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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    If you have a gun, 99 to 1 you plan to use it. Zimmerman was wait to shoot someone(that's why you have a gun.
    Treyvon was shot because Zimmerman was waiting for a reason to shoot a black person even if it was not
    needed.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • shawn L

      Most ignorant statement of the day, congratulations, thats quite an accomplishment!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kurt Davis

      That is one of the most stupid, ignorant statements I've read in a long time. You're saying that everyone who owns a gun only owns it with the intent to shoot someone?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Livefreeordie

      In order to get a Conceal Carry license you are closely investigated by Local and federal authority. You are finger printed and have to take extensive training on safety, accuracy and PROPER use of deadly force. Basically all with a CCW license are under the sheriffs microscope. If he just wanted to kill a black kid, do you really think he would go through all that scrutiny? Or would he just tuck an untraceable Saturday night special in his belt like the thugs do?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Anne

    I cannot beleive this man who had the legal rights to defend himself from this teen,,deserves this? Whats wrong in Florida where someone can't exercise this? Black or white this is just simply wrong,,this teen attacked him, for whatever reason one would only guess, regardless he got what he deserved, maybe its because the state is afraid of all the black issues that have come from this. I'm sick of hearing its a racial thing. Tell the Black panthers your charging them on grounds of threats and soliciating a bounty on a innocent man!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      How can you say that? Let say you're a kid and you're getting kidnapped, you're not going to fight? Where was trayvon's right to self defense? He didn't know who this guy was. dude was stalking him so he fought back. He was being followed, he got scared. I would have done the same thing.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • k

      so you were there? you claim the teen attacked him, so you must have been a witness in order to know this fact. No one was there and no one knows what actually happened. We may never know what happened. What we do know, is that Zimmerman was specifically told NOT to follow the teen. Based on that fact alone, he is 100% guilty. Had he listened to what he was told to do, none of this would ever have happened.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • LYJS

      I gues you were there right? You know everything that happened right? If you are going to have a biased opinion of this situation and not wait for what happenens in court then you have no right to ask that everyone else with a biased opinion that is opposite of yours let it go, move on, or leave it alone...

      April 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • pj3386

      Oh, Anne, you seem to have first hand knowledge of the case, since you state, definitively, that Zimerman was attacked. I take it you were hiding in the bushes somewhere during the incident?

      Here is a fact for you. Zimmerman claims that followed him back to his vehicle and attacked him. Trayvon was shot approximately 70 yards from the residence he was headed to...no where near Zimmerman's SUV. Try reading for a change.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Yeah, because a grown man (almost 30 years old) who is ARMED felt the only thing to defend himself was fatally shooting an UNARMED minor. Your idea of justice only makes me happy that you have no power to actually make it a reality. You should be ashamed for writing this, down right ashamed.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      I'm curious of how many people that are claiming this is self defense have children? With all the crazy and perverted people out here, what do you tell your kids about dealing with strangers? Instead of putting yourself in Trayvon's shoes put your kids in Trayvon's shoes. Let's say that Trayvon did hit Mr. Zimmerman, why wouldn't that be considered self defense. An unarmed kid coming home from the store clearly being followed by a stranger (that is not law enforcement) What would you tell your kid to do???????

      April 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • edgey

      If anybody had the right to Stand your Ground, it's Trayvon. Zimmerman was stalking HIM by his own admission. If I saw this guy following me I would fight back as well. The kid told his girlfriend the guy was following him,,Trayvon had a right to be afraid and to defend himself and as to what REALLY went down, we will hear about those facts when it goes to trial. I feel like Zimmerman shot the kid, realized he wasnt armed and then started staging everything to cover his a___. Different witnesses saw different things...He probably hit himself in the head to create an injury. If the kid was on the phone w/his girlfriend (which phone records support) up to the last minute, I dont see how this kid could have staged an all out brawl as Zimmerman is claiming.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zenichimaro

      Glad that the case will finally make it to court. I do NOT want to live in a country where you can shoot an unarmed person–black, white, purple, or otherwise–and just walk away, with your gun, no questions asked (well, no hard ones, anyway). This ENTIRE situation could have been difused if the cops had done their job and if the senior officers who decided to ignore their detective's recommendation to arrest Zimmerman had made a different decision.

