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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    If he takes a trial by jury, it will take forever to select a jury. Prosecution will want to pack as many black faces on the jury as possible, defense will want to pack as many whites/hispanics/asians as possible who won't vote based on race, but on the facts presented.

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

    Interesting enough zimmerman is allowed to stand his ground but Trayvon is not? Trayvon is a thug because of what? Isn't Zimmerman the one with the past of assulting others even a police officer?

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

      He is considered a thug becasue of the pictures he has posted all oevr the internet with the gold teet and the flipping of the bird to the camea or maybe is what the fact that he got caught with weed at school i think it was, or maybe itwas the fact that he had jewerly and Burglary tools on him. Zimmerman is either guilty or innocent but at this point NO ONE KNOWS THE 100% TRUTH anyone spotting of either party is guilty is a idiot because we do not have all the facts plain and simple

      April 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. garyc42

    Its nothing but a black thing.All the ACLU or NAACP has to do is throw their two cents into it and its nothing but a racial thing.I guarantee you if it would have been a black shooting a white they wouldn't say nothing.I am so sick of all this racial crap everytime something happens to someone who is black thats all they want to bring up,is its racial.

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

    Anne....what makes you think Trayvon attacked George???? Because George says so??? Who had the gun and who had skittles and little else. Exactly what kind of bodily harm does a guy do with NO WEAPON??????? And I beg to differ with you....Black you would...White you would not. If you're sick of hearing about this "racial thing" then maybe White cops and White people need to STOP assuming that all Black youth are out for no good. I'm thinking about my 17 year old grandson right now (as many other parents of teenage Black youth are thinking) that it could have been them. My grandson is afraid of lighting. He worry's when his mother isn't home exactly when she says she would be home. In fact, he seldom like to be home alone. Does this sound like a trouble maker to you???? You probably couldn't give a damn...but it means a LOT to me and the thousands of other parents of good, clean, respectful, Black boys. You better get a life girlfriend. I'm gettin' heated just writing this...just having to spell this out to you. Assuming and pre-judging is whats going to take this country down. No need to wait for foreigners to do it...we're doing a darn good job of slowly but surely obliterating each other off the face of this earth with no help from all the Middle Eastern countries that can't stand our guts.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. monii reaves

    ok..nobody asked to be the color they are! really who are u blaming for being white or black? he should of stayed in his car period..who was he protecting by getting out his car? him? HOW? it makes no since at all..i believe in my heart that there is someone getting paid to write some of these cruel words I cant imagine people being so mean. im glad that i have a good life and i dont hate everyone..your life must suck to hate and hate you live with so much pain of hating black people or hating white people..may god bless this world..there are good people in this world that make a difference im glad im one of them..and i bet u cant tell what color i am??????

    April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. We are ants to them

    They're placing an illusion of a race war and the media is helping to push this into reality. They want us to fight. They want us distracted.

    watch?v=Us_Q12xWjmM

    you toobe it ^ ^

    April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. EddyL

    Bet Zimmerman turns up a suicide.....

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

      Yes, he's a coward so I wouldn't be surprised.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. useemenow

    I got to tell you I am tired of all the hate. Lets set some things straight...bad things happen and bad things happen to good people...its reality. I have no opinion on Zimmerman or the kid. I believe the justice system will straighten it out and if the evidence shows Zimmerman was at fault then he will pay, but remember it might show he was not at fault. Some of you might not like the law but it does exist in Florida to protect yourself. I see no color and never had....if you bleed red thats all I need....the color of your skin means absolutely nothing to me
    I am more upset at the parents, the media, the so called religious people all jumping on a band wagon...so sick of it. I question the mother who applied for trademarks because she wanted to reap the benefits of her boys death. I see the media milking and creating hate with their unfounded stories and false or improper reporting (racial slur leak...there was no racial slur). Sharpton and Jackson need to stay the f@#$ out of this...all they do is try and stir the masses to prove their point which no one want to hear anyway.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CKpetrone

    Please Shut about the video FFS, NO one and i repeat no one can tell if he had a broken nose or injury on the back of his head from that video. So please move on i mean really someoen said i did not see any grass on his jacket, really are you serious? Some other DS said they did not see any blood on his shirt. Again pull your head out your A. I have had a broken nose you don't gush out blood like a fountain. Wondering where the rally is for the white guy who was beating and then stripped of his clotes, wallet, watch shoes etc etc etc. Oh wiat i fogot we can't rally around that because well it would be considered racist just because the guy was white who got the crap beat out fo him. It's a sad day when you can't rally around someone when they get hurt just because they are white.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stand Your Ground

    Trayvon was standing his ground against someone stalking him in a vehicle. If I'm walking along peacefully minding my own business and someone is shadowing me in a car, then I turn down a different street and the car still follows me, then the person inside the car exits the vehicle and comes after me, you better believe someone is going to get cracked in the nose. Trayvon was acting completely within the scope of the "Stand Your Ground" law. George Zimmerman wanted to be a tough guy, a cop wannabe. When a 160lb BOY started to get the better of him in fair hand to hand combat, Zimmerman, being a simpering, sniveling coward, pulled a gun and shot the kid. Trayvon was the one standing his ground. Trayvon was the real man. George Zimmerman is a coward for using a gun in a fair fight against someone who weighed 20lbs less than him. PROSECUTE THIS MAN.

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

      best post ever..agree!!!!

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

    I love how the mainstream media continues to use a VERY outdated picture of this 'kid'. Trayvon Martin was a thug. Look at his twitter. Look at his Facebook. I highly doubt this guy shot him out of nowhere, especially when Trayvon has a history of violence and drug distribution. More than likely, this 'kid' got what he deserved.

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

      Brian do you have a mirror? Check YOURSELF out.

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

      @ Brian I live in Chateau Elan(gated community in Georgia. There was news coverage today of a 17yr old white male student with the last name "Zimmerman" (how ironic) that participated in destroying public property with graffiti near my community. He was supposed to be the valedictorian but instead he's charge with a felony and suspended from school. So does this make him a thug because most of you make the argument that Trayvon was a thug after painting graffiti on the walls of a school. What's sad about this case is the white student complained about the punishment doesn't fit the crime. He tried to exercise the privilege of his "white skin" but it didn't work. The charges and suspension were upheld. Moral of the story is kids make uninformed, silly decisions, but as adults we should no better. George Zimmerman knew better!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SC

    A man who shot a unarmed individual who was a guest in the community has been charged. These facts are uncontroversial.

    In a sane world, this is normal. The racist ranting can continue but it doesn't change the real facts of this case.

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

    The right move. This doesn't mean the guy is guilty, only that a judge and jury will hear the evidence and determine whether this was actually self-defense.

    Which is what I never understood in the first place... "Self-Defense" is a legal defense that must be proven by the person who killed somebody, not disproved by the prosecutor

    April 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. moosie

    We will ever know what really happened and that is the shame of it all.

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

      Agreed, but at least now a judge and jury will hear the evidence.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ZIMMERMAN

    If Zimmerman turns up dead it was probably anothe rblack thug who killed him

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