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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Why is Zimmerman a "white Hispanic" with his white father and Pres. Obama isn't a "white African-American" with his white mother? Don't tell me that both sides can't play the race card.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mountain Goat

      Because this about convenience and complimenting the narrative culture of "white men bad, black man good"

      April 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bryant

    I love how people accuse the media of trying to create a race war.... listen dummies... the minute you racially profile a kid because he's wearing a hood and shoot him... YOU are the one who made it a racial matter from the start.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      You have GOT to be kidding me, have you seen his pictures on his face book and twitter. Read the posts his little friends make. This kid was a THIEF and a DRUG DEALER. Zimmerman should be given a medal.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    Black people are just showing their true nature. They are animals.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Black folks are showing their true nature? How is that so when white men are going on skilling sprees in Tulsa?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • skarphace

      In this case, it is racists like you who are showing their true nature.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      And you are ignorant for making that statement

      April 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Wow. Thanks, Dave. That was a profoundly ignorant statement.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • dmstyres

      That is terrible for you to say. Every ethnic group has their own disturbed people.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • DM

      What on Earth is wrong with you Dave? Why so angry and misguided?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Olson

      You have issues. Get help. There's good and bad in every group, or people like Zimmerman who just make extremely poor choices. He'd gotten away with faking his aggressive behavior assaulting a police officer and his girlfriend until he murdered Trayvon.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astra2012

      Animals? Based on what? You racists need to use your heads instead of being stuck on stupid!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Swishy

      Funny, Dave. Black people didn't do the shooting, yet the victim was an animal?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick King

      As BLACK MAN... I totally 100% Agree! Just like a pack of Wolves preying on the injustice system, or a herd of wild Buffalo stampeding to a safer ground , WE as a people have "once again" come together to right a wrong. We ARE showing our true colors. the colors of UNITY my friend!! :O) If you have followed any of this story, it's CLEAR that BLACK people as well as Latinos, Korean, Indian, etc....and oh yes, WHITE people have all come together to seek justice! Thank you for your post. if it were not for people like YOU, we as a people may never have a reason to UNITE!!

      April 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dr.Gonzo

    If Zimmerman were white, Martin would still be alive. Everyone knows that African Americans look down on and feel superior to Hispanics. I see it every day. Had Zimmerman been white, Martin would not have confronted him and would still be alive.

    The fact that Zimmerman was Hispanic gave Martin what he felt was the upper hand. He was wrong. DEAD wrong.

    Let's talk about the White guy who got beat to a pulp bu a gang of black kids in Baltimore. I don't see Sharpton or Jackson consoling that family. Which in my mind makes both of them racists. Both of them ONLY come out of hiding when race is an issue. I see them nowhere to be found with the black on black violence.

    "I could be wrong, but that's just my opinion."

    April 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      You're right. You could be wrong; and you are. That's not an opinion, that's a fact.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cobra

      You are correct, the animals get away with being low sc um. Of course the little thug was as clean as new driven snow.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      You are a buffoon, Dr. Gonzo. So I need not address your idiotic statements, even though I just did. Crawl back under your rock.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      First of all Hispanics look down on African-Americans and if Zimmerman was white you know damn well Trayvon Martin would be dead.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • favors8016

      Yea, it's your opinion, but was TM following GZ or did I miss something? The dispatcher told GZ to stop following TM. So......what are YOU talking about? And if he was white? Wait...I missed something again. HE'S MIXED, right? Please re-read the facts Dr.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    Zimmerman charged with incompetence for not taking out the parent to.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • monii reaves

      ^^^^^^who hurt you for you to be so mean?..or are you getting paid to write stuff that is mean?..i believe you are a caring person really that loves all kinds of people..u might not believe in god but I believe that if you have a family or someone that you care about..and I will pray for you and the safety of the ones you love...just because i feel u are and can be a good person :)..

      April 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Swishy

      The correct spelling is "too." How about your incompetence?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. anywhereman

    Let the race wars begin...

    April 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Reg

    White people make the guns, the ammo, and import/distribute/use most of the drugs that are undermining the country. Stop doing so much wrong and you can stop being so scared.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rubes

    The people that should be locked-up are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. They should be in the same cell, so they can talk each other to death. These two are behind more hate and racism than anyone in the country.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Geri Chatmon

    The attorneys said it's about who struck first. Zimmerman, the stalker, had a gun, Trayvon, the victim, had a bag of Skittles. Are they saying that Trayvon should have waited until AFTER he was shot to try to defend himself? They say, Zimmerman wanted to "get the address to give to the cops" and that's why he left his truck to followed Trayvon on foot. If there was an address, then Trayvon had a right to be there! Why would the police need it? Zimmerman's father is a retired Florida Supreme Court Justice. That's why they did not arrest him and that's why this thing needs to be carefully monitored!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      One of thing that bothers me about this (among many things). If GZ regularly patroled this gated community and had been for a few years, why would he need to get out to check the address? If you patrolled it so much would you not know (at least ballpark) what the address is?

      At the very least you would know what street you're on if it is an area that you guard/patrol nightly. Another lie to justify shooting an unarmed, innocent kid?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sumday

    I really don't think race is involved here. Instead I think it is about a coward who was to scared to take a punch to face from a fight that he probably helped escalate. Just saying the key word here is reasonable threat, there are 100's of fist fights a day and very very few result in death, so was there reasonable threat of lose of life? That's a tough call- when we now know the victim was unarmed. I think if found innocent it would set the precedent that anytime you get in a 1 on 1 fist fight you have the right to kill the other person and claim it was self defense and that just seems wrong to me.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cobra

      Interesting how many people want to take the part of the thug that got what he had coming.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Swishy

      sumday, I totally agree with you. Whatever happened to the days when a good old fist fight took care of things? The fact is that nobody (even Neighborhood Watch captains) have any reason to take a gun to shop at Target. ZImmerman's story is too self righteous. He did absolutely nothing wrong? He didn't even help escalate the situation?

      And for all of you that call Martin a "thug," what do the actions of Zimmerman make him?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Al

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

    This is all the reason I need to hate every single one of you. This doesnt happen in white neghborhoods.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • liam

      It's a shame, but he should have been more aware of his surroundings and not so drunk.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lets

    Lets all just get along.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Woody Stemms

    After weeks of unmitigated BS, we're ready for anything. But, when the Governor appoints a notoriously aggressive prosecutor, the odds are she's willing to take a weak case to a jury in the hope that they'll bow to the will of the mob and convict Zimmerman of "something – anything" just to get Al Sharpton off their back..

    April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Thomas Jefferson

    Easy case- 1st lawyer to prove it's thier client screaming in the 911 call, WINS- I don't see the big deal.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      The 'big deal' is that we obviously live in a society where some people's lives are held in higher regard than others. By many of the comments on this board, I would say we have a couple or three more centuries of race relations before we can even hope for some progress. Some whites and some blacks are the problem.... (mostly whites, and I'm white)- just call 'em like I see 'em.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. liam

    As a CHL carrier I'll say Zimmerman's actions are the exact opposite of what a responsible gun owner would do.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
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