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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Nex time you go to the bank see how comfortable you are, when a guy with a hoodie and sunglasses is watching you with you money in your hand.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Limbaugh is a liberal

    'I want my gun to protect me because shooting others dead is the only way I will feel safe! It is my right as an American to stand my ground if feel threatened, and to deal out immediate capital punishment to whomever scares me! Shooting someone dead is the ONLY form of self-defense!'

    April 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wondering

    Holy Cow – she comes across as "elated" – she's having way too much fun with this, it's pretty shameful. Regardless of the charge, this is serious and she should act like it.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pop

    Zimmerman will be set FREE....

    April 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      no pop too much pressure from the minority u go figure

      April 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • AA44

      I hope so!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rob

    Why no uproar over Daniel Adkins from AZ? Why are you race baitors so racist???

    April 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      ... Because charges haven't been filed for almost a week now, in Martin's case, charges weren't filed for over a month.

      Give it time, rage has a tendendcy to bubble up over time.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • UPROAAARRRRR!!!!!!!

      I feel it was sooo wrong how he was murdered.....Satisfied

      April 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      the usa sucks everyone who dont do a thing to contribute to our properity

      April 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ro

      So many people are murdered each day, all races....the news cannot possibly report each and every one. That's not to say each perso's passing doesn't matter. It does, but it's the news making ones that get the attention sadly

      April 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • kobrakai7474

      Maybe you missed the memo, but this case is about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. It has nothing... NOTHING... to do with some random case I'm AZ that you cherry picked to make your racist point. Try again.

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

    Justice system in US is a circus where the wealthy and well connected get verdicts in their way. If it is not a bribe then it is who appointed them or whome they want to appease.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      Sadly, this is too true. Just like those with money have the lawmakers write the laws – including tax laws – to favor them (many, many loopholes and options that the average american – who works for a living – cannot take advantage of). We are the 99%. We need to take our country back from the uber wealthy 1%.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Klaas Jan

    "We do not prosecute by public opinion" What a joke that is, that is the only reason you're dragging him into court. Mob justice.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      I disagree. Without the "immunity" in the NRA-sponsored Stand Your Ground Law, someone who shoots another person in self defense use that as a DEFENSE in their trial. All we are asking for is a trial.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    Even black people fear black people. Because of their crime rates and the cold ruthlessness of their crimes. 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 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Oh and black people murder more black people than white people do. Just so you know. FBI statistics.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Your white hood is showing.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*reel

      Racist!! Justice would be served whether u like it or not! What is the u.s turning into.. *smh*

      April 11, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • melena

      wow you must be at least 10 years of age, go back and open some books or just speak to your mommy and daddy and get straight answers, go along little boy, you will mature one fine day.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • kobrakai7474

      Aside from confirming your racism, what exactly is your point?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. a computer scientist

    @Raven
    Google my friend, have your read the read the police report?
    Read the transcript of the call?
    Just Search anything related to trayvon martin, or george zimmerman.

    Example
    Zimmerman had a Kel-Tec PF9 semiauto 9mm, Only one chambered round was fired, next round did not chamber.
    What does this mean? Something retarded the slide, My guess is there was a struggle over the gun. And zimmerman shot in self defense.

    But what do I know, My job requires me to think critically and look at data (facts).

    April 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Laurel

    If the special prosecutor already decided Zimmerman is guilty enough to bring in, how will he ever get a fair trial. He has been and is now being tried on national TV. The fact he brings him is concludes he is guilty.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      duh like they have a choice no matter what happened that night he is done

      April 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike58

    Turned himself in darn, now the Black Panthers can't get blood.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • RF Burns

      If he's found not guilty, that will change.

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

    So this silly crap is the ONLY newsworthy thing that happened worldwide? According to CNN, apparently so. Screw this, I'm done with web news.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • r

      It's tv news too and the woman talking right now might as well be announcing a new Barbie doll.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. larry5

    No pictures of Trayvon after his 12th birthday?

    April 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Salla

      No there are not any.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wade

    At least he'll be free from the Black Panthers in custody so he can face trial. Then again, we all know what the jails are full of

    April 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • melena

      Well you must be at least 10 years of age, go back and open some books or just speak to your mommy and daddy and get straight answers, go along little boy, you will mature one fine day.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Ok, so George will be charged. Here's my major concern. Is the prosecutor charging Zimmerman because there is "enough" evidence to take this to trial or is this simply a "photo-op" moment or a means by which to avoid mass chaos in Florida had this not gone to trial. This case, I believe can never truly be trialed by an unbiased jury as everyone already knows of the case. I'm very concerned. And yes, I'm African American. I really believe that the prosecutor received pressure from the Florida governor to avoid riots and eventual coast guard intervention. Regardless of what I believe though, there is major concern to be had.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:04 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