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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Who cares?

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

    He will copp a plea. No way is he going to want to explain why he was following this kid, or how a 100lb 17 year old beat him down close to death...

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

      Q your another nitwit....get your facts right....Martin weighed 160 lbs...and is not 12 yrs old but a 17 yr old strapping HS football player.

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

      Well, If he was beating him down "close to death". Then I guess that would make Zimmerman innocent...which is the way it should be.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Josh

    Black individuals ( A large percentage of) have and continue to destroy the peace we want and feel around us.

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

      Good

      April 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will never evaporate!!! Never!!!

      That is sooooo funny!!! Where is the hidden camera?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Gee. That was a helpful statement. And what's it got to do with Zimmerman shooting an unarmed kid to death?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      @josh – some Black people's behavior do not represent the lives and actions of the rest.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bubba

      then move away from them cz they are here foreverrrrrr

      April 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Josh

    @Q he was 160 pounds

    April 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Christopher Johnson

    Im a black male from Alabama, now living in New Mexico. Black ppl have been in this country for 100's of years all we want is equal justice. The Gz case is much bigger, we all need to look at our self no matter the side. If you wondering not on any side. But like the Martin's parents, lets hear all the evidence.

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

      The same brothers marching and protesting for Travon Martin...would be the first ones to Bus a cap in his @ss in da hood. Blacks are just looking for a reason to complain and blame others. That is your nature and whites are getting tired of it!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    I wonder If this were a white man If as much attention would be There. Society has already convicted this man without a trial . Reminds me of the movie Twelve angry Men.

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

      Society wouldn't have had a chance to try this man in the media if the local law enforcement would have done their jobs in the first place.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      If this were a white man - i.e., Zimmerman lying dead in a grave - Trayvon would have been arrested on the spot, period. So your'e right, it would be totally 100 percent different if this was a dead white guy.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dean

    Blacks are just taking out their frustrations on a Hispanic because Obama has done jack squatt for them...

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

      Dean... you have singlehandedly posted the absolute dumbest comment ever recorded.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wm smale

    I am dumbfouded that a sitting US President would envolve himself in this matter. He, along with the media found Zimmerman guilty even before a trial. How many murders are committed in this country everyday, I don't hear the presidents voice taking issues with those. I find it ironic that when whites get killed it's business as usual. No matter what Zimmerman is charged with, his fate has already been decidied by a blood thirsty pulic. The President should feel proud of his input, even before knowing all the facts. Not there's a man I want running this country.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Oh yes, I remember when President Obama called the press conference and declared Zimmerman guilty. Gimme' a break. Turn off FAUX news for a second and quit allowing them to think for you.

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

      @wm.... that is probably the most ignorant statement I've heard today... the president, and nobody else for that matter has said this guy is guilty. All people have said is that there needs to be an investigation into the facts to make sure that this guy didn't just shoot a kid for no good reason. Cmon... if somebody shot you're kid a said it was self defense, would you just say ok... or would you wanna make sure it was actually self defense?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Name*Kris

    Time for Zimmerman to get what he deserved back in February. You CAN'T claim you were in fear while you have a gun strapped to yourself and chasing a 17 year old MINOR. I hope Trayvon did bust his nose....he's the one who was being followed for NO reason at all except the fact that Zimmerman took the law into his own hands without the right to do so.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patrick

    Conservatives are hypocrites. Always going on and on and on about "victims rights" and the rule of law. Well, Trayvon was the victim here. Got it? He didn't do anything wrong, except walking while being black and purchasing some Skittles. The police department did not do their job correctly. Heads will roll. We don't even know if there will be a conviction but arresting Zimmerman and filing charges is the right, just, and fair thing to do. So put aside your hypocrisy and racism and let the system start to work properly.

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

      You need to stop being clueless. You have no idea what your talking about. This shooting didnt happen because a poor black kid was walking down the street eating skittles and an iced tea. Martin actually assaulted Zimmerman and the physical evidence along with eye witness accounts prove that. Yes, Zimmerman followed Martin initially, but then Treyvon lost him in the complex. Zimmerman went back to his car where he was pursued by Martin, Martin then assaults Zimmerman. Under the law, martin is the aggressor and Zimmerman is protected by Stand your Ground. Anything that happened before that point doesnt count. Martin should have avoided Zimmerman or called Police if he felt he was being followed. Period.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      No, you have it wrong... Zimmerman was the victim in rightwingnutjob.com world. He has the right to defend himself from that young man black man he chased down because he is whiter than Trayvon, he likes guns, his daddy was a judge, and obama is black. Don't you get it?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      @ljburgher So then he drug Trayvon's body hundreds of yards from his truck because?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      What I find the worse are the people like Patrick who say don't be a hypocrite and put your racisim aside and in the sentence right before it say the only thing Martin is guilty of is being black. If that isn't trying to play the race card I don't know what is.
      Why don't they show newer pictures of Martin? B/c he will look more like a thug and not an innocent kid whose 10 anymore.
      If he's so innocent why was he suspended from school three times?
      What about the time he had a bag of jewelery and a screwdriver he used to steal it with?
      His parents only want justice that's why they trademark his name right?

      I'm not saying Zimmerman is innocent nor guilty, but most who say it's a racial killing aren't willing to look at at the facts . I bet if you were to look at both of the peoples rap sheets in a vacuum of what they do in their communities and how much trouble they have been in and that one person was shoot and the other was claiming self defense, you would easily say that martin was the aggressor and zimmerman was not looking at anything else then just that, so to say the Z is instantly guilty and it's an act of racial hatred you're only lying to yourself to meet your own agenda.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. We are ants to them

    Dear Media, America does not want this new race war

    dub dub dub dot infowars dot com/dear-media-america-doesnt-want-this-new-race-war/

    April 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Craig

    Why doesn't the news cover the hundreds of murders committed against unarmed individuals at the hands of blacks.

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

      Because blacks usually get their day in court.... and many times they aren't able to get off with a high profile lawyer like many whites do.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Black Thugs suck

    We should get rid of Martin Luther King day and make it Gorge Zimmerman day

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

      And what about Caucasian thugs? Are they okay? You know, there's a lot more white thugs out there than black ones. Do the math, simpleton. More white people in the country equal more white thugs. Stupid!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Don Pedro

    This Trayvon kid looks like a mean kid. Look at that mean smile.

    [This is another way to look at it, I dont mean this though as no one knows the truth except Zimm]

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

      Mean smile?? get your eyes checked you might be wearing the wrong glasses as Mr Zimmerman

      April 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Matt

    Well at least he will get his day in court, it's more than Trayvon got.

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