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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. jpw2012

    All Trayvon's parents care about is how much money they can sue for.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      Lose a child and tell me it is all about the money. NOTHING can make it right. The money will not help. I think they just want to know what happened. If it turns out their child was at fault then so be it. If not then they can at least know that justice can be served. However: justice in America is very odd and its service can upset everyone. There will be no end to this either way.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      You are disgusting and I really hope that you never have to go through the pain of losing a child, whether it be through an accident or a tragedy such as this. I don't know the Martin's but can pretty much guarantee they would give up an wordly posessions they had to have their son back.

      You should be ashamed of yourself. Cases like this sure do bring out the racists and wingnuts. Thank God I don't live in the good old USA with all of the red necks and racists that obviously frequent this board.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      jpw2012 can't lose a child, you have to have parents and someone to love you to have a child. He has neither.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      What a profoundly ignorant and insensitive thing to say.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bryant

    NOTE: If you have never been the victim of a race crime or racially profiled, then you have absolutely no ground whatsoever to accuse others of playing a race card.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • youknownada

      I'm profiled everyday because I didn't vote for Obama.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC

      Cool, thanks for letting me know I can use it.

      lol

      April 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Ask yourself if this was a black man who killed a white man what would you say. I think it would be a race issue. We can go back and forward all day. Now it's time for our justice system to work this out.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      True Bryant. But it is real. I don't think you have to be a victim to understand that it happens all the time

      April 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ferari lover

    Sharpton and Jacson are the reel racist!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • N. B

      you mean "real"? hahaha

      April 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • rocco

      lern how two spel.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Learn to spell, even you screen name Ferrari Lover is spelled wrong. The future of America is bright.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      and Jackson. If you are going to try and incite people at least spell a word or two right.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Patrick

    This case shouldn't have risen to this level of hatred. It's a shame. This country has such deeply ingrained racism. It's really sad. It's 2012. We've got ipads and cell phones and video games. Heck, we've even got an app for everything you could shake a stick to, yet here we are with all this technology and we're still fighting the same race battles. We've learned nothing.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. notguilty

    This is silly! The way the media has damned this man before he was able to stand trial is stupid. Do you think he can get a fair trial now? This whole thing is a race issue and thats sad.. Guess what people our generation had nothing to do with slavery, get the chip off your shoulder and move on. 60% of African American men are killed by African American men, why do you not rally for those people? Is there murder less because they where killed by the same race. Or maybe all these public figures that speak for this young man are the racist.

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

      @notguilty – Your ignorance is astounding. First of all, if it wasn't for the media, this man would never stand trial. Your generation may not have had anything to do with slavery, but my generation is still dealing with the effects of it and the racism that still exists which was responsible for it. Are you THAT blind or dumb? In many of the black on black crimes that you speak of, there are arrests and trials, as evidenced by the number of black inmates in prisons. Educate yourself before you speak in a public forum.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • lillieb

      Please put forth a more original argument for your misplaced righteous this other than "they kill each other every day." This case is about an unarmed young man (someone's CHILD)

      April 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      "....condemned this man before he stands trial..." That's the whole point; he wasn't arrested and wasn't ever going to stand trial. How can you, the media, or anyone else possibly say that justice is being served when he wasn't allowed his day in court? Now he'll answer to the charges – and if he's found not guilty, so be it. But he couldn't be found guilty or not guilty if he wasn't ever arrested or tried.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • revrom

      I agree. Zimmerman has already been tried and convicted by the media. I doubt very much that he can get a fair trial anywhere in this country and certainly not in Florida.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mountain Goat

    The charge will probably only for discharging a fire arm in public. I will laugh so hard!!!!

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

      I guess you don't realize that Florida is a 10-20-LIFE State. Minimum sentencing guidelines for even Assault and Battery with a Firearm are extremely harsh. Have a look. From Corey's record, I anticipate she'll be going for the jugular and will file whatever charges will stick. The punishment guidelines in Florida are just as twisted as the gun laws. Z is effed.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • YourLaughingIsPathetic

      btw, discharging is 10 years.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Yes, Mountain Goat, laugh until your loved one is shot to death while walking home from a store or just out for exercise and the perpetrator is only charged with an innocuous crime. Laugh when your loved one is killed by a drunk driver who's only charged with having an uninsured vehicle. We'll all be laughing with you.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fine upstanding black men

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

    LOOK AT THESE INNOCENT BLACK PEOPLE BEAT THIS BAD WHITE MAN

    This just shows the mentality of most black people look at the prisons folks there is all your proof.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. QMAX1234

    Fine upstanding black men? how does this have to do with Trayvon? These are a bunch of goons, black and white acting stupid on St. Patricks day. A day most white people tend to use to act silly, get stoned and get arrested. Baltimore is a long way from Florida toto!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Audrey

    Thank you for taking care of business George Zimmerman. You are my hero.

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

      That's weird.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • williaan

      You are just as sick has that coward you call a hero. Weak ass if he was a hero he wouldn't be hiding. Sick ass people.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    Bringing charges is one thing. Getting a conviction in court might be tough here given the lack of physical evidence or witnesses.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gene Green

    I don't think I have enough information about this case to comment on who's guilty or not, but something does stand out and it really bothers me. If there was indeed enough evidence to charge Zimmerman from the onset, then the police didn't do their job and / or tried to cover up murder. If there wasn't, then the prosecutor yielded to pressure from the black community and Zimmerman is now being railroaded. Both scenarios are equally troubling.

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

      Police recommended Zimmerman be arrested in the first place. The D.A. is the person who exercised the option not to.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reasonable Doubt

      that is exactly the point....it will all become a political game from here on out...

      April 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    Think its funny how people are saying "about time". Really? Because you were there and know what really happened, am I right?

    April 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dale

    Hard to understand why the press continues to use pictures of Martin as a JR High choir boy rather than the suspended High School Senior.

    Cory's decision will be questionable after her remarks of having meet and prayed with the Martins. She also said that she wanted the Martins to have Justic for their loss. Think the Grand Jury would have been a better idea and not subject to the political asperations which seem to be playing out here.

    This thing is a mess and a mockery of our political and justice system.

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

      They continue to show pics of him as a 13 year old boy, because if they showed a recent one, it would show the one that has been in alot of police trouble, arrested for drugs, etc, which wiould not fit CNN's raciial agenda.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      So if they used the other photo it would mean Trayvon deserved to die? Really?
      Pathetic.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JC

    Bros can can all day that if Zman didnt follow T, he's be aight, and I'm a say if T just said I'm going to my pops house he'd be alright, silly but das the truuuuuf truuuuf!

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

      You have no idea what transpired. You don't have a clue what the truth is.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fine upstanding black men

    Trayvon was being groomed and leading the early version of this life. we just saved a lot of money and probably saved a lot of victims.

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