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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Watch the charge be "Improper use of the 911 system"

    April 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    @dean (above)
    I agree with you 100%. The court proceedings should, for all means, be based on facts. The preponderance of the evidence.
    The evidence is abut the fingerprints on the gun (the real show stopper). How are the prints found on the gun? How are they arranged? Did they find them "around the handle" and "across the trigger"? If so, then why isn't Zimmerman dead? Or did Zimmerman place his lifeless hand on the 9mm gun to transfer prints, just to make it look like self defense (down and dirty)?
    Other evidence looked at is "how" Martin "took" the bullet. What angle? How close? Execution style?
    More evidence? What about the Coroners inquest? Where thier drugs involved with either party? What injuries show on both individuals other than a bullet (cuts, bruises,lacerations,broken bones, trauma)?
    More evidence? The 911 call. Did the defendant purposly stall the Sanford Police? Was the defendant trying to gain the 911 operators confidence despite thier requests to back off and allow police to handle it (why didn't the defendant simply stay home and lock his doors?).
    Now that I'm in this free for all, that is how I stand.
    Come on guys....most individuals go into protective custody peacefully after shooting someone in self defense, till they get an attorney or one is appointed. They generally don't go out and panhandle the publics sympathy for money for a lawyer.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Izz

      Zimmerman was on the way to the store. That's why he didn't sit at home and just lock his doors. There is a lot of evidence that needs to come out, and we will see what they have to say here in a few minutes. If he isn't charged, then it is safe to assume that the "senior investigator source" they are all referencing is obviously unreliable, lol. I'm actually hoping that he isn't charged, just for that fact.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Harry

    I miss the good ole days

    April 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. White America

    Throw Jesse Jackson in jail!!! Let the AB take care of him

    April 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    Perhaps offering a bounty in itself is not a crime ? Bounty hunter is even a profession. People offer all kinds of rewards for all sorts of findings

    April 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      bounty hunters don't bring in their subjects "dead" and the "bounty" offered by the racist black panthers was for "dead or alive"... but that's OK in the minds of the lefty looonies

      April 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack Me

    You need to see pictures of Trayvon and not the ones where he was in elementary school.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pepou27

      I don't care about pictures. I am concerned about Mr. Martin's murder and justice.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • gepids

      I did. Looks like a teenager. So what. The picture used here, looks like the other photos, a teenager.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmyL

      Not sure how pictures are relevant...in fact, maybe the media needs to STOP showing all pictures so we can eliminate bias and racial context from the discussion!!!

      ~~btw...www.nationalmarketingtoday is hiring!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joseph L

    People need to get a life and realize that things like this happen EVERY DAY in America and they don't get the publicity as this case did. This is freaking rediculous that this poor man can have no life now. It has been proven that NBC news has edited the 911 tapes and therefore sparking racial hatred for this poor man. As has been said before, a white man accidentally kills a black man, national news. A Black Man or black kids kill or brutally attack a white man or boy, doesn't make the news and if it does it is forgotten after a day or 2. This is a shame that Obama now has his race war now and can now have the race debates and riots to lead up to the election which would then allow the Black Panthers to bully white voters when they go to the election place, like they did back in 2008; therefore allowing the worst president in American history back into the White House again for 4 more years causing the worst depression in history and would then allow the American hating countries of the world to come in now and wipe us off the map. People need to forget this case and get on with their lives.

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

      1st, he is not white, he is multi racial. Second, he did not accidentally kill that boy. He shot him intentionally.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pepou27

      Here we go. Let's blame our black President for YOUR ugly racism! Have you no shame nor any decency left ?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Morge

      You're right Joe. This story should not be in the media the way it is. If the Sanford police department would have done their due dilegence and investigated this case properly, it wouldn't be. Black or white, a family lost their child and initially, the police department did nothing to provide answers about why their child was killed. It's sad that the family had to go to these lenghts to get answers but unfortunately it was necessary.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iowan

      Funny how you leave out the part where the police let a man walk away from a shooting without any criminal charges. It would make more sense to me that he is tried and found not guilty then. So far you would just take him at his word and that sound good enough. Comparing this to other crimes where the criminals are actively pursued and when caught are tried is ridiculous.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John Q Public

    Now they are railroading Zimmerman and will have a summer trial to keep everbody's attention, the American public won't notice the $5 a gallon gas.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pepou27

      Walk instead of driving.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nolimits3333

    If it does not fit, you must aquit.

    Oh....wait......

    April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rob1300

    This is crap, the news blows up white on black crime as racist. At a university in the great U.S. that same week there were 3 black men that murdered a white student and it was not on the national news and blown out of proportion, but damn if a black man was killed or something was said to them the wrong way. I say bulls... We are all AMERICANS not Asianamericans or african-americans (unless you were actually born over there) you are a American. Shut your mouths about Racism unless you start pointing the finger at yourselves. Media poeple thank you for starting this hatred.

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

    If this man had molested this boy, he would be in prison for years. Killing him he may walk? What kind of justice is that?

    April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jersey

    This isn't a black or white issue. He was somebodies son, if he was white that would make no difference I would want justice as well. Grow up and see it for what it is.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hope

    Poor Zimmerman. Good luck.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pepou27

      Poor Zimmerman. Rot in Hell

      April 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      poor Treyvon, may he rest in peace

      April 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. New York

    Sad that there are so many of you racists amound me in this country. I pray my kids never come in contact with you. Thank God I'm from the Caribbean and we don't have this thought process. We would never last long in slavery here. Very tragic. Scary I must say but please note this is not slavery days. Black people will no longer sit back. That's for sure.

    As Bab Marley said " Until the philosophy which hold one race superior And another
    Inferior, Is finally, And permanently, Discredited, And abandoned –
    Everywhere is war, Me say war.
    That until there no longer
    First class and second class citizens of any nation
    Until the colour of a man's skin
    Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes –
    Me say war.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Concern for our ciizens

    This is a tragedy for both parties and all society. We have a dead child for reasons, nobody really knows except for Zimmerman and Martin. Additionally, Zimmerman will never get a fair trial due to the media exposure. Errors due to altered 911 tapes and poor journalism. Who will really win here???? The outcome here....two lost lives and thousands of angry people! RIP Martin our prayers are with you! RIP Zimmerman...although not dead, you will wish you were because you are now forever in hell. May GOD protect you and your family from society and the media.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165