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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax. Let's stop all the hating.

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

    charges will be filed
    at least three years till a court date....if they find him.
    what will all the sheeple talk about till then
    will they also file charges against the new black panthers
    cnn might have to report on the economy,gas prices,healthcare, etc...oh my.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John G Head

    Yet still no mention anywhere of the Daniel Adkins case from Arizona. Absolutely incredible.
    Please everyone, just google it...

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

      And everyone has forgotten Stephon Watts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Myopinioncounts

      The 911 person asked him to find out where he was going. So he was NOT stalking him.
      Why bother with a judge a jury taxpayers dollars you already have him hanged and you were NOT there either. So every one should just go take a chill pill with hate remarks – I Wasn't there NO ONE ON THIS BOARD was there. Maybe Trayvon was a punk and Zimmerman a wannabe cop. I am really sorry this happened but what about the two little girls shot in their homes by punks on the street? What about the white man stripped and robbed what about the asian kid beaten and flashed on you tube – What about STEPHON WATTS shot until he stopped moving because he was having and autistic meltdown??????????????? They pick and choose what to prosecute whats going to hit the news and stick and Trayvon happened to God Bless his family I don't people to think I don't think this is sad – why aren't Black leaders doing something about Stephon and the little girls? it is sad -what our country is coming to our tvs and music is filled with violence – I sit and shake my head –

      April 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. grob

    Zimmerman being railroaded...

    1. My conclusion is that:
    A. There had been eight previous burglaries in the last 14-months that fit the description of Trayvon Martin.
    B. Zimmerman was interested in protecting his community and courageously did so without much training or compensation and was helpful in other cases.
    C. Per the 911 call, it was dark, raining, and cold, and Martin was walking
    toward him holding something in his waist band Zimmerman could not see.
    D. Zimmerman said “F’ing Cold” or “F’ing punks” per enhanced audio.
    E. Following does not mean the aggressor in a physical confrontation.
    F. He asked Martin his name and why he was in the area.
    G. Martin struck the first ‘reasonable’ blow. (No one has a right to respond to a question with violence no matter how annoyed one is).
    H. Martin responded with violence and a broke Zimmerman’s nose.
    I. Martin was on top of Zimmerman pounding his head into the pavement and then grass, and police reports back up his injuries.
    J. Zimmerman then shot Martin in self-defense.
    K. Martin is protected by the “Stand your ground” law.
    L. Under law, ‘reasonable fear’ equals immunity for Zimmerman.
    M. Zimmerman passed two voice analyzer stress tests.
    N. Injuries and evidence are consistent with Zimmerman’s version.
    O. A motion should have been filed for dismissal and he should have been acquitted based on this immunity.
    P. There is no substantial evidence or witnesses to altar the presented facts to show probable cause.
    Q. The Judicial system cannot bow down to mob law or it compromises it for everyone.
    R. Zimmerman is poorly represented as evidence by his lawyer’s press
    Conference, and without knowing the rules. He probably thought he call the prosecutor up since she talked to the protestors via phone.
    S. The courageous move would be to acquit Zimmerman, but work on laws
    and guidelines for neighborhood associations and modify the “Stand Your Ground Law.”

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

      If the guys that robbed places 8 times fit the description of Trayvon before why didn't Zimmerman call and report those guys? He only reported every other black man whom walked through the neighborhood, but not the burglars.... hmmmm

      April 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Travon was standing his ground, when Zimmerman was stalking him

      April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • N. B

      Great analysis..Too perfect, Im sure it happened exactly they way you have it laid out.. (*smirk).. but some see it differently!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      If a rapist gets out of his SUV and follows a woman and gets close to her .. do you recommend she wait for him to make the first move?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • cavalier1138

      That's a pretty impressive write-up of the facts for someone who wasn't an eyewitness.

      And a very impressive made-up statistic at the beginning there.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Myopinioncounts

      They just did – but we knew this was coming with the special prosecutor goes and prays with the family on the other hand there is so much we don't know – my one question would be if he was chasing him down why didn't he just shoot him in the gang way because ... he wasn't "hunting him down

      April 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • pzanga

      Reasonable points, but on the point of martin throwong the first blow, I have read reports that say Zimmerman stated that Martin hit him when he (Zimmerman) reached for his cell phone. I think it is reasonable to argue based on that (assuming it is accurate) that Martin has reasonable fear for his life and was standing his ground. Not sure how the law applies is both parties felt they were defending themselves from a perceived threat. Unfortunately Martin will never get to testify on his own behalf.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Perduwe

      Grob,

      That is great imagination you have. Arent you wasting your talent for making up stuff? They need people like you in Hollywood.SAD.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JASON

