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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. 12345

    guilty or innocent, you know who will be burning dumpsters and looting their own neighborhood.

    wonder why?

    April 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cadillac70880204

    If you read some of the blog inputs here and on other websites you see why there is so much racial tension in this country. People just don't get it; this kid was shot for no reason. What was he doing? Was he looking in someone's house? Was he going through someone's window and into their house? Was he looking or breaking into someone's car? Was he destroying someone's lawn? That answer is NO! The reason race is an issue is because of the things Zimmerman said via his 911 call and the police failed to charge him after the shooting. As an African American, our history in America has always been people in authoritative positions, local police as a great example, doing unjust things to Blacks within our community or general streets altogether. This has always been a part of our history and this incident adds another example to the madness. Once again, conservative whites want to play this off, sweep it under the rug, or label the kid as a Thug. This incident is about how a man, who thought he was "tough" because he had a gun, saw a kid he didn’t notice in the neighborhood before, called 911 to report it, stalked a kid when the 911 Operator told him not to (because of his own personal reasons), kills the kid, and the superior justice system made the wrong choice not do anything about it until the incident became a media circus. Americans need to check themselves because, as the President and many others have said, this could have happened to any teenager. A teenage boy with a hoodie looks menacing? C'mon Man!! We have to stop labeling, profiling, judging, and mistreating each other and find some common ground of respect and tolerance. It's just like the Octo-Mom getting death threats and her property vandalized; REALLY??!? Why is she being treated that way? Whether you like her or not she still is a mother of 14 kids who need to be take care of by any means. It seems the USA has come to a stage where we love to hate, love drama, love to hurt or even kill. Let’s use this incident as an opportunity to get our homes, communities, cities, states, and country back on track. Cheers and all the Best to you!!!!

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

    ZIMMERMAN DON'T HAVE TO AIM TRAVON MARTIN AT THE CHEST AREA , ZIMMERMAN IF HE IS NOT EVIL HE SHOULD HAVE AIM TRAYVON MARTIN AT THE LEG AREA , EITHER WAY ZIMMERMAN IS A EVIL MINDED IN THE FIRST PLACE ,AMEN

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

    You know what? People make serious mistakes which they regret every day in America, and they GO TO JAIL. Now I'm quite positive that Mr. Zimmerman did not want to end Trayvon Martin's life over a broken nose, but regardless, even Zimmerman would admit now that he made a serious mistake that evening last February. He should be held accountable and be sent TO JAIL.

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

      completely disagree. This whole thing is a set up to get Zimmerman legally cleared. It is also a way to keep race in the news until the election, just like Obama wants it. Obama wants a divided nation, that's been obvious for some time now.

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

      FOR THE LAST TIME... there was no broken nose. Zimmerman claimed it neither the police nor the video supported it. He was killed for being a young black male which automatically poses a threat to many.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      that' a good way of putting it, hopefully it was a mistake and not an intention
      according to the witnesses who said he was holding his forehead like he was worried after it happened suggest it was a realization of a bad decision

      April 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxhawk70

      If someone is commiting a felony and beating me while I am pinned down and have no other option you can bet that they will get deadly force from me in order for me to survive the altercation!

      All I can say is the charges from the prosecutor in the Zimmerman case should be light and a slap on the wrist if anything! You don't double back and get beaten because you followed someone in your own private gated community to ask them a question!

      This is outrageous!

      THE PROSECUTORS DECISION WAS OBVIOUSLY INFLUENCED BY ALL THE MEDIA ATTENTION! SHE IS PROBABLY ONLY DOING THIS BECAUSE THE PEOPLE ABOVE HER PUT PRESSURE ON HER BECAUSE THEY ARE AFRAID OF A RIOT! Riot or not justice needs to be served her and it obviously isn't justice for Zimmerman!

      The law is clear here and it is being bent just to keep some people happy! COMMIT A FELONY WITH SEVERE BODILY HARM OR DEATH TO ME OR SOMEONE IN MY PRESENCE NEAR ME AND THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE IS ALLOWED!

