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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    LONG LIVE GEORGE ZIMMERMAN...

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

      He probably will live a long life. Trayvon, however, is dead. Which is kind of the point.

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

      Yep, he will live very long in jail idiot...

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

      i AGREE ... IN PRISON WITH ALL BLACK CELL MATES !!!

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

      that's what bubba will be hoping about zimm's booty in prison

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

      How come Zimmerman looks so ugly, stupid and dopey? Genetic?

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

      Yeah, Long live in jail... he is gonna bl taken care of there...Hooohhh!! i can only imagine...That is why zim is on the run. He can see HUGE bananas from where he is. I guess now he wants to take Martin's place.

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

      with Zimmerman being charged I expect every Trailer Park to Riot.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pro Zimmerman

    I just wonder if it was a black man shooting this kid if there would be so much controversy and media Bull****? and if they would already try this man as guilty? Just food for thought!

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

      Not a chance. This was never about race to begin with! Media hype.

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

      No, there wouldn't be much controversy, because the kid would already be in jail.

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

      You had to know this was coming. Bowing down to minority pressure! BS at its worst. Would never happen had the shooter been black!!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Hear about the black men beating, robbing, and stripping naked the white man in Baltimore? Oh, and they filmed it all, as other blacks watched and laughed, and then posted it on the Internet. Of course, that's not racist, they're black.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. amac

    Because the prosecutor declined to present the case to a grand jury, the most Zimmerman could be charged with is manslaughter. Period. That's the law.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      Wrong. The only thing he can't be charged with now is 1st Degree Murder. There are a whole lot of other charges aside from Manslaughter.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenboe

      First degree murder is off the table....second degree and manslaughter are still there.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Amy

    CNN get the facts don't creat a race war!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! again and again!!!!!!!!! enough is enough.

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

      LOL, calm down. You will be fine.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • burps

      1...2...3...4...I declare a race war!!! You are exactly right. Wish more people saw what we see.

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

    zimm is going down, in some court; court of public opinion, court to determine his time in prison, court to award a major wrongful death law suit settlement, etc. Zimm is Fed and he can only blame himself. So mush for self defense!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mauidano

    Let the rush to judgement continue. Let Al Sharpton continue on with his gluttony of the spotlight. Let the media continue to try and dictate the emotional direction of justice. This was never about race in the beginning but it sure is now. Mass hysteria.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ac

    Zimmerman is scared enough by now, dumb and uglyas he is, he will be on the run in fear.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jeff

    Its just does not make since.... If they really thought he did something wrong he would have been arrested along time ago.... i guess all u have to do is gather up a bunch of people and walk down the street ...... if there were people marching for zimmerman it would be a big problem

    April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jamaal

    God Bless America! The last Presidential election and more likely than not this one in 2012, proofs beyond a reasonable doubt that America is not a racist country. Some Caucasians hate groups such as the Neo-Nazis and even some Afro-American groups like the New Black Panther Party think they are the majority. –That God they are not (God Bless America)

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

    Even if Zimmerman was acting in self-defense he fatally shot an unarmed 17-year old child. Regardless of color – but also realizing the ridiculous threat that society perceives of Black males – or even the fact that Zimmerman was ordered to stand down but found it reasonable to confront someone without acknowledging that the individual will retaliate offensively (therefore, the scuffle between both individuals). Zimmerman did not have the right to release his firearm on an unarmed person. The most he could do was punch him out unconscious. However, I need to understand the roles of Rev. Sharpton and Jesse James in this case – for reverends or "men of God" they seem to be bent on retaliation. Their goal should have been to reach out to Zimmerman and his family, come up with some form of mediation to determine the truth, and not point accusing fingers and ring-lead protest marches. I hope justice is served to both parties. For whatever happened that fateful day, only God knows and will bring justice. For now lets leave it to our corruptible justice system to resolve the issue.

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

    What happen to do unto other as they do unto U !!!
    As human being Black or White

    April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ac

    Why not just hand Zimmerman over to the Afghans. They will mete out swift justice within one day.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yuri pelham

    Time will tell.

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

    Kid is Black. Obama is black. George is Hispanic. George goes to jail.

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

      Couldn't have said it better!!

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

      umm ya the black kid is DEAD he has no chance of anything who cares what color they are geesh he shot someone over skittles for goodness sake ...was he afraid of getting fatter?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RAMBO

    To survive a war, you have to become war!

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