      I don't care if he's found guilty or not, to tell the truth. I just think the justice system needs to be involved here, not the media!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • mygirl78

      Anne,i think Zimmerman got what he deserved.he would not be going to jail.and a teenage boy would be alive if he would of listen to the 911 operator when she told him not to persue the kid.but he did it anyway.and it must be about race with you to say a kid of any race deserve to die,shame on you.i see human life holds no value to you.you make us desent white people look like hateful hillbilly trailer trash.may god have mercy on your soul come judgement day!!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RUBIO

    No matter what, whatever racist comment each one of you has because Zimmerman is finally getting prosecuted, seriously grow up. Half of you are adults but surely arent acting like adults if your talking like a little kid thats hiding behind a monitor.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jrl

      tough guy look out!!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • dbrooks602

      RUBIO...thats so true! I think you should be Romney's V.P.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • pj3386

      Yeah, the cowards that used to hide behind sheets with pillow cases over their heads just hide behind computer monitors now. They are still cowards.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MmmRocks

    "Charges are merely a formality to keep Florida from burning. The jungle bunnies would be rioting, looting, murdering, etc if no charges were filed."

    I bet you also complain that blacks "play the race card" too much. Racism is a reality, not a metaphorical card.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NorCalMojo

    Great news for Romney. This'll push it into the elections. Sharpton has delivered Florida to the GOP on a silver platter.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. j

    Innocent until proven guilty.

    Anyone calling him guilty before a trial is a moron.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yo

    Wow. There really are a lot of stupid racist people out there. Even though all the facts haven't come out yet, what we do know is that the mainstream media is responsible for blowing this out of proportion. A witness saw Travon on top of zimmerman apparently beating on him since police reports say he was bloodied and bruised. NBC edits the audio of the 911 call to make zimmerman sound racist, a fact which is proven online and the original news reporter who broke the story made sure everyone saw a 4 year old picture of Travon before he became a neighborhood thug. And the president goes and makes everything worse.

    stop letting the mainstream media tell you what is true. they are owed by the 1% and the racist president in the whitehouse. All they want is to stir up a race war so they can move the military into your neighborhoods. They're already training for it. look it up.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Livefreeordie

    The only reason I agree with the prosecutor is because this confrontation was avoidable. On the other hand Zimmerman had every right to be on that sidewalk. I believe he will be found not guilty and sadly racial violence will erupt as a result.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. KC

    IF YOU HEARD ABOUT THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF TRAYVON MARTIN AND REALIZE THAT IT IS TIME WE ALL UNITED TOGETHER AS ONE AND SHOW LOVE TO ONE ANOTHER........PLEASE VIEW THIS VIDEO AND THEN SHARE WITH OTHERS....LET'S SEND A MESSAGE BY MAKING THIS VIDEO GO VIRAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uabd8xG4qNo&w=640&h=390]

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dean

    Watching CNN you'd think Trayvon was the first black kid that was ever murdered.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shawn L

    Rich, if it was a white man shot by a black man, and the black man wasn't charged because he claimed self defense, it wouldn't have made national news. Just sayin.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      White kids and white women who go missing or end up getting murdered makes NATIONAL news, so your argument is kinda lame.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jen

    He was found guilty the minute that the first rally was held. He will never get a fair trial.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • LYJS

      And I guess that's never happened to anyone else, black, white, latino or asian, huh? Injustice happens all the time and it's really telling that everyone thinks is so much more wrong because the victim this time is black and not of another race.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff

    George ZImmerman, You are charged with defending your life and property from a black person. As a white male you should know that you are required to surrender all property to any black person upon demand.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      you're a moron. If a grown man can't defend himself from a 17 year old kid (who is relatively skinny), and feels the need to kill that kid, then that grown man is a psychopath.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c2#/video/crime/2012/04/09/tsr-sylvester-man-beaten-baltimore.cnn

    LOOK AT THESE INNOCENT BLACK PEOPLE BEAT THIS BAD WHITE MAN

    YOU ARE ALL ANIMALS AND DESERVE TO BE TREATED AS SUCH

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MouseD

    Lord some of you really really need to learn a few facts here now....1. if Zimmerman is charged and arrested he will not be in general population in the Jail....your idiots to think he will be...he will be in protectived custory...the whole time....2. if he is guilty...and goes to prision...same rules apply .....he will be protected 24/7.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
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