      Zimmerman followed Martin in his own homeowners dues paid private gated community (not a crime)... Zimmerman approached Martin to ask him a question (not a crime)... Zimmerman was asked to stop following Martin by the dispatcher (not a crime)... Zimmerman lost site of Martin (not a crime)... Zimmerman gets assaulted (a felony) by Martin putting his life in danger (a felony crime)... Zimmerman did not brandish his weapon and drew it only to protect himself (not a crime)... Martin dies because Zimmerman uses his weapon in self defense (not a crime)... Zimmerman gets run through the media in a shady light and threatened by celebrities and others (slander is a crime)

      Zimmerman is getting railroaded!!!

      I guess that if I get pinned down and assaulted because I ask someone something I should just let them beat me until I am about to lose consciousness and maybe if I have just enough strength to draw my weapon and pull the trigger I will survive!

      This is rediculous!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    Well they have to calm the herd somehow. Black people murder white people at 7X the rate of white on black murder. For black people only being 12.6% of the population of people. They cause most of the crime. So mathematically black people are to be questioned and feared. This self defense might have been justified. But at least Zimmerman wasn't out robbing and raping then murdering someone. He was trying to help a community.

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

      Thank You. A man that makes sense. I feel like i was talking to idiots all day

      April 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Real talk

      another scared racist sitting behind a screen

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

      You sound like the coward you are. If Zimmerman didn't have that gun he never would have left his car. Coward. After police told him not to. Now he can go and be surrounded by thousands of Trevino. Coward karma!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • udub

      Maybe the idiot is YOU!

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

      Great response, but Zimmerman is Hispanic, not white.

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

      this happens everyday why the media jump on this one so hard

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

      My God, You are scarrry!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      You need to seriously reevaluate yourself. Pitiful.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rodney

      Steve,

      Those are some great statistics. Can you tell what they are for the past 400 years that African Americans have been in the United States? Or even better the statistics alone in the South prior to desegregation?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrea

      I can not believe people are so ignorant. This is not a racial thing. Trayvon was a young man who had a life ahead of himself.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cassie

      You understand Zimmerman is Hispanic, right? Not white? Or did you skim over that part?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      wow, this says a lot about you as a person

      April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. QMAX1234

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

    I love this video makes me feel connected

    April 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxhawk70

      Yea, there will be no Al Sharpton comment or outrage on that one!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. QMAX1234

    Bubba,

    A violent man has a good heart? LOL!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kristinewt

    teacher left wife for student arrested another Justice Served.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Somebody

    should be a good case. I believe Zimmerman was just trying to do this job.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Manjari

      Um, self appointed, gun-toting, unpaid vigilante is NOT a job.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. QMAX1234

    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 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roberto

    What I like to know is how are Trayvor Martin;s parents be on the news,d be in all these different cities for the past 2 months holding rallys news conferences, interviews etc? Don;t get me wrong I am sorry they lost their son BUT don't thay have work they have to go to? Personal bias of the case aside, I'm sure there are thousands of parents of murdered people who do not have the luxury of missing work for all these months.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      this is their goldmine

      April 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      roberto – you can do that when you have race baitors like al sharpton supporting you

      April 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hector

    The only legal action against George should be awarding him a medal for bravery in standing up to that animal.

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

      You are the animal, Hector. You are so dumb that you have randomly decided to hate a murder victim. There is no excuse for that.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I agree! Like when Compian and Ramos were sent to Prison for shooting the armed drug dealer in the butt, they did not even kill him and they got jail time even though the drug dealer had beaten the one nearly to death. Zimmerman was doing his job and deserves the thanks of the public not the lynch mob.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      wow, to call a teenage boy an animal reveals depths into you

      April 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jason S

    j-i-g-a-b-0-0-s, b-l-u-g-u-m-s

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

    Trayvon Martin was up to no good. Quit trying to hang this American hero.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      But it is "justice"..they need to blame someone for all their own failures...

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

      i hope you are a child saying this and not an adult, if you are an adult that's really scarry

      April 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HunterPSU

    special prosecutor balanced need to bring charges to cool things down vs that of not bringing charges based on evidence.

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