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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Zimmerman 2012!!

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

    THERE WILL NOT BE A FAIR TRIAL FOR ZIMMERMAN EVIL MINDED HELL ACTION TO TRAYVON MARTIN , AMEN .

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

    It really so sad to see all this hate on here race is not the point someones child was murdered it's TOOMUCH what if it were your kid

    April 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Judith

    It's about time. This cop wannabe had a police record of violent behavior–Trayvon Martin did not. Yet Zimmerman has a well-connected daddy to enable his release. Let there be an arrest and a professional investigation instead of the botched initial one.

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

      its botched already...take a look @ the picture above, still showing trayvon as an 8yearold kid. Play stupid games, Win stupid prizes!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JTanner

    First of all I need 2 point out that there are plenty of internet cowards on here who hide behind a internet wall. Next I have heard alot of diffrent opinions. The evidence is Zimmerman had a broken nose fact Zimmerman had a gash in the back of his head which was backed up by a witness that trayvon was beating his head into the ground. Third Trayvon is dead. There was also a 911 dispatcher who told zimmerman not to follow there have been double sided reports that Zimmerman still went after Trayvon and other reports that he went back to his truck where trayvon confronted zimmerman. I doubt the fight was over the gun yet I'm led to speculate when zimmerman was getting beat up he used the gun to end the confrontation. Forth Trayvon is dead. So in saying all that and keeping in mind I'm being bias calling a apple a apple. I feel that zimmerman could of used the gun as a deterent vs a lethal weapon. Last yet certainly not least The parents were having a hard time controling this kid 2. He was kicked out of school for drugs ( not a angel ) 3, He was taken to his grandmothers since the parents didn't want him home alone while they worked. The worst thing other than a senseless death The parents were signing deals to Trademark WHO IS TRAYVONE before he was laid 2 rest. The parents need 2 take a equal amount of blame leading up to this tragic death.

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

      This. I always believed anyone who SUES/benefits from a death via wealth/money/cah and prizes should have a bullet put in their head because obviously they didn't love their family. I would want justice not money!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ralf The Dog

      If something like this happened to one of your family members, I would recommend taking out a trademark. You do it defensively to prevent others from using their name.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Somebody

    the Peruvian miners have been saved ! .. save one more .. Zimmerman

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

    But then I think everyone is ok regardless of skin color. Guess I'm just a dummy. I still like everyone anyhows.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jimi

    So much for a fair trial. And being ordered by and being suggested something are 2 different things. A dispatcher is not badged or a cop, so them telling someone to stop doing something is no different than some random homeless man telling you not to do something merely a suggestion. I love how so many people know what happened Last I recall there were 2 present? Just saying, How about we talk about the heathens in baltimore that jumped robbed and stripped a white guy of all his belongings to include clothes then posted it on WSHH? This country needs to be cleansed!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. QMAX1234

    Why is everyone allways picking on us

    April 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lets

    Lets all be friends. It's more fun ! :). 🙂

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

    Just four more minutes until we see injustice happen.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob Arky

    Zimmerman should have stayed in the truck rather than follow Trayvon. The 9-1-1 dispatcher told him there was no need to follow Trayvon .. now this. Trayvon is dead and Zimmerman is in trouble.

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

      EXACTLY. What else needs to be said? Murder 1st degree. Damn thugs.

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

    I thought Gz had training for the neighborhood watch. To the Gz fans in he's statement he was going to target. Two questions
    Are you allowed to carry a fire arm into a store?
    Are you allowed to follow a potential criminal if your in the neighborhood watch?
    Curious because I heard neighborhood watch civilians are not allowed to follow in training classes

    April 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frankie Baby

    Ni 55ers

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

    OMG!!!! IM SOOOOOOOO HAPPY....BUT THIS WILL NOT BRING BACK THIS YOUNG MAN!!! IM FURIOUS THAT ONE MORE CHILD HAD TO DIE FOR NOTHING!!!!!

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