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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Do us all a favor Zimmerman. Just do it, you know what i'm talking about

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

    Zimmerman did follow Martin, but Martin lost him in the complex so Zimmerman went back to his car where Martin re-appeared and confronted Zimmerman. A fight then ensued and zimmerman basically got beat up and was then in fear for his life so he shot Martin. No matter how you spin it, Zimmerman isnt guilty of Murder, thats the law. If this prosecuter charges him it will because of the pressure in the community and the state of Florida. The real Racists like Sharpton and Jackson are to blame for enciting violence with mis-information and non factual opinions. The media really screwed this one up as well so they are looking to save face with a conviction of Zimmerman even though he is not guilty based on eye witness accounts.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Star

      IF GZ WAS IN HIS CAR THEN WHY IS TM D E A D!!!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      1. I didn't know you were there. 2. People lie sometimes. 3. Trayvon just magically appeared out of nowhere as you describe?
      The whole thing sounds less believable than alice in wonderland.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      Ummm, no. That's Zimmerman's version of events. So I guess what you're saying is that from now on we should just skip the trial and always take the suspect's word for what happened, no matter how implausible? Because let's face it, Zimmerman's story doesn't add up and is contradicted by witnesses and the voice analyses of the 911 tapes.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      We know Zimmerman follwed Martin at some point. We know that Zimmerman says he lost him. And we know that therer was a confrontation in which Zimmerman sustained injuries and Martin was shot.

      Zimmmerman *says* that he didn't pursue Martin, and that Martin circled back, but that doesn't make sense, and it's inconsistent with the timeline.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • larry belyt

      Mr or Mrs ljburgher – You make your statement as a matter of fact... how do you know for sure this happened? where you there? or you just conviniently choose to believe on side, yet ignore the facts we know on the other side. How sad and pathetic.... go back to you church and continue deceiving yourself.. God is not partial.. dont deceive yourself. if u deny his word and disobey his laws..(read what the book says about you)

      April 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • chf

      Interesting justification for murder. Using that rationale, anyone who was beat up by someone could legally commit murder. If you haven't noticed, vigilante justice isn't the law of the land.

      You're quick to accuse others of making assumptions and jumping to conclusions, yet you've put forth a whole line of assumptions.

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

    On judgement day, there will be no court or jury to decide whether George Zimmerman is guilty.

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

    WE ARE ONE....IT'S NOT ABOUT A COLOR..IT'S ABOUT A MOVEMENT--–> THIS VIDEO IS A MUST SEE AND A MUST SHARE WITH OTHERS!!!!!!!

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

    April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MmmRocks

    "That is BS, if you are being followed, you run away not attack."

    If someone walks up to me with a gun and tells me not to run, I assume they're going to attempt to take me to a less public place to kill me and I fight for my life.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      I've been mugged. You don't run. Then they're definitly going to shoot you.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Star

    PEOPLE TREYVON WAS NOT ROBBING GZ HE WAS GOING HOME . HE WAS NOT COMMITTING A CRIME THAT'S THE DIFFERENCE !!!! WAKE UP HE WAS NOT COMMITTING A CRIME EXCEPT HE WAS A YOUNG BLACK MALE. WHITE PEOPLE COMMIT CRIMES TOOOO BUT THEY GET AWAY WITH IT SO OFTEN,

    April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      To some people, the very fact that he was a young black male makes him a criminal. They're the ones who don't want to see a trial–they didn't have 'em for things like this back in the "good ol' days"...

      April 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lucky

    Zimmerman stalked this kid

    April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MMS

    The bottom line – he should have listened when he was advised to not follow or confront Treyvon. Let a jury determine if he is guilty or innocent. You cannot allow citizens to carry guns and shot people because they “feeellll” threatened. If we allow this behavior, more innocent people may die. This guy was looking for something and he has now found it – I only hope that justice prevails!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wondering

      Not listening to the 'advice' of the 911 operator does NOT equate to a chargeable offense. It was common sense, and he should have done what they asked (and in fact might have been returning to his car on the advice of the 911 operator), but THAT in and of itself is not a crime.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NorCalMojo

    Now they have to find the 12 most ignorant and isolated people in Florida to serve on the jury.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Coastal0ne

    The entire situation is terrible. I hate that a beautiful child was killed and I hate that Mr. Zimmerman made a split second decision, to follow him while on the phone with 911, confront him and fire his gun. Now, both families have tremendous loses!

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

    It is impossible for George Zimmerman to receive a fair trial at this time and in this hysterical scream for his blood. The State has captiulated to the mob's demand for blood. And Florida has now guaranteed that the mob's tribute will be paid. The is the fiirst day of the new dictatorship – AmeriKa.

