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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. l3gaci

    It's amazing! It's such a relief! It's finally done! Now go figure

    April 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kay

    I agree with you Rick....

    April 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. a computer scientist

    Kid had issues, was suspended from school 3 times. Why not mention youtube videos of him refereeing fights. Or his twitter feed. Tea and skittles (wasn't in the police report, he may have said he was going to 711 to get tea and skittles)? You mean pot and tabs?
    Why has the mother trademarked the phrases “I Am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon”?
    Where was the outrage for the murder of 2 British tourist, by Shawn Tyson?

    Why is none of this being reported?

    I didn't have to do much research to find that zimmerman seemed to have done the community of sanford a favor.
    RIP pot head thug, wait er I mean Trayvon Martin

    So what have I learned, Blacks can kill whites, hispanics, other blacks all day and that is okay.
    But watch out, anytime a someone offs a black person and that person is not black, it is a civil rights issue.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raven

      so a kid has issues and that makes it ok to kill him? you're one messed up individual. second, you don't quote any reliable sources for any of the things you say so I'm assuming it's all made up.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rob1300

    Why don't the Black Americans (not African Americans, because they weren"t born in Africa) shut up about racism. Everytime something wrong happens that someone did or said to a Black American the world comes to an end and the news media is the devil stringing it along. When the Black Americans can admit they dislike White Americans as much as they claim Whites hate them then we'll talk.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      YEP. 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 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • dallasdyamond

      What a loser!!! Where your parents cousins? That was a very stupid comment, you could and should have kept that to yourself, idiot!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • ERT

      Generalization much? Also, this has nothing to do with how one race perceives another – EVERYONE in the United States should be outraged over this case. Either you're trolling or really are just ignorant.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • YoMama

      I prefer to be called black American. And for the record African-Americans call each other black and not African-American. And Zimmerman is a white Hispanic. You can be of any race and be Hispanic. Hispanic is an ethnicity NOT a race.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colleen

      Try being black for a day and then come back and tell me how to be black. Until then, get your life.

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

      Wow. They are called African Americans because of there African decent.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      You are a moron. SMH

      April 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shemekia

      rob1300, I can agree that everything that occurs in the Black community is not racist and I can agree that some use it far to often as a crutch. What I disagree on is the facts of this case and how it was handled, the reason that many say it was racially motivated is because if the tables were turned and Trayvon was the one that survived he would have been taken to jail regardless of the "facts" and awaited a jury to try him. Look at the case of the Black off duty police officer that just last week was sentenced to 20 years because several white police officers pulled him over and shot at him, when he shot back they riddled him with 28 bullets. He did not die but was sentenced for attempted murder because one of the bullets went through the officers vest. Even though they proved that they shot at him first... Now if that isn't racial please tell me what is?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Klaas Jan

    The only reason Thugvon was in Sanford was because he got kicked out of school for possession, go figure.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • watchMoreThanFox

      Not true. He had an empty bag that may have contained something. If that is all you needed to be killed we would lose half the country.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      He also had stolen jewelry and buglary tools in his backpack at school.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      e also had stolen jewelry and burglary tools in his backpack at school.

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

      Yeah, because marijuana residue should be a capital offense...

      April 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pepou27

    The killer has been arrested. GOOD.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jersey

    I dont understan all of the hatred.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Raise your hand if u know exactly what country your ancestors came from. Saying Africa doesn't count

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. QMAX1234

    Hitler is my Hero. I loved his ideas and strategy its ashamed he couldnt hook up with Hussein

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladymoon87

      You sound way too stupid to be reading CNN. But, I respect and TOLERATE your opinion, as you should mine. (1st Amendment).

      April 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladymoon87

      @QMAX

      April 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Is this still the USA??

    I'm so glad I live in the US where you are guilty until proven innocent. Talk about the court of public opinion. Be ready for riots when either the prosecutor drops the charges or he is found innocent.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. fr:hawaiitotexan

    Now Zimmerman is categorized as Hispanic? Prosecutor just wasted a lot of tax payer's money. Evidence is very clear and simple, Zimmerman was ordered not to follow Martin, but he did. Zimmerman did NOT defend himself, Martin defended himself. Zimmerman was lucky Martin didn't have a weapon.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lets

      Is Obama black? If Obama is black then George is Hispanic. Both have white parents.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • SamIAm

      A 911 dispatcher can't "order" you to do anything....moron.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disgusted

      fr:hawaiitotexan – so how do you know all of this . . . bottom line you DON'T !!! How incredibly ignorant of you to judge this man without REALLY knowing the facts ! How would you want to be treated if you were the one accused ? This country is supposed to be based on Innocent UNTIL proven guilty yet you have judged him guilty yourself. All this screaming about human rights yet trampling Zimmerman's rights.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheRibeye

      He wasn't ordered to not do anything, as the 911 operator hasn't got any authority to bark orders. He did what he thought right, and had I been him I'd have pulled the trigger too.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tangledthorns

    The cops arrested Zimmerman out of fear of race riots only.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nexus984

      He will have his day in court and will be able to make his case. Lets hope he gets a fair trail.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • james

      Well its sad that people act that way. What are they going to do when he is acquited?? Riot, loot and cause damage that tax payers will foot the bill for.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      I absolutely agree. If they didn't charge him – then there would be riots – because that is how they handle things....... RIOT.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Everybody ready for the circus? Good luck finding jurors who don't already have a verdict in mind. Either way, this won't end well.
    Either Zimmerman will walk, and some people will be enraged and cry about a lack of justice, or Zimmerman will be convicted, and other people will cry that he is being sacrificed on the alter of racial and media appeasement.
    UGH.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ERT

      that's what everyone said about Casey Anthony, too, and she got off clean. However, Zimmerman has substantial evidence against him and the burden of proof may not be as difficult as it would seem.

      Also, seems to be a lot of trolls on the board today. Didn't realize this headline made the rounds to 4Chan already.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Klaas Jan

    Cower to the mobs, stay classy justice system.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nexus984

    Lets hope he gets a fair trial.

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