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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    There are lots of people working with a teenage mentality on here.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. donklos

    They better have evidence to convict because this is going to take the minor league circus up to this point and turn it into a major race trial now. And when they don't have convincing evidence to convict he'll be found innocent and riots will break out. They obviously don't have good evidence or he'd have been arrested a long time ago. The writing's on the wall folks.

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

      You should be using your magic crystal ball to buy lottery tickets instead of posting on these forums.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cas

    THIS GOES TO THOSE WHO SAY LET THE JUSTICE TAKE ITS COURSE:

    "He was released without charges after claiming self-defense, but the case was referred to a special prosecutor as thousands converged on Sanford to join in protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest."

    CRYING FOUL WHEN IT DOES NOT TAKE ITS COURSE.....ALSO HELPS.

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

      Yeah lets see Zimmerman get a fair trial now.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Time Will Tell

    Bringing charges and getting a guilty verdict are different animals. There is no evidence to contradict Zimmerman's account of things.

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

      Well duh, he killed the only other person involved in the incident.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • someguy1234

      this is true...the only other person there that night was Trayvon.....and I doubt he'll be saying anything anytime soon

      April 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Of course there's nothing to contradict his story, Trayvon is dead and can't give his account of the events of February 26, 2012:-(

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

      truth doesn't matter its about crowd control and damage controll not about justice. there is only one way this trail can go with out causing a racial meltdown and that is not in favor of zimmerman guilty or not. the only reason for the charges are to satisfy the pro Travon activist. just look at the support AL SHARPTON? he is always around to promote his hate and discontent.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. I love black people

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

    This would have been Trayvon in a year or two

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

      just another racist

      April 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Stop being a racist fool!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. QMAX1234

    nino338, So a white guy get's stone in Baltimore and this has something to do with Sanford Florida? Do white people have such a misnomer about geography now? Maybe that explained why your ancestors couldn't stay in Europe and had to invade other parts of the world in the name of civilized living!

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

      Wow what a stupid comment.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      *like*

      April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HeyHey

    YAY for Mob rule.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabe

      YAY for rule of law

      April 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Name*Nancy

    Why is it some people say Zimmerman acted in self defense it's not true.let Zimmerman appear before the court of law to prove his innocence.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • someguy1234

      He doesn't have to 'prove' his innocence....the state has to prove his guilt

      April 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALTERINK

      it won't matter its already been decided by the public! and if the jury said it was self defense no one would believe it and say they were wrong. this is a powder keg waiting to blow just a matter of time

      April 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ALTERINK

    wonder how everyone would feel if it was a black neighborhood watchman instead? Paul Mac would you still feel the same?

    April 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mobious

    Why havent the New Black Panthers been charged?

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

      Charged with what?

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

    SOS HELP WHATEVER TOU WANT TO CALL IT The United States is being attacked from within by Black PEOPLE

    April 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ron

    The only things we know about this case for sure is that Travon is dead, Travon was of questionable character, Zimmerman shot him, Zimmerman was trusted enough to be a neighborhood watch person and carry a concealed weapon. To many what ifs to ever convict him of anything. I suspect these charges are purely for show to calm the masses. Unfortunately nothing but murder will please the people. A very sad situation for all, Good luck Mr. Zimmerman.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Anonymous

    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 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chad605

    Still no idea why this guy hasn't been charged. He had no right to engage, anyone... Its called Neighborhood WATCH.. Not neighborhood police... especially after law enforcement on 911 said DO NOT engage the suspect, we'll send REAL police. The moment this man got of his car and choose to engaged this young man he proved his intent. I do not care how big this kid was, if he was so big and scary why did scared little man get out of his vehicle?? That is all the intent that should be needed to press charges for even the worst prosecutor.. I could prove that in court with a jury full of 6 year olds. Come on!!

    If this dude gets off I'm moving to Florida, i can shoot whomever and say I was scared they might hurt me....

    Where has the common sense gone America???

    April 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dean

    I hope the charges are based on real evidence found and NOT public pressure. Otherwise, this will be really sad if police start arresting people due to public opinion. Not defending the man in any way just hoping we still have a justice system that follows the due process of our laws and not the whim of the people.

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

      It is innocent until proven guilty....burden of proof is on prosecution....what backwards nation you from??

      April 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALTERINK

      agree!! it might you that is caught in a questionable situation do you want public pressure to decide if you should be charged or the facts of the incident?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      @Chad – you're an idiot. First of all it's not Law Enforcement on the other end of that 911 call. It's a private citizen earning a paycheck. They don't have the authority to "make" you do anything. They can, and do, make suggestions all the time but you don't have to listen to them and it's not a crime if you don't.
      Zimmerman didn't prove anything by getting out of the car other than the fact that he was concerned for his community, which Trayvon was not normally a part of.
      Zimmerman never said that Trayvon was "big and scary" ... that was your trifiling a$$. You couldn't convince a jury to wipe after pooping because you're ignorant. Damn good thing you're not a lawyer. We'd all be in trouble.
      The common sense has gone in the toilet a long long time ago and you are a good reason as to why.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      XxMacleodxX – If the officers arrested Zimmerman just to calm the public only later to be released because they knew he was innocent (not saying he is because none of us were there) but just going through the motions to make people happy then this country has become a backwards nation. Pay attention to what I wrote and not what you thought you read.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
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