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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, OH THANK THE LORD WE ARE FREE AT LAST!

    But anyhow, not a racist, but they have to charge him to appease the public outcry. He'll face a jury and be acquitted or found “guilty" on much lesser charges and probably not do time. The only thing he's guilty of is using poor judgment in confronting the kid. Had he not been armed, he'd probable be the one dead.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      good. release him to the public

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mylky

      Had he not been armed, he probably would have stayed in his car and not followed and harrassed the poor kid for making a convenience-store run.
      We know how brave these gun-nuts get when they're packing a little heat.
      And how child-like they can be, when they're not.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Doubtful. From the testimony of his Girl friend who was speaking to him on the phone Trayvon believed that he was being stalked. His flight or fight instinct kicked in and he chose to fight. Because he chose to fight doesn't mean that he was willing to kill. Usually the intent is to hurt him enough to get away.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      How do you know that without a trial ? Biased pre-conception perhaps ?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. equal justice for all

    I wonder how many people who are 'tired" of this coverage were glued to their television sets over Natalie Holliway and the Casey Anthony trial? The reason this case has drawn media attention is the obvious attempted coverup that even Helen Keller could see and hear.

    I hope the full truth comes out and more than just George Zimmerman is arrested and convicted. AG Eric Holder announced yesterday that the US Justice department are doing their own investigation and I hope it uncovers how much Zimmerman's father, the retired judge, influenced this whole situation.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • biggerballz

      was tired of those 2 cases too, so not everyone who is tired of this case is a racist or white.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • juniorbarnes

      Call me Helen Keller as I'm failing to see the cover up. Florida has a law that allows you to protect yourself. It’s debatable as to whether or not you forfeit that right if you confront your assailant. The police did just what they were supposed to do, and it’s up to the DA to determine if charges will be filled, which they appear to be doing. With this being such a overblown case, they had to take their time to ensure they did the right thing. Just because a bunch of blacks are yelling, doesn’t mean you cave into their demands? Though if people did, going to black Friday sales at Wal-Mart would be so much nicer.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      I'm not black and I'm yelling. Your statement is racist.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I am not black and I demand a trial. I don't want anyone to shoot me and get free by just claiming self defense. You don't want that happen to you or your sons or daughters, do you ?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Johndoe

    Every moron in this country has an opinion before knowing all the facts of the case. I love how everyones an expert. Conservatives are yelling, Liberals are yelling, Everyone should just shut up and wait for the facts. HE IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jodi

      John Doe, I agree with you completely. Let the facts come out and then make judgements.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • goz

      He is not innocent of being a moron with a gun.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      That's why he needs to be brought in front of a court, to be judged by a jury of his peers, to be proven guilty or let go. What's hard to understand is there are so many people who claims "laws" of this or that do not want Zimmerman to be tried by law but expect the public and the authorities to follow their biased opinions and wishes.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. desilu111

    had the police did their job like the lead detective requested we would not be in this mess

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johndoe

      Another "Expert" heard from...LOL

      April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JR

    The Stand your ground law should not be under attack in this situation, you don't want to live in a place where you cannot defend yourself. The Stand your ground law just says; if you are in a place lawfully you have the right to defend yourself without running away. You have to prove that your life was in danger and that is hard to do (not imposable) against some one that is not armed. Most states stipulate in addition that you cannot provoke the attack.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • dcdds

      Yes and that stand your ground law should be able to apply to treyvon as well, but he cant speak up about it and his legal team has not harped on it.

      April 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      People have always been able to defend themselves. I dont buy into this fear mongering of what would happened without Stand Your Ground. The same thing would happen that happened 20,30, 40 years ago. Nothing if different. You could defend yourself, but back then you still had to go through due process to see if it was justified. If anything , you should fear a society where anyone can use deadly force based on how they feel and how they interpret threat – with NO accountability. This should concern you. The justice system as always upheld people who justifiably defended themselves. This law does nothing but stoke fear and paranoia and allows people to kill without being accountable.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I don't want either to be in a place where some person or any person can shoot and kill me and walk free by just saying he did it in self defense. I would assume you don't want that either, would you?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dcdds

    I hope an arrest is immenent the police where judge and jury so far and that is unfair, I only hope the families lawyer for trayvon emphasizes that the stand your ground law applies to trayvon more than zimmerman in this case. The media seems to have this whole case hinging on whether or not treyvon attacked zimmerman. My opinion is Treyvon had every right to attack zimmerman, since he had no idea who he was, why he was following him and that he was carrying a gun. I keep putting myself in his shoes and I would have tryed to get the jump on a stranger who was following me suspisciously with a gun as well, and tried to incapacitate him knowing he had a gun or even discovering he had a gun in midaltercation, the thought is if i lose this fight or he gets up he,s gonna shoot me. zimmerman on the other hand had all the choices at his disposal to avoid this such as not getting out of the car, not carrying the gun, identifying himself from afar.
    This is unfortunate no matter how you look at it, for both men, but zimmerman is alive and he can say whatever he wants trayvon cannot speak for himself or what prompted his actions if there were any of consequence. Regardless Treyvon was standing his ground just as much if not more than zimmerman.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • JR

