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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    All of you CLOSET RACISTS, go back to your closets and find a big one to suck on!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raf69

    I'm don't know if he's guilty or not, but there should be a trial at least. If found innocent, then so be it, but if an unarmed kid is shot dead, there should at least be a trial. I think that's fair.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sal P

    All of you closet racists GO BACK TO YOUR CLOSETS NOW.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sal P is a Racist

      That word is becoming trite you cvnt face.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • whiteeblackee

      Yes!! He'll be charged with disturbing the peace... and YOU can go back to being lazy and making up 8o percent of the prison population. Well done!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      This is not for Sal only, but for everyone who has no compassion. If someone hurt or kill your family member, you would want justice, too! Would you not? Especially, when that person wasn't bothering anyone. He was on his way home! Then some trigger happy person leaves out behind this "kid" with one intent only. That was to prove that he could kill a black "child" and get away with it. Probably to gain status in "White" America; although, he is not white himeself. No one is above the law and that old say, and the way I see it "an eye for an eye" is appropriate for this case. If you do the crime, you should do the time, Zimmerman!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KennyG

    OJ was set free,
    There was much glee,
    No need for a plea.
    But a white is charged,
    His guilt seems large,
    He won't go free.

    What happens now?
    Law changes allow,
    Cause they know how.
    Discrimination has changed,
    Reversals arranged,
    The nation must bow.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phattee

      Huh? Zimmerman's white now? You guys can't seem to shut up about how he's Hispanic

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

      Robert Blake (actor who had his wife murdered) & Casey Anthony were set free too! So stop focusing on OJ only! He's not the only celebrity who has got off on a murder charge. What he & Robert Blake had in common were money & their celebrity status! They had enough money to pay all of our wages to get off on murder charges!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Emuvie

    He's definitely guilty of something. The 911 operator told him he didn't need to follow the victim. I hope prosecutors go for a lesser charge. Murder 'll be hard to prove.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • givemeabrek

      your the prosecutor now, you dont know what evidence she has, so who are you to say she cant prove murder ? even unintentional murder is murder

      April 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • 12345

      how is not obeying a 911 operator make you guilty. they are not cops.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • GwendolynC

      You do not get to follow a person, start a confrontation, and then kill a person. Lesser charge? It is murder. hat degree of murder? Premeditated. He carried a gun in case he had to use it. Trayvon Martin does not get an opportunity to be less dead. White people really need to stop trying to justify violence. You have been doing it since before the Civil War. It is time for a change. He needs to go to prison for at least 25 years.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • GwendolynC

      You do not get to follow a person, start a confrontation, and then kill a person. Lesser charge? It is murder.w hat degree of murder? Premeditated. He carried a gun in case he had to use it. Trayvon Martin does not get an opportunity to be less dead. White people really need to stop trying to justify violence. You have been doing it since before the Civil War. It is time for a change. He needs to go to prison for at least 25 years.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. xetgib

    Hey, if you want to blame and kill white people. Please make sure the shooter is white. idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    The lunatic that commented get rid of MLK day, why? Are you that stupid, you just type what you feel like? Read history educated your self stop been blind and ignorant.

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

      And get rid of black history month too... 🙂

      April 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Xerc

    This is the beginning of the end.. Wait and see. No matter what the outcome will be, things will never be changed and this type of crap will continue to happen..

    April 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JT

    "Daniel Adkins" who was killed last week in AZ: "Black man shoots mentally retarded white man who was walking his dog. Says he thought the leash was a pipe." Black shooter not arrested. Wonder why this story isn't getting any coverage.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GILL

    RIP another loud abusive criminal who would have done nothing decent with his life.

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

      You must be referring to the white man too as been criminals! You should be making that statement about Zimmerman with your ignorant self. He's the one who has been charged with assault & resisting arrest but they never filed official charges. So you tell me whose really the criminal here?!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul "Barry" Karn

    Toss him in the slammer!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PanzerJager

    Well you happy blacks you got what you wanted I hope the mexicans win the race war.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • David B

      I hope humans in the intelligence war. Let me know when you mae it to humanity.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Too late sir...they joined with us. See, it works better if we work together against you (meaning those in the white race who wish not to see everyone as equal).

      April 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • GwendolynC

      What race war? FYI there are black Mexicans too. Look up Governor Pio Pico. He was a black Mexican or Afro-Latino. In fact he sued John Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, to free a slave named Biddy Mason. The only people fighting a war on race are white bigots. Everybody else can get along with each other but it seems that people like you feel the need to create wars and pit people against each other. Why is it okay for white people to illegally invade other countries yet you have a problem with others coming into what you perceive is your country. The USA is only a corporation. It owns no lands. Read the treaties that USA entered into with the Native Americans. You would be surprised.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmericanForever

      You need to look at yourself in the mirror. We are all on this great planet black, white, green or purple we are all one people. If you don't like this great earth catch a flight off the planet!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Just ... wow

    Seems like nowadays Justice should have her scales and blindfold removed and should be replaced with a cheap newspaper.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jerry Pelletier

    Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, and CNN will all help keep racism alive and well in this country....Obama could have done so much for race relations in America but has failed miserably, he has taken racism to a whole new level and brought it backward 50 to 60 years. He uses racism as a political tool and made racism fashionable again...
    Pathetic! ...I guess they all realize that without true racism they're all out of business...Sad!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • BioHzrd

      Racists keep racism alive in this country (not the media, Obama, Jesse or Sharpton). If you naively think that racism has been washed from this country, I have some folks in the South you need to meet.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Jerry Pelletier-What the F are you talking about dude? You sound stupid. You must not be a supporter of the Pres. Just like a racist to blame racism on someone else. Go back to your rock..

      April 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. QMAX1234

    ART Parra,

    There's no proof Trayvon was living like a thug! Zimmerman had a history of violence that was expunged. Trayvon had not such history! LOL Maybe you too stupid to read what was in the media. Zimmerman's history is very well known! I'm sure all thugs carry skittles and tea you white piece of trash!

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

      thanks

      April 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
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