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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Aaaaaah. Maybe it's for the best. The jiggs would have went wild if they didn't. I feel bad for George but it looks like the blacks need a sacrificial lamb.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • caliz

      You have refused to stop being stupid

      April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike D

      Didn't know "the Blacks" had so much power in this country.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Commonsense

      Looks like Travonn was Zimmerman's sacrificial lamb.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big B

      Chrissy u sound soooo stupid mayb u need to go get laid

      April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Commonsense

      Why are white people so evil? It must be true that your father is the devil. Cause you act just like him.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      How about, instead of calling him a sacrificial lamb, you state the truth. Trayvon, just like George, has a right to his day in court. I'm sorry, his FAMILY has a right to their day in court, TRAYVON'S DEAD! Regardless of who's fault it is, or is not, the public has a right to know the facts of this case, especially if the police dept in that area thinks it's ok for someone claiming to be neighborhood watch to carry a gun. They also have the right to know, that should a death occur, no one will be investigated. You really shouldn't be so flip about this stuff.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • KIMMY

      MISS CHRISSY, DID YOU SAY "JIGGS"? SO, ARE YOU STILL CONFUSED WHY SOME PEOPLE STILL BELIEVE RACISITS STILL EXIST? I AM A FAIR PERSON, RIGHT IS RIGHT, WRONG IS WRONG, BUT REFERRING TO ANYONE OF ANY RACE IN SUCH A DEROGITORY MANNER ONLY MAKES YOU SMALL MINDED, INSECURE, AND IGNORANT! I'D REALLY LIKE TO SEE YOU CALL SOMEONE THAT TO THEIR FACE! HOPE YOU'RE CARRYING, CAUSE YOU'LL NEED IT. HEY, THEN YOU CAN CLAIM SELF DEFENSE TOO, AND GET RID OF ONE MORE JIG-A-BOO! IDIOT!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Malcom

    I hope its nothing.....that little punk got what he deserved.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Malcom – you are a moron.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big B

      Malcolm guess what and zimmer is going to get what he deserve buddy jus keep watching

      April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jack johnson

    This will amout to an appeals case HE HAS ALREADY BEEN CONVICTED BY THE MEDIA. They sound like Nancy Grace!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dammorsox

    Really, be sure to post it on-line before going to pick him up to ensure he has ample time to skip the country. Post it big & bright so he will be able to see it clearly.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Farty McCloud

    You supply the chamber, and I'll supply the gas!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MrT.

    Kinda hard to charge someone who is rumored to not even be in the state anymore.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Deb

    The Washington Post asks "Can he get a fair trial?" This is a dumb question because the jury will be in Florida and Casey Anthony is chilling (well HIDING) somewhere!!!! NO ONE thought she would walk after all the lies she told to the police so I'm glad Zimm will be chargeed BUT I have NO faith in a FL jury!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Charlie

    Just goes to show if you get enough people behind ya and open your mouth you can get anything accomplished......oh yeah ya have to be black too...

    April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Yeah Charlie, because everybody knows the "blacks" have always had all the privilege in this country, right? Us poor white folk. Get over yourself. I remember seeing people of all colors demanding justice for Trayvon, not just "blacks." Your ignorance is astounding!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cooper

    Raise your hand if you did not see this one coming.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NlGGA

    zimmerman is a hero.

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

    I could see a manslaughter charge, but only because Zimmerman ignored the dispatchers request to not follow Martin. At the moment Martin started to attack Mr. Zimmerman (if Martin initiated the physical attack), Mr. Zimmerman had every right to defend himself with lethal force. However, It is because Greg Zimmerman initiated a pursuit which led to having to use lethal force that Greg should be charged with manslaughter.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      That's is George Zimmerman...

      April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyView

      @Rasheed
      "I could see a manslaughter charge, but only because Zimmerman ignored the dispatchers request to not follow Martin."

      How do you know that because all the evidence I've seen indicates that Zimmerman DID stop when instructed to do so. Listen carefully to the tape. When told, "We don't need you to do that", he answered "OK".

      April 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Black male law student

      your right but prosecution can argue murder because another crime had took place and that said crime caused death to someone...That is no manslaughter... now u ask what crime did zimmerman commit...well he failed to follow directions from a public servant and in essence also disorderly conduct.....also stalking so in my opinion that's murder....now the notion that it was a hate crime will be hard to prove but if there is enough evidence of it...then ut become a capital murder case in which prosecution may seek the death penalty...will it work probably not but all indications are saying that its much more than simple manslaughter....also it can interpreted that because zimmerman left the state he on the lam now if he left because he fearing for his life then ok....

      April 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jimmypage72365

    bring on the cnn race war.......remember shannon christian/chris newsome the media doesnt want you too

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raphael

      http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2008/10/27/skinheads-arrested-in-plot-to-kill-obama/

      April 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sam

    For all those who were against charging Zimmerman – probably mostly gun toting Republicans – there is no downside to charging him. He can have his day in court to prove his innocence. That is a lot more than Trayvon who will never get that chance to tell his story.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rasheed

      What's wrong with Gun toting as long as you're a legal and responsible gun owner?...BTW...I'm a true liberal all the way, but I carry a gun (with a permit of course) to protect myself and family)...What is wrong with that?

      April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyView

      @Sam
      "For all those who were against charging Zimmerman ...there is no downside to charging him"

      There's plenty of downside charging a man for defending himself against an attacker because it sets a terrible precedent. Am I to believe that if a 17-year-old 6 ft. 3 in. athletic young man attacks me with his fists, knocks me to the ground, continues to throw punches at me from above with full force and knocks my head against the pavement, I don't have the right to defend myself because I'm worried that some gutless prosecutor will charge me with a felony to placate the mob outside her door?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Just Me

    I will reserve further comments until I see what the charges actually are. But this is a good step in the right direction. This is a matter that a jury needs to decide.

    On another note, the fact that Zimmerman has been talking to the press and the Special Prosecutor without the consent of legal counsel points to the the same pattern of behavior that got him in this mess in the first place. He was told by the 911 operator to not follow this young man. Yet he did. And failure to follow those orders was the proximate cause of this entire disaster. And he has repeated to be hard headed even with his lawyers which goes to to show his way of thinking. The guy is simply a rogue. Anyway, as I said, this matter rightly belongs before a jury of his peers.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Noo

    Remember....Innocent until proven quilty!! What happens if and when they go to trial an he is found innocent??? Will that stop the mob mentality....or will this turn into another Rodney King?? People need to listen to ALL the facts....otherwise they are no better than animals!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165