      A if zimmerman would have listened to the disptcher trayvon would still be alive
      b.if zimmerman would have listened to the disptcher trayvon would still be alive
      c.if zimmerman would have listened to the disptcher trayvon would still be alive
      d.if zimmerman would have listened to the disptcher trayvon would still be alive

      another bigot hidding behind politics what else is new

      April 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Travon was defending himself from the stalker

      April 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew Terhune

      You weren't there. The only things YOU can KNOW for certain are:
      A) Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman (Zimmerman does not refute this).
      B) Trayvon was unarmed.
      C) Zimmerman has been charged previously for assaulting a police officer.
      D) Martin has no prior arrests.
      E) Zimmerman pursued Martin against police instructions. (911 Tape)

      You are a racist, you believe in Jesus Christ, and you are a white republican. No matter what happens in the rest of this case, you will think Zimmerman is innocent. No matter how many prosecutors, law enforcement agents, or judges find evidence convicting him, you will say he was prosecuted by the media. Everything is the media's fault. They are all in on it.
      I know all of this about you, because you are a programmed sheep. with no mind of your own.
      I am not black, and I am not a democrat.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. QMAX1234

    asfasdf,

    If this thug felt like Zimmerman was going to attack him HE HAD A RIGHT UNDER STAND YOUR GROUND LAW OF FLORIDA TO DEFEND HIMSELF! Go back to the 911 tapes and Zimmerpunk was told not to purse Trayvon! Under Florida law if you initiate the conflict you can't claim it as a defense. Nice try snow flake!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      QMAX1234, So if Martin thought he was going to be attacked, he had a right to defend himself, right?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lefty avenger

    Gun Toting Republican nut jobs beware.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. N. B

    its so funny how people just want to make Trayvon out to be some horrible person, when he was doing what lots of other teens do, (white and black!).. I bet if you looked in your kids facebooks you would be surprised at how "good" your kids really are when they arent around you!! Most of you are making this judgement because he is black, which will continue to stimulate the whole race issue. White children do things equally wrong, but arent exposed because they keep it quite, their parents refuse to acknowledge, or they have money to make it go away. If we all were judged by the mistakes we made as children (Yes, he was still a child based on his age because he just turned 17), then we'd all be a bunch of failures!! Your mistakes you make as a child dont define you as an adult.. You do not know what possibilities were ahead of Trayvon.. We do know however, even in adulthood, Mr. Zimmerman still had a temper and made bad decisions when it came to aggression, those things can be proven away from this case!! He is 29!! Judge him!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJBABE

      Absolutly loved your response!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. QMAX1234

    grob,

    The burglaries weren't black suspects the police evidence showed that! So unless Tray was white there is no way he fit the discription!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David

    It was just reported on CNN that if Zimmerman was charged with manslaughter, he would receive a 10 year sentence if convicted. This may not be true. Zimmerman could be charged with aggravated manslaughter of child, a first degree felony [Florida Statute 782.07 (3)]. Sentencing for first degree felonies: "For a felony of the first degree, by a term of imprisonment of 30 years (FS 775.082). Additionally, there is the 10-20-Life laws in FL.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. We are ants to them

    They're dividing us.

    We are better.

    Dear Media, why do you want to start a new race war in America??

    April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Dalloway

      We are not being divided. This is democracy in action, expressing thoughts and opinions.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rich

    wow, Wolf Blitzer just got really confused on TV. He seemed to think Zimmerman was the one that was 17 years old!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Art Parra

    LIVE LIKE A THUG, DIE LIKE ONE. TRAYVON GOT WHAT HE DESERVED WHEN HE WAS SHOT AND KILLED. AND FOR ALL YOU LIBERAL BLACKS OUT THERE, ALL YOU TRY AND DO IS TAKE A INCIDENT AND MAKE IT INTO A POLITICAL ISSUE, SLAVERY ENDED OVER A 100 YEARS AGO SO DONT LIVE IN THE PAST, BUT IF YOU WANT TO LIVE IN THE PAST THEM YOU CAN COME AND BE MY SLAVE!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • fel121

      Perhaps you should have spent a bit more time in school and you would not be angry, semi literate nit-wit you are today.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Johnny walker

    This isn't even relevant of national news people and children die everyday all over the country get over it people

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

    free zim..

    April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. complete neutrality

    You can't go around killing people. It is one of the ten commandments. These charges affirm this notion.
    The underlying problem was the gun. Without the gun the one dude probably doesn't have the sac to follow the other dude around. Thanks NRA.
    The stand your ground law is also perverse right wing insanity.

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