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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Mob mentality at its worst.

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

    I pray for all you prejudice people, may god have mercy on your souls

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

      Amen. This country is filled with black racist. Angry blacks with a chip on their shoulder.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. noel

    now for real news the libbys @ cnn don't want to talk about...
    We are asking everyone to say a prayer for " Dark horse" 3rd

    Battalion 5th Marines and their families They are fighting it out

    in Afghanistan & they have lost 9 marines in 4 days. IT WOULD BE NICE TO

    SEE the message spread if more could pass it on. Nothing in the media about

    these guys.

    Justin Allen, 23, Brett Linley, 29, Matthew Weikert, 29, Justus Bartett, 27,
    Dave Santos, 21, Chase Stanley, 21 Jesse Reed, 26, Matthew Johnson, 21,
    Zachary Fisher, 24, Brandon King, 23, Christopher Goeke, 23, Sheldon Tate,
    27.

    All are Marines that gave their lives for YOU this week.

    OBAMANOS!!!

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

      Marines die every week, what do you want?

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

      No doubt The Marines are giving their lives for our freedoms. But when you use the sentiment of the story of their ultimate sacrifice to take a political swipe at liberals and their commader in chief, you no longer honor the lives of these beloved countrymen. Did you consider that some of the names of the deceased may have been Democrat or Liberal?

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

      Thank you for the reminder of the courageous men and women fighting and dying for our freedom. May God bless their families and give them comfort to restore. Though war seems inevitable; the loss of life is something we never grow accustom. For their service and sacrifice, we salute them. Please know there are those among us who pray for our military men and women; soldiers serving around the world. God bless you. God bless our president. God bless the United States of America.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jim mccarthey

    LONG LIVE GEORGE ZIMMERMAN

    April 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. paulr50

    Nobody can find him. Hope he got out of country and went someplace with no extradition treaty with U.S. Private citizens put a bounty on this guys head. WHere is the Justice Dept on that. Welfare pimp Al Sharpton calling for outrage. Yup, would be nice if justice was served, in court, not in the streets.

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

    Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't Zimmerman have been arrested then been released if it was proven that it was self defense?

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

      He WAS taken to the police station in handcuffs and interrogated for like 6 hours, if that's what you mean.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andi

      Roman: that's what this Martin/Zimmerman thing is all about...there was no justice. Zimmerman did get arrested and was released because the police at that time were the JUDGE AND JURY and that was it until people started to protest. Zimmerman can't claim self-defense saying that Trayvon followed him to his truck...Trayvon was found on one side of the complex and Zimmerman's truck was on the other. That's not how Stand Your Ground law works. I'm glad there will be a trial.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blake

    Why is this everyday, frontpage news with CNN? Hmmm. Perhaps relentless promotion of a leftist agenda.

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

    My vote was for Obama. Not anymore.....

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

    Why has this case gotten so much attention? There about 30-45 black kids that die every week during the summer time in Chicago. I don't get it.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tricia29

      In this case the police had the killer and they let him go. That's much different than trying to find a killer.

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

    Everyone is making this a black and white thing but remember Zimmerman is hispanic. What will you do if he is found innocent and kills a 17 yr old white boy?

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

    LONG LIVE GEORGE ZIMMERMAN.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jim

    I dont get it.....this kind of crap happens everyday in Detroit. No seriously, everyday. So.....How come this story is so special????.....and I love reading the ignorant comments from both sides. The truth is none of you know a damn thing about either one of them.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tricia29

      What makes this story different is because in most cases of murder the police don't know who the killer is, but in this case, they did and he was let go with out an investigation

      April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. paulr50

    The kid was in the morgue for 3 days before mom and pop found him. Shows they really cared to know where he was.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      He was not. They found out when the cops showed up and told them, just like any other parent would find out about something in the middle of the night.

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

      As I understand it, Trayvon was a John Doe for only 24 hours or so. His parents found him almost immediately after he was officially a missing person. @DC1973, Trayvon had no ID on him when the shooting occurred. They didn't inform his parents because they didn't know who he was.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jim mccarthey

    LONG LIVE GEORGE ZIMMERMAN..

    April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Church

    Yeah!

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