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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Im glad there getting ready to get his ASS

    April 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BJF

    To hell with racism. After reading the comments in this forum, I believe it is time for the good and the evil to choose sides and end this. It is almost funny to listen to the hate and ignorance coming from both sides of this events. Might as well end it now.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. B

    Prosecuting Zimmerman will not deter me from defending myself against a violent attacker.

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

      It shouldn't deter anyone from defending themselves! Hopefully it deters people from taking the law into their own hands. If it was self-defense let justice prevail. If it was murder let justice prevail. If it was manslaughter let justice prevail. I'm Proud to Be and American where we have the right to due process under the law!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Karnak

    So ... if he's charged and acquitted, will it all have been worth demonstrations that will most likely go sour?

    April 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Zinga!

    Yes!!!!! Happy and relieved! I can only imagine how relieved his parents must feel. This was a long time coming and they had to fight just for this small battle to be won. I pray they stay strong and resolved to see this out until the end. And finally Zimmerman can stop running and come forward to tell his story.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amro

      Zimmerman was innocent. Trayvon was a thug and he got treated like a thug. Good riddance

      April 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Amro

    Let's have a moment of silence for all the white people that have been murdered by black thugs. Over 1/2 of the male black population end up in jail once in their life time and will somebody please put a shoe Al Sharpton's mouth

    April 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Amen!!!

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

      Someone needs to put a shoe in your mouth. How many blacks have killed by white thugs in the last 400 years? I'm sure the trash out number blacks killing whites. Don't worry about the black man if you not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Wow. Racist much?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Steve that is inaccurate and false. However, it may be true that white victims get 7x the publicity. You should do some research before you post such idiotic statements. White men kill more than any other group in America. Just look it up.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robin

      Amro,

      Zimmerman is no more innocent, then you are intelligent. You said good riddance to Trayvon, you just curse yourself so don't ask why when you meet Satan in hell or looking over the coffin of a love one. Trust my words!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Schoolyourselffool

      Must I remind you your people has been murdering innocent individuals for hundreds of years. It is difficult to distinguish you from the Nazis when it comes to the number of lives you have stolen. You should spare us of the nonsense.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miguel

      Great case in point Amro. And a great article to place it on. So with this article in mind, lets take a look at your wellresearched statement. But before we start I will assume you are not of the belief that racism or profiling is alive today. You can't understand a journey you have never been on. It would be like someone who knows nothing about finances giving financial advice to a financial advisor simply because they were born into a wealthy family. You don't know what you don't know until you know that you don't know it (you'll catch that at some point). As far as the "black thugs" whom 1/2 end up in prison at some point in their lives, they are arrested by White cops whom share your view and Zimmerman's. Quite often, as in this story, "black thugs" are labeled as such before they are given the opportunity to either be that or whomever they really are. How shameful and ignorant to hate and be afraid of what you obviously don't understand. I imagine you lead with your heart often, that can sometimes get ones foot inserted in ones mouth. Open wide....

      April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*s kel

      I hope he kills himself like I hope Amro does. The world would be better off.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TOMG

    JUST FOLLOW THE LAW AND RESPECT THE LAW , FOLLOW THE POLICE ADVICE , BUT ZIMMERMAN DID NOT FOLLOW THE POLICE ADVICE HIM TO BACK OFF , DON'T CHASE TRAYVON MARTIN , LET THE POLICE TAKEN CARE OF THE SITUATION , BUT ZIMMERMAN THE SMART ASSSS HELL ONE DON'T RESPECT THE POLICE ADVICE , ZIMMERMAN WILL GET HIS KARMA PUNISHMENT NOW ,AMEN .

    April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. perennial2

    There is no such country as Africa America. One is either American, or not.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Audrey

    I am willing to bet that Jose Bias has the Zimmerman Case.....lets wait and see.....36 minutes away

    April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • perennial2

      Jose *Baez*. Sheesh.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Paul

    Enough with the media inciting racism in this case. Just because someone doesn't like what you said does not give you the right to commit assault and battery! If Zimmerman held a concealed carry permit he had every right to defend himself against this THUG. And stop with the Skittles you're embarrassing yourselves. This thug is nothing more than a piece of media racist garbage.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. QMAX1234

    If your not for Trayvon your a racist I should Know I am one as well

    April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Orlando

    No way can you get him for murder, maybe disobeying a police officer when they said stay in the car. He still had a right to protect himself if he felt threatened. Sounds dumb but there is no evidence that the kid did not attack him first so that will almost be impossible to get him on.

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

      Not following the "advice" of the 911 operator is not a crime. I predict the charge will be involuntary manslaughter, because Zimmerman admitted he killed Trayvon. Alternatively, there may be some silly minor charge like reckless endangerment, or similar just to say he was charged with something.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. QMAX1234

    Amro,

    How many whites have been killed by blacks? Please provide proof. Also Trayvon didn't even have a criminal records so how was he a thug? OH I forgot being black makes one a criminal to white america.

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

      You want proof. Come live in Memphis for 20 years and u will have all the proof u need

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

      look up Daniel Adkins in Az – pretty much the exact same situation, except black shooting hispanic.

      However, your beloved lamestream media refuses to report this, as it doesn't fit their agenda.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johan S

    The cops wanted to charge Zimmerman, but it seems to me the initial prosecutor dropped the case when his dad (a former judge) made a phone call. That's how the thug Zimmerman got off on the charge of assaulting a police officer. The right wing loonies seem to forget that Zimmerman ASSAULTED A POLICE OFFICER AND ALSO HIS EX GF FILED A RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST HIM. Zimmerman is an aggressive wanna-be cop, he's violent.
    He got out of his SUV and followed Trayvon like a rapist ... Jeffrey Dahmer used the same tactics .. wouldn't Trayvon be forced to stand his ground and defend himself?

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

      One of the dumbest comments I've read so far, and that's saying a lot. Congratulations.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bubba

    Zimmerman has a good head start. Hope they can't find him. Donate to his website to help keep him free.

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

      FREE ZIPPER MAN!

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

      Donating to his website will probably help him get caught! Ever heard of an "E-Trail"?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
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