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

      Funny that you don't seem too worked up about the fact that Trayvon Martin didn't get a fair trial before Zimmerman made himself judge, jury, and executioner. Nor do you seem too worked up about vigilante justice, as long as the "right kind" of people are distributing it, I guess.

      Zimmerman shot an unarmed young man who was apparently minding his own business. He'll get a much fairer trial in Central Florida than Trayvon Martin got–or would have gotten had the tables been turned.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. liam

    Noone on Zimmerman's side could get their stories straight. This was imminent.

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

      Exactly. The father said "trayvon-you got a problem? well you do now". brother said "trayvon-you're going to die tonight". none of it adds up or works out correctly.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    j you're ignorant, learn about fire arms before you go make such a claim.

    Zimmerman won't be convicted of anything unless they somehow find some magic witness who truly saw everything. There is too much speculation and doubt to convict. No prosecutor in the world is good enough to make this case "beyond a resonable doubt" in the minds of any resonable person. This is just a formality to prevent rioting because a kid who wasn't the angel people make him out to be, was shot in a completely messed up situation.

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

    I don't understand why there is so much racism toward whites. They hate us so much but then again they want to be like us by dying there hair blond, putting fake color lenses and bleaching their skin. Food for thought.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Star

      YOU ARE A SAD SAD PERSON FOR POSTING THIS!!!!!!! JUST SOOOO SAD LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR AND MAKE A CHANGE

      April 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      @pro zimmerman – you are so ignorant. you are talking about the actions of a small amount of a race of people. We don't hate White people; we hate racists! some Blacks bleach their skins because of self hate and ignorance. the more melatonin you have in your skin: the better you'll age and you will have a lower risk for skin cancer. every women that dries or wears blonde weaves does not it because they want to be White; some of it's for style, the statement and different looks. if you consider yourself to have basic common sense, be honest and please ask yourself why would you post something so unintelligent.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      I made a mistake; the word is melanin not melatonin. I can admit that I made a mistake; can you?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jnewt

    It's all very sad. But all the pics they keep showing of Treyvon Martin are of a 12 year old little angel , and all of the oh poor me blame on the white guy folks are screaming racism. Enough already! He wasn't a 12 year old angel, he was a 17 year old young man, in the dark, covering his face and probably his hands, walking around a neighborhodd at night. You wanna scream racism, really. Look at the prison population,you wanna tell me that all of the black people are there because of racism??? Show the pics of Trevon with gold in his teeth and looking like a thug. I'd hold my purse alittle closer I know. Show us the school reports where he got kicked out of school for drugs. I'm not saying he was a bad kid, he was propably a very nice young man. The point to all of this is , there was a law that gave Zimmerman the right to do what he did if he felt threatened. Only God will know what really happened that night. Sadly two families have been forever changed and one man will have to live daily with a choice that he felt he had to make. Stop screaming this crap about racism and look at the whole picture. I'm so tired of hearing about how Zimmerman was the big bad wolf and Treyvon was a poor innocent child. Let's get the story straight people. I say if he gets convicted so should Spike Lee for attempting to incite a riot be tweeting an address that wasn't where Mr. Zimmerman was staying. So should the leader of this ridiculous black panther group that has put out a bounty on Mr. Zimmerman's head. So should the state of Florida for writing a law into the books that justifies a killing in the name of fear. Where does it end people?

    April 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Star

      WHEN DID IT BECOME A CRIME TO WALK HOME IN THE DARK. TRAYVON WAS WALKING HOME THAT IS ALL HE WAS DOING SO I ASK THIS IS IT A CRIME TO WALK HIM IN THE DARK. HE WAS NOT COMMITTING A CRIME PEOPLE REMEMBER THIS ALEAYS

      April 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      It appears those pics were of someone else. Was Trayvon wearing gold teeth the night of the incident? Whatever people found on Trayvon post 2-26, George had no knowledge of that night, so we need to stick to the timeline. Yes, they should have shown recent pictures from day one, but it would not have mattered because, according to George, he had his hoodie on. Spike Lee was VERY WRONG for what he did, some might even say criminal. However, he was able to take that back, can George? What witness accounts? The people who were scared to look out of their windows (justifiably of course)? You know as much as the 1,000 plus other people on here. He was dressed in dark clothing on a rainy night, my goodness, everyone should remember to wear their happy colors as to avoid being labeled a criminal. This matter was botched from the get go, so unless you were there and can provide an unbiased account, you are learning as much as we are. Oh and I wouldn't invest much into the police reports, especially since someone had to step down due to lack of confidence into the investigation.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
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