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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    The only thing we know for certain is that Zimmerman stalked this kid despite 911 telling him not to. He had no reason to shoot Travon.

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

      We don't know that for certain at all. Nice try though, twinkletoes.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ljburgher

      Not true, yes he did follow him (Stalking as you called it). But Martin actually ran and Zimmerman lost track of him. Zimmerman goes back to his car where he is approached by Martin and assaulted. That then puts Zimmerman on the defensive and the stand your ground law does apply. The shooting was not Murder. Martin was the aggressor and thats obvious by the wounds to the head and by the grass stains on the back of Zimmermans shirt. Martin should have avoided Zimmerman or called the Police if he felt Zimmerman was following him. Dont distort the facts by listening to sharpton and the media.

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

      No Lucky. All we know is that he shot him. Everything else at this point is uncorroborated hearsay. Let's wait for forensics and the autopsy before convicting Zimmerman and continuing to play the race card.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jeff

    they marched around town to get him arrested ...what if we march around town ...will they let him go .... never happen

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

      Start marching and see

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

      How about you put your kid in Zimmerman's path allowing him to be murdered, and let's see if you would want to march around town then.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kingofthenet

    You know why 'Dirty Harry' is so respected? Because he gets the 'Bad guy's' sure that's part of it, the OTHER EQUALLY important part is he NEVER hurts the innocent.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MmmRocks

    "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."

    That's the story Zimmerman said, which the police which took him in to custody said they did not believe and suggested files be charged. Just because Zimmerman said it, doesn't mean it's true.

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

      Wasn't it reported that the lead detective was going to has charges pressed but the DA and police cheif told him no?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Just because people march and insist Zimmerman did something wrong doesn't make it so either.

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

      The problem with that logic is that you believe Zimmerman version of the story...Which is questionable, because this altercation took place 70 yards from Trayvon Martin's home...NOT near the truck...he followed this kid almost to his house...It makes no sense that Trayvon takes off running...then decides to double back...

      April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dee

    Let's hope for an Osama like burial after they execute you Zimmerman so your worshippers don't create a shrine around your burial site.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WATCH THIS VIDEO ON CNN FROM BALTIMORE

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

    Every black neighborhood is like this. Thats why they are all in jail. Id love to meet these fine upstanding animals. Id make sure they never do it again.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      And that has nothing to do with this case, but your racism is showing....

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

      So tough, U scare everybody behind your computer and all!! way to be a tough guy/girl

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

      You wouldn't do anything but walk by scared.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brees89

    Martin's free will was taken away from him by Zimmerman. Zimmerman deserves his day in court, and Martin deserves to be represented. This should not be between Black and White but what is legally and morally right. It also goes to show just how subjectively this law (Stand Your Ground) could be applied and misinterpreted by local police officers, prosecutors on a day-to-day basis.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • War919

      It should not be about black and white because there is no white involved. This is between a latino and black.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. QMAX1234

    What does the Baltimore beating have to do with Trayvon? The white guy was drunk to a poop and didn't even remember it! Why get so stone for someone to rob you?

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

      has nothing to to with this, but "we" as black ppl should be protesting this too right along side this guy and his family!!!

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

    Good, lets get this over with. Forensics will prove who is at fault. Shot facing the gun mean self defense, shot in the back means murder... thats a basic rule in any court of law.Unless there is a witness Martin & Treyvons records will be made public for public ridicule and viewed for a jury decide. No racism here just basic law.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • duprees413

      Tony:

      Where did you go to Law School? Never ever heard of the way the corpse was facing in relation to the shooter as a prong on any test to determine self-defense. Go back to CSI re-runs and get a life.

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

      @Tony Where did you get that rule? From the Sopranos or your trailer park?

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

    Better very, very late than never, I guess.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ol' Yeller

    Yes! For you all you naysayers who thought Zimmerman wouldn't face justice because the Grand Jury was passed on all I can say is, 'Welcome to America'! Kudos to this Prosecitor for bringing charges.
    That being said, all I think most peopel want here is a fair trial and the evidence to be heard and a jury to decide. The evidence released, IMHO, shows that Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin and it was HIS ACTIONS which led to the altercation (if there even was one) that resulted in the death of this INNOCENT young man. Trayvon Martin IS innocent of any wrongdoing as it is not and has never been a crime to walk back from the store with your purchase (and defend yourself, if there was indeed an altercation).

    April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry48

      Sorry to tell you but Zimmerman will get off. This decision to charge was based on political considerations, not evidence. I would guess that any self respecting judge will dismiss it before it moves to a full trial. It was self-defense, nothing else. The special prosecutor was fearful of race riots, etc., and chose not to do his job.

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

      My God you are dumb. I won't get into all your stupid statements, just had to laugh at the moron who thinks everyone wants a fair trial (are you even reading the comments??) and yet you stated yourself GZ is guilty and TM is completely innocent. Not a racist, not a GZ supporter... just tired of you clowns who have already made your minds up without knowing all the facts.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dean

    Blacks have killed way more blacks in the inner cities then service men have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq the last 10 years...

    April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      And that has absolutely no bearing on this....

      April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • QMAX1234

      Dean, blacks kill more blacks? And this has to do with this case? In court this is irrelevant. That's like subcoming to peer pressure in highschool using the excuse that everybody else is doing it! Each situation must be judged in light of it's own evidence!

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

      Thank you for your irrelevant comment. Moving on.

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

    Justice needs to prevail if even that takes a little bit longer. No one is or should be above the law and misue law.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. joshua

    ok here i go no one knows the facts all speculation if it went down like george zimmerman said and i were him i would have shot him too. i dont believe that trayvon was innocent at all how did zimmermans nose get broken? too many people are jumping to conclusions this was not a child if he would have killed zimmerman would he be treated like a child i live in south atlanta and i have seen the thugs ive never been to a white neighborhood and seen thugs black folks need to do some house keeping

    April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      And you are jumping to the conclusion that Zimmerman's nose was broken. No blood,? 6 minutes of treatment in the back of an ambulance? Could he have not hit himself in the nose to help with an alibi? Your racism is showing...

      April 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hawk187

    What is the deal with all these tards on here making this a race war and calling all the white people racist? This is the problem with America today complain about race war and equality and never an issue till something like this happens than all of sudden race card, Sharpton and Jesse Jackson hit the street. This is insane it was an unfortunate incident where a wanna be cop ran into a wanna be thug, only bad things can happen when these two bump heads late at night, and for the record two minorities. Stop making this something its not, Zimmerman is getting charged and when 12 jurors can't agree watch the s&&t storm than, this arrest is to quiet the public court of opinion nothing less, if they had enough to convict earlier he would already be behind bars.

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