My Father" knows that I'm justified in making this claim against him.

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

    Im so tired or black people crying about all the bad crap that they think happens to them. SERIOSULY ARE YOU KIDDING. I wish every black person in this country would evaporate

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

      ur an idiot

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

      yea crying for their murderd child, terrible.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      Yeah, I don't know where PoC get this idea that people like you want them to die.

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

    Glad to hear this – he will get his day in court and let the evidence speak for itself. I just hope all hades doesn't break loose if he gets off like it did with Rodney King.

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

      It all hades does break loose it will reflect the poor mentality of people given NO ONE did a thing when OJ Simpson got off.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    If charges are brought, Zimmerman should still be considered innocent until proven guilty of all things including being a racist. What it would prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that THE POLICE DID NOT DO THEIR JOB that tragic night. That is the real story here, never forget that.

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

      Another TM supporter who has no idea what they're talking about. The fact is the police captain wanted to charge him that night and was ordered to dismiss the charges by the State Attorneys Office. Seriously, you people just make # up at this point. Lynch mob mentality. Can we blame you for being brainless? Also, I am not a GZ supporter. Just tired of the legion of dumb people who make ignorant remarks on this subject.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. What??

    Let the courts handle it. But that won't happen. The Court of Public Opinion is only happy when there's a lynching. It's disgusting to see so many of the TM supporters misconstrue the facts and just make stuff up to fill in the blanks. Many, many ignorant people in this world. People don't want justice... the want to be right, and the media has their blood up. Fools.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Damu

    to see how racist some of you are on here does not suprise me.. you are zimmerman.. you are a racist and one day will have to answer for that.. you hate beauty, which is why you are so ugly, you hate creation, which is why you are so destructive. You are a devil. Your day will come. I promise.

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

      And your comment is really rather ridiculous.

      Ah good now we finished roll call.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cindy

    It's about time! I can't believe it has taken this long to press charges on Zimmerman – I think if the tables were turned, Martin would have been in jail night one. Finally, this family can get the justice they deserve.

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

      It is because evidence had to be figured out. This was not a completely clean cut case no matter how badly the media tried to play it that way and one cannot make up evidence just to get a charge. The prosecutor went through everything to figure out what evidence is there what charges could be brought etc.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. God's Law

    If Martin did in fact attack Zimmerman, then he got what he deserved. On the other hand, if it was the contrary, then charges are in order.
    Don't forget that this kid has a violent past, Martin that is, and like any 17 year old thinking he was invincible, that could very well be that he attacked Zimmerman.

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

      Also do not forget Zimmerman has a violent past.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      No, Trayvon was not the one with the "violent" past. That was George.

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

      are you telling me martin didn't have right to defend himself when followed by a stranger with firearm?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert

    Candace, accept to the truth. It is time for justice.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. status NO

    all y'al be trippin! this how we be do tings up in dis piece yo. there be a war layin out for years in da hood. youz just dont feel it cuz you on da other side.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • TonyMontana1

      Thank GOD we are. We don't care what's on the other side! You choose to stay there, so stop complaining about it!

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

      N's got grabage down the way.... WORD UP!

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

    Calling Jose Baez. Calling Jose Baez.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    Yeah, you're not racist...

    April 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Monet

    All these racist comments towards blacks! SMDH...You people should be assumed !

    April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    The way the news media is portraying Zimmerman is outrages, Yes he killed this kid, but lets get back to the real issue. He was not the happy go lucky kid who the pictures portray. He was not an A honor roll student. The guy wanted to stand up for what he felt was right. I mean how many of us have been harassed, robbed, or had family that was murdered by an african american. He was trying to protect what he saw as his home, just like any other person would do. But let the evidence show what it has to show. Let justice work the way it has to work.

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

      You know WHY 'Dirty Harry' is so admired? Because he get's the bad guy's? well that's only part of it, He ONLY get the bad guy's, never shoots a nun or innocent kid, get it?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kingofthenet

    Zimm ain't going be 'standing his ground' in Prison, i can tell you that.

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

      He won't go to prison because of all this media bashing of him and all the protests, bounties you name it. This case went into the toilet the day the black community and media tried and convicted him.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
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