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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    @ Trixen, because a black man does not act like uncle ruckus, does not mean he is a racist. Because he is happy in his skin, and does not tip his hat to you, does not make him a racist. Black men have every right to be happy, proud and prosperous in this world Trixen. Now because many black man have been more successful in life then you, don't blame anyone but yourself.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 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 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Allen

    I cannot believe the harsh and insensitive things that many people are saying. A human being, a young adolescent child was killed for walking down the street. I do not care what Zimmerman percieved. He was wrong to approach a currently law abiding citizen and insighted a confrontation that could have been prevented. I do not care what this kid looked like. Many have said he was a thug, etc., but what does a thug look like. Criminals come in all shapes and forms, but we let the police do there job. What was this child doing this night. Not once has it been shown that this kid was breaking the law. Zimmerman himself, never mentioned a actual crime taking place. Zimmerman deserves to be charged and convicted.

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

      the media has been painting travon as a kid. all the photos are nice and innocent looking. we r the recent photos. free zimmerman. zimmerman is innocent

      April 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just the Facts Please

      Allen,

      Wow!!! You must have the upper hand on the facts or at least an inside scoop. Please share the FACTS as you have received them, apparently from the special prosecutor.

      "Zimmerman deserves to be be tried and convicted"... no Zimmerman deserves to have his 4th and 5th amendment rights upheld. If the special prosecutor finds that there is sufficient evidence to arrest under probably cause (4th amendment) then arrest warrant should be issued and Zimmerman arrested. If she does not, then he should not be arrested. (period). Now given the public outcry, the manipulation of NBC on audio tapes, CNNs strategic communications plan of sharing certain photos etc, I am sure that the special prosecutor will file manslaughter charges this evening at 6PM. Hopefully it is because the evidence dictates. At that point and that point in time ONLY, Zimmerman should be arrested. He will then post bail, and we will all sit around and wait for the court date. Then and only then, will we (apparently unlike you who MUST ahve the facts already in front of them), hear what the prosecutor puts together and the defense argues. If the EVIDENCE and FACTS show that Zimmerman acted in an illegal manner that resulted in the loss of life, then he should be sentenced. BUT ONLY IF THE FACTS SHOW THIS TO BE TRUE!!!

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

    I wonder what the charge will be? If it's murder 1, it will only be to apease the masses but the prosecution will lose. Didn't the Casey Anthony case teach anyone anything? There was some other case just a few weeks ago that was lost because the prosecution could not prove murder and should not have even charged that. I think this has to be investigated to the fullest but from what I know, which may not be everything, people are over-reacting.

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

      Some form of manslaughter is most likely. Proving murderous intent would be very difficult, indeed.

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

    Bob, you will evaborate as well. We are all human.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rudix

    how can we convict some one that was not charged yet?? i dont care black/white or any color... 2012 is here and our social structure is in danger....all at TheDimensionMachineCOM

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

    Isn't it amazing how fox news is trying not to jump to judgement on this matter- lord knows if he had killed a White kid they would have nailed poor George to the cross, poured gas on him and set him a blaze. Its funny that when blacks do something bad they are all over it, in a nasty hateful way, but when it comes to showing that all blacks are not bad, they refuse to report it. They should change the name of the channel to KKK news network. Because fair and balanced they are not.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WERE YOU THERE??? NO!!!

    Here we go again, tried and convicted by the media and the court of public opinion before the public knows a single fact in the investigation. Why doesn't everyone just shut up about this case until the ACTUAL EVIDENCE comes out. Every last person posting here who THINKS they know what happened is an idiot. The media has been pathetic in their coverage of this incident, so slanted it's almost unthinkable. One example, why do you only hear part of the 911 call up to the point where the operator tells him "you don't need to follow him", then they ALL stop the recording there instead of continuing to let it play where Zimmerman says "OK". Media bias. Richard Jewel anyone? There is a lot more to this story than all the narrow minded posters here know. Wait until the evidence comes out before passing judgement, don't base judgement on all the HEARSAY that is being spread around.

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

      all i had to read was the first sentence and liked this already... sadly the people think justice is through them! Justice lost this case as soon as CNN picked up this horrible case.

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

      Wow, there actually is at least one reasonable person out there. That's exactly right. We don't yet know how innocent or guilty either one of them was that day. Let them present the evidence.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pro Zimmerman

    That is such a stupid remark. What if you are not home to lock your doors and windows. You are being attacked somewhere in the street? Does that mean you can't defend yourself? Does that mean let them hurt you? Give me a break!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sistersolja

    Thank you Jesus... Justice will be served or first, he'll kill himself before he's brought in. 🙂

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

      zimmerman is innocent. its reverse racism to convict him.

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

    Not so, Yvonne.
    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 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TREEMAN

    so wrong. zimmeramn is innocent. just gov'mnet giving in to crying babies again

    April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LADELL

    F*** ALL YOU RACIST A*******

    April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. la vie

    Zimmerman first, the police second. All need to suffer the repercussions. It is evident to see what happened here: a cop wanna be on a training day(zimmerman), an innocent passer-by(Trayvon), dirty cops(the police)....and GOD. HE is watching...And for those who support Zimmerman, your turn is coming where you will be involved in such situation...Beware!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

    It just proves you can whine and scream and get your way regardless of whether it's justified or not. Well, unless you are white, then you have to gnash your teeth and bare it. Obama 2012 More free handouts for everyone! (Except the white people).

    Reality = Obama 2012 = Everyone is poor by the time he finishes.

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