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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    They want us to fight each other.

    They want to Keep us distracted.

    We are Ants to Them!

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

    Shawn L, I guess you must've never realized the fact that whites never vote on race! LOL. Apparently you forgot that Obama was the 1st black president ever in America. So let's see how many white presidents? hmmm all of them. The fact of the matter is Zimmerman was told not to follow him and he did. Florida is notorious for kidnappings. Hence unless you have evidence we haven't seen it's obvious your racism led you to say that post!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marie

    @Matt Many people have had their lives destroyed by black people, they feel that the world owes them something, we don't.

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

      Marie This is a matter of Justice...so yes something is owed

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

      KK is a poooop head and imbecile.

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

      I guess you never knew at one point in America black people were slaves for over 500 years and discriminated against for another 100 years. And we ruin white people lives?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. We are ants to them

    yoo toobe it

    watch?v=Us_Q12xWjmM

    ^ ^

    April 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave From Philly

    Never for one minute did I think he would not be charged. Only question I had was if it would be murder or manslaughter.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sinfear

    So we have one black and one mexican? One got shot the other is locked up for life? Thats a win win in my book... 1) Get your green card 2) Get a job and stop using my taxes to support your crack addiction.

    Truth hurts

    April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • We are ants to them

      Stop voting in the same puppets.

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

      Get it together, racism is ignorance.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • illone21

      Crack addition? Lol. You get out much? Blacks do this...blacks do that. The white man has never done anything wrong. We'll just keeping swinging our 9 irons at your white women since you fail to get it done. Keep talking tough guy. What a clown.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tripper

    See ya Zimmerman and don't wanna be ya...

    April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. QMAX1234

    Marie, who are these many people whose lives been destroyed by black people? Did blacks invade America, India, Africa, Asia, etc. Please give us a history lesson so we can find out this wonderful fact or fiction of yours!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dixie Normous

    so Zimmerman is missing..If you see him..make sure to call the police and not wait for them to show up..

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

    IF Zimmerman is charged, and that remains a big IF UNTIL 6 p.m. Eastern Time, any resulting jury trial will very likely be as far away from Florida as possible because there is NO way he can obtain a FAIR and IMPARTIAL trial in his own jurisdiction.

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

    If this was a white teen who was shot to death this would not have even been a question if Zimmerman would have been charged with murder. The story remind me of a movie called " A Time To Kill ". If you haven't seen the movie I strongly recommend you to watch the movie.. The actors are Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson. I think Zimmerman is lying about that night because it sound like a boy is calling for help and then you hear the gun shot.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. illone21

    So many internet tough guys and girls. They love to make racist comments behind a keyboard while scared to leave their own homes.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • We are ants to them

      Freedom of speech homie.

      Enjoy it while you can.

      You don't have to agree but I agree you have the right to say whatever you want.

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

      Don't you mean, their parent's garage?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea

      @illone21, preach it! The internet disgusts me, it 1) shows peoples true colors and 2) is causing society to deteriorate rapildy

      April 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KAPPAMAN7 in Brick City

    wow some of these post threaten peace and humanity around the world not just CONUS....If Zimm did the crime justice will prevail....broad stroking an entire race of people is a dangerous game. people are people and some time you worst enemy can look just like you....Peace to you and everybody out there.......

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

    ALWAYS

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

    @Sinfear so you're saying all mexicans are here illegally, and all blacks have a crack addiction?

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