      You have no right to assault someone for following you. Also if you are assaulting someone in a submissive position there is a good chance that you aim to great bodily harm. This could justify the use of deadly force.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      My thoughts exactly. As to the person saying you can't assault someone following you I would love to see how that holds up in various scenarios. If a female was about to walk down a dark, deserted path and a large man aggressively walked toward her and then followed her at 5 feet down the path and said nothing. I think that sounds like a type of aggression where it would be allowed. While this is an extreme case your statement can not be so black and white.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I was just recently robbed. The robber didn't show a gun (he did not need to, I was inside my car and he conveniently took my phone and walked toward the back of a building). After talking to the police I found out there was a robbery at the same place in almost the same set up probably by the same robber, but in the other case the robber showed a gun.
      If I had a gun, and I shot the robber, I probably would still have to go to the court to convince the judge and jury I shoot in self defense.
      Had the robber shot me, my family and the society certainly have every right to demand the shooter be brought to the court and found guilty even though the robber most likely will plead not guilty and claim self defense or whatever to save his skin..

      April 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Richard-Missouri

    Amazing. The police refused to even arrest the guy, due to the extreme lack of any kind of evidence. The reasoning being: it's a complete waste of time arresting and trying somebody, when there is insufficient evidence to do so. The one and ONLY witness says swet, kind, loving Trayvon, was sitting on George Zimmerman, beating his head against the concrete. He has verifiable, sustained injuries. The people / mobs who have wanted Zimmerman arrested and tried literally have NOTHING to go off of, other than maintaining Zimmerman 'Hunted down Trayvon, and murdered him in cold blood". Nevermind this is merely emotion and OPINION talking. None of these people was there. NOBODY truly knows what happened, other than Zimmerman and Trayvon – like it or not. And Trayvon is gone. It SEEMS the special prosecutor is merely bowing to public pressure, regardless of whether or not they have a good case. The media and so-called "civil rights" leaders have helped make this a race issue. Crazy...

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      So I can go out and kill somebody, and as long as I cover my tracks I cannot be arrested or investigated for it?

      April 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • dcdds

      there are more than one witness who claims that treyvon was under zimmerman, and thought that the voice they heard was that of a young person. Point is there was too much question about what happened not to arrest him and let a jury decide at least his clothing should have been kept and a good crime scene investigation conducted. His clothing probably would have blood splatter on it from shooting treyvon that could have proved his or treyvons side's version of events.
      Respect to treyvon's family for only asking for anarrest an not assuming they know what the facts will show they just want a fair review of the evidence!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      your one and ONLY witness is only a hearsay at this point, and you took that as fact. There are also many other unverified claims and questions, including the first investigator on the scene who wanted to charge but was overruled, these may or may not be true, but you choose to conveniently ignore.
      That is more AMAZING that what you were amazed at.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dave

    This is just the precursor to the civil suit.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. aertzc

    Spoiler alert: There won't be enough evidence to convict him and riots will ensue.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. nancybrad

    FREE ZIMM!!! How long before they start burning their own hoods down over this?

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • dcdds

      You talking about Zimms latino hood or treyvons gated community hood LOL

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • 305ladyleo

      No, they're going to burn your hood.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. svann

    But will he surrender or run?

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chris

    It still has to go to trial, and the facts will be scrutinized. Its pretty sad that the media has blown this so far out of proportion.
    Whatever happened to the days of unbiased reporting? The media has caused more harm than good in this case.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    I tell you though sometimes the media is a good thing. In this case it's a doubled edged sword. One hand if the country wasn't pressing for a trial it would be happening. But sense it's so well known as I am sure most people have heard of it. It will be difficult to find a jury of people that don't already have a verdict in their heads. Florida has I think ten million people I am saying. The trial may take for ever to come about if it goes to trial.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Juggalo Homie

    Hmmm... considering that the proscutor is the only one who knows for sure and that she made it a point to stop the "leaks", I wouldn't put much credit in to this "source." However, if he IS charged with a crime – it’d a great pass-the-buck tactic. When he is found not guilty, the state won’t be to blame, just the jury.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Thor

    Proof that black mob rules.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • dcdds

      proof that peacefull protest is effective

      April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • 305ladyleo

      And white mobs kill.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • goz

      The only thing race has to do with this case is the potential profiling involved. After that, it is about a dead teenage kid and a guy with a gun who never should have had one. If the same thing happened in any neighborhood in the country, the dead kids people would be demanding justice. The "black mob", as you say, has a valid concern.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      I'm white and think he should be investigated therefore your statement is racist.

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