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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    He is good guy just defending himself. This is the time of obamo though.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      what?

      April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • krozar

      Defending himself against Skittles :/

      He stalked a kid. Lost the fight. and then went up and shot him.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • VI CANDY

      @ chrissy what does Obama have to do with Zimmerman killing Trayvon?

      April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyView

      @VI CANDY
      @ chrissy what does Obama have to do with Zimmerman killing Trayvon?

      Obama entered into the fray when he made the comment that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon so it's not out of place to mention him. Is it Zimmerman's fault that he doesn't look like Obama? The President shouldn't take sides before all the facts are know especially when there's evidence that his "son" attacked someone.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Callen

    This is the biggest pile of BS. Just because he killed a black man he is going to be railroaded. If it were the other way around the blacks would be screaming and protesting his innocense. Why is the prosecutor giving in to a bunch of people who think the world owes them time after time after time. They want equality then they should ask for equality instead of asking for everything to be handed to them on a platter. Giving in to the group who can scream and cry on camera the loudest is taking away civilization and going back to the middle ages.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • p

      Do you want a 28 yr old non-police officer with a criminal record driving around around your neighborhood at night with a gun – protecting you and your family & neighbors?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • SickOfNaivePeople

      You honestly don't have a clue, do you? It's people like you that make this country look bad. And for your information, there is just as much 'them' in Caucasian people as there are in other race. Pretty soon your race will be 'them'.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rowdyone

      I Half to agree with Callen. the only reason they are going foward with this and charging Zimmerman is to suck up to the black community so they wont riot. what a bunch of B.S. police dident find that he broke the law under Fla. stand your ground law.this kid was no angel? If he Hadent been suspended he wouldent be dead now!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • toomuchcoffeeguy

      People get arrested for shooting someone no matter what color they are.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      you are ridiculous, i don't know if you saw any other rallys but there were plenty of non black people protesting, over 70% of americans ( not just african americans) felt he should be arrested. there was no sucking up to black people- if it was sucking up it was to AMERICANS. and as a black man i can assure you i was not handed anything on a platter, i went to school and worked hard after defending my nation- nothing easy about it. talk what you know

      April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyView

      How many prosecutors would have the moral courage not to charge Zimmerman considering all the incredible personal abuse that would result? Corey would become the devil incarnate if she didn't file. She would receive hate mail ,death threats and calls for her impeachment. Her family as well would receive threats. Spike Lee would tweet her home address. Riots might ensue in which many innocent people would be injured or killed. In these situations we can always expect public servants like Corey to make the choice that requires the LEAST amount of moral courage. If it weren't for the millions of people clamoring for Zimmerman's blood, Corey would never ever consider charging him, given all the evidence that exists that Zimmerman defended himself against an attacker.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jon

    The guy belongs in a mental hospital, he was beyond obsessed with that neighborhood watch "duty". I think he got the crap kicked out of him and shot the kid because he was terrified someone actually defied his neighborhood watch authority. Doesn't make it self defense though, his life wasn't in danger. Anyway, not sure there's enough to convict him of murder, but after the Casey Anthony debacle, FL citizens are out for blood so who knows.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • chas

      Oh, so you were there when it happened?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    If he committed a crime, why wasn't he charged with one over a month ago? Why the wait?

    A local crime story goes national a month after the fact and NOW, after the MSM has already convicted the guy in the court of public opinion and pretty much tainted any jury pool with their selective edits of 911 calls and masking of video that corrorborates Zimmerman's story, they're going to charge the guy. It has already been a tragedy for everyone involved. Now it becomes a travesty.

    Can anyone say sociopolitical pressure on the prosecutor?

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • toomuchcoffeeguy

      Probably no different than the "drop the case" "the shooter is the son of a federal judge" pressure that originally compelled her to ignore the case.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Stephanie

    No matter his guilt or innocense, the media has already tried him and convicted him (as well as the public).

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • p

      George is the one that is still alive.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Troll so hard Mods wanna Ban Me

    Meanwhile in other news, mass amounts of bandwagons were found abandoned by the zimmerman supporters.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raphael

      haha true, and nice post name

      April 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Semper fi

    We know how to come together and fight against injustice when the alleged perpetrators are white. However we're not quite sure how to deal with injustice as a community when the perpetrators look like us - and that is troubling, because when you look at the statistics, it seems the survival of the black community depends more on figuring that part out than dealing with the George Zimmermans of the world.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sidboxman

      That communithy doesn't care about the race on race crimes.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mo

      When you steal parts of a CNN article, try to post it on a diffrent site other than CNN itself 🙂

      April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      very true

      April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stephen A.

    I am glad. FINALLY!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Eli

    They would have to charge him with something now no matter if he was not guilty. If they said there would be no charge we would have marching and rioting all over. So at this point it is only to try and calm down the people who riot and march on everything.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • chas

      If the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to charge a suspect then the prosecutor will refrain from charging the suspect until any further relative evidence has been gathered (if there is outstanding evidence to be gathered). At no point does a prosecutor have to charge any suspect with any crime.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      if you don't like the way that works you are welcome to march to your local congressmans office and let them know that

      April 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • bayoubeauxns

      if you think blacks are the only ones that riot just wait until the next major sport championship and make sure you are looking in the crowd for whose flipping police cars and burning down stores in their own community- we all have flaws, pointing out one side is always half the story

      April 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. desilu111

    ??

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. joe t

    This is just a comedy of errors. Sound like the OJ / Los Angeles Police episode. A simple and immediate investigation would have quelled alot of issues. Now its gotten so far down the road and out of hand, that no matter what is said, neither side will be comforted or believe them. Throw in a career politician, under the guise of an Attorney General who chery picks cases, and all credibility is gone. Welcome to Flordia politics also know as the land of "The Hanging Chad".

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pat

    Pro-justice is not another euphemism for "liberal"................do ANY of the anti-liberals know the meaning of the word "liberal?" I think not, based on some of these posts.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brian

    I can't wait until this is all over. This dirtbag must be put away. The kid wasn't even armed. Gimme a break.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyView

      @Brian
      "I can't wait until this is all over. This dirtbag must be put away. The kid wasn't even armed. Gimme a break."

      Give ME a break!. All this "unarmed" talk is so misleading. Trayvon had fists! Fists thrown repeatedly with full force by a 17-year-old 6 ft. 3 in. athletic young man are capable of enormous carnage. Thousands of people every year are seriously injured or killed from fist attacks. Zimmerman didn't die like the others because he had a gun to protect himself.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. truth

    I hope trayvons parents are happy that they destroyed some ones family fools they well surly burn in the inferno for a while

    April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • p

      Blaming the dead guy. Weird.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • VI CANDY

      and which pot of boiling oil do you think you will land in? if it was your kids and he was prurple or orange or green and he was walking from the store with candy and an ice tea and was shot you would expect the criminal justice system to fully investigate and not release the man that shot your kid.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • 305ladyleo

      I guess the Zimmermans are happy that their child destroyed Trayvon's family too.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. James

    May justice prevail.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • chas

      "May justice prevail"- This is the correct response to this incident and trial by public opinion. Whether Zimmerman is innocent or guilty, may justice prevail.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
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