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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    I do not want to really post a comment on here! I read a lot of negative comments with race remarks. Especially the comment left by whomever is,ZIMMERMAN IS A HERO.CNN you should be ashamed! I guess no one is monitoring these comments.Down right ignorant! People of all races ,male or female in this world commit the most terrible crimes.And you are uneducated! Who said you are perfect and without sin and well mannered?That post should have been deleted!!!!So I am taking my intelligence elsewhere! Not worth my time! The USA IS SO RACIALLY DIVIDED AND FULL OF HATE AND QUICK TO JUDGE ONE ANOTHER!

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

      @Charmaine – That's funny. You chastise everybody else for 'judging' one another, yet you make it perfectly clear that Zimmerman is automatically guilty of a 'most terrible crime'. Says who? You? Define 'intelligence' for me, and then feel free to cast the first stone. You're just as bad as the rest, so feel free to climb down off your pedestal, before you get knocked down.

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

      Yes, you're right, thanks to the media over blowing stories like this. It is a sad situation, and a life was lost that shouldn't have been, but when NBC purposely doctors the 911 call to make the story fit it's agenda, what can you expect?

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

      Does your ire include blacks that you feel are full of racial hatred, or just whites? You didn't like someone writing that "Zimmerman was a hero". Does it also bother you that many people wrote "Zimmerman should die and go to he77"?

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

    You can certainly tell the neanderthal trolls from the intellectual posters on here, when you compare both lack of grammar and longevity of words. Not to mention, they'll have "Die, die, die, Zimmerman" on their childish rants, as well. Ladies and gentleman, the American cesspool is now online!

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

      I think you mean "length" of words. "Longevity" means "long life," and I'm pretty sure words aren't alive. I'll give you a C+ for taking the time to at least try to sound somewhat intelligent.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. billy313131

    no one is looking at the facts....and the facts are he did it in self defence. All you people are using this for personnel gain.

    I am not Trayvon Martin ...because i would not put myself in that situation...

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

      "I am not Trayvon Martin ...because i would not put myself in that situation" You wouldn't go to the store to buy skittles? Aww poor you.....

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

      What facts, please enlighten us?

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

      Trayvon had the right to defend himself from a psycho stalker. Zimmerman started it and then he finished it. And now he will go to jail for murder. Justice.

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

      dude are you serious?

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

      You don't know the facts. No one does. It doesn't matter though, he's guilty because the mob demands it. He won't get a fair trial.

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

      Good to know you'd never put yourself in the "situation" of walking home from a convenience store. I guess you never leave the house?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheena

      You mean you would not walk down the street? That law is a joke and needs to be seriously re-written. Trayvon is not the first person who has died by someone in claims of self defense! A "KID" died. A 17 year old kid. If it was you in Zimmermans position you would probably shoot him to because you didn't want to get your a$$ beat, "supposedly"

      April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • tee

      In what position , walking home mind his own business and being followed by a man that 911 told not follow in the first place. No, you aren't "Trayvon Martin, you are what every human should avoid being.

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

      Remind you that the dispatch told Zimmerman not to follow the man, but he did it anyway.. All this could have been avoided if Zimmerman would have done what dispatch told him to do.. Treyvon didn't know who this man was following him, for all he know it could have been someone out to hurt him as well.. So those are the facts..

      April 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • billy323232

      Exactly what situation did he put himself into? Walking down the sidewalk or defending himself against an armed, adult male nearly 2x his age?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joyce

      I agree with Billy313131, and most of the responses to his post are just silly.

      Let's see. Trayvon could have answered Martin's questions. Trayvon could have gone home and stayed there when he had the chance. Zimmerman had lost sight of Martin, then remained on the phone with dispatch, without following, for a good 75 seconds. There was absolutely no reason for Martin to have gotten closer to Zimmerman, close enough to get physical, rather than further away from this man he saw as a 'threat'.

      I think the 'situation' billy is referring to is punching Zimmerman in the nose and beating his head on the sidewalk, when he had the opportunity to get himself on home safely.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jack Calvez

    Reminds me of the OJ case many years ago. The state attorneys office knows they can either charge someone in Sanford or risk riots in the city. It also helps out the talking heads on TV who will now have another case to talk about 24/7 and profit from all the viewers (remember casey anthony?). In the end, a hung jury will lead to a plea bargin...perhaps aggrevated assult...maybe 5 yrs in protective custody....with gain time...less than 24 months....a book deal...a TV show....a new internet site...and a mother still missing her child for the rest of her life. People in Miami don't like being followed at night....and Georgie learned that the hard way when Trayvon punched him in the nose and started slamming his head on the sidewalk (per multiple witnesses). The VERY last thing poor Trayvon expected was that "the some weird guy" who was following him had a gun....Welcome to Florida Baby! May you rest in Peace....'cause with what's coming now, we sure won't be able to!

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

      it wasnt the OJ trial it was the Rodney King beat down....

      April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Voice Of Reason

    The media already crucified Zimmerman. Now, with a trial, the truth about Martin will emerge. That boy's going to get dragged through the mud!

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

      Zimmerman is the one with a history of arrests and violence, even against police. He's done for.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    RACE WAR NOW -– YOU CAN FIGHT IF YOUR NOT A FELON AND CAN LEGALLY BUY A GUN That leaves 95 percent of black people out of the war. So they lose by PROXY.....

    April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Wade

    Charged, not because they can find a crime he committed, but because of the lap-dog liberal lemmings in the press and the Democrat-Media complex.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Innocent

    Home Holder and the Panthers are charged also.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. M.Patel

    Who will charge all the black teen robbers, who have killed innocent immigrant convenient store owners?

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

      im sure the blacks that killed will go to jail also. this isn't about black and hispanic, it's about what's right.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Paul

    Martin never had one brush with the law and by all accounts of his teachers he was a polite and gentile kid. Zimmerman had three arrests for violent acts and was subject to a court orders from people he harassed. Additionally Ziommerman had a juvenile record and Martin does not.Zimmerman's three arrests didn't result in convictions because his father is a judge. If the situation were reversed and a black adult with three arrests had shot a with kid with a squeaky clean record you can bet the black guy woudl be in jail

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

      Clearly, you're ignoring the other side of the story, because it's common knowledge, by now. Martin was suspended from school three times, one of the times being found with traces of pot, a large, flathead screwdriver, and an assortment of women's jewelry in his book bag. He was a thief and a druggy (which, nine times out of ten, is redundant). Also, Martin flipping the double bird on his Facebook page was a nice touch, as well. Clearly, clearly, he was completely 'innocent', right? Lol.

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

    Ok, @iWillNotLose, so what about his German side? Just forgetting about that?

    @asdfasdf all I'm saying is that to say he's "Hispanic" isn't accurate. Let those Neo-Nazi's in his town, protecting him, claim him. (and Frank is my name, I don't understand the joke. Ohhh you must only know Hispanics with names like Jose, Juan, or Pedro, huh?)

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

    OJ trial 2012

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

    The black community has shown themselves to be nothing but animals. When I heard the comments by the black panthers it made me physically ill. This is America under Obama. This is black America. A country where you can no longer defend yourself against a person of color.

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

      Hannity is inciting the race war by spotlighting an insignificant fringe group.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafee

      first of all not all black people are they same, to classify people the same by some comments made is just plain stupid

      April 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wade

    At least charges are being brought by the State of FL so Holder's racist Justice Department doesn't get a hold of it and make it an unfair trial

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

    AG Eric Holder speaking at conference sponsed by Al Sharpton, stated Justice department will take action if evidence that a Federal civil rights crime was comitted. If Florida does not press charges the Government will step in a pursue this case.

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