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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

[tweet https://twitter.com/SybrinaFulton/status/190153784981327872%5D

[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. GREG

    May God have mercy on Zimmerman, He was trying to protect his neighborhood, came upon a black man who obiously knew how to fight and felt his life was in jepordy. The world always wants to talk about racism. This man did the world a favor.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SV

      Your final stmt – this man did the world a favor is what exposes you as a racist. Until then you kinda appeared neutral.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ecwfrk

    It's just about election year Politics. Corey is a Republican. Since Obama has already backed Treyvon the Republicans can use this against him. Half the party will court the Hispanic voters by saying they were forced to charge Zimmerman (a Hispanic) by the Obama administration and will make it a Black vs. Hispanic issue. The other half will court the black voters by saying they (the Republicans) charged him when Obama and his administration wouldn't give them the justice they were demanding on the Federal level. The trial won't be resolved until after the election so they can ride this all the way through.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Klaas Jan

    This woman is a dog

    April 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MH

    Oh come on, take a look at the evidence, folks. The police ignored eyewitnesses who said they saw Zimmerman on top of Trayvon Martin, not the other way around. Two sound analysts confirmed the person on the 911 tape shouting for help was clearly not Zimmerman, and the second analyst said he was certain it was Trayvon Martin after careful analysis. Zimmerman's story that he was walking away from Trayvon when he suddenly attacked him makes no sense given the layout of the place; it doesn't hold water. Zimmerman claimed Trayvon had smashed his head into the ground and his head was bleeding, but there's no evidence of that on the videotape. Zimmerman has a history of constantly calling 911, calling them 46 times over the last several years.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • joebrown

      Zimmerman followed a 17 year old boy and killed him!!!! Thats it dum dum.Now he is going too jail.Dont drop the soap!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hector Segundo

    Do you guys have an editor that is responsible for proofing????? The Zimmerman story has a MAJOR typo (visible HTML code) in the first paragraph.

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

    that fat pig!!!!! CNN just screwed zimm and this fat pig is sticking up for a worthless black kid!! trash!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • watchMoreThanFox

      Any thought that comments like this pretty much prove the bias they feel?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • gina

      He is not worthless. Why would you say such an ignorant thing? You sound like the worthless one. Stop having so much hatred in your heart.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barb

      Jesse is an idiot, why don't you talk about all the white kids that do the same thing as Trayvon. If you consider him trash than what are they...trash too as well as you for saying what you just did.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Klaas Jan

    It is a statistical recorded fact that blacks are the most violent group in the country. Take a look at prison demographics. 16% of the population, 80% of the prison population

    April 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Another idotic comment. Blacks are disproportinately prosecuted.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Phil McCrackin

    Welcome to Amerrica: Where we spend TRILLIONS appeasing the bottom 15% of our population so we can keep as many out of jail as possible. Here is George Zimmerman. A man who killed a thug-0in-training. We are going to destroy this man's life so we can calm down the lynch mob who are lead by two poverty pimps.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emo

      Not sure what prison you looked at, but there's no shortage of black people in prison bud...

      April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • John D

      Either that or he killed a guy with malice aforethought and without any justification.

      That'll be for a jury to sort out now.
      ...Not the best solution, but certainly better than the court of uninformed public opinion.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. xcrafter

    we all can defend our safety if ur black but not whitie

    April 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • chrsnck

      What does being white have to do with anything?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chrsnck

    We can speculate all day long as to what really happened and what "facts" made them charge him with 2nd Degree Murder when originally he was let go and charged with nothing. If Zimmerman did act in self defense and did nothing criminal then he should have nothing to worry about. The reverse side is that if he did shoot Trayvon because Zimmerman thought he was a "punk" or for any other reason outside of fear of his own life then the charges should stick.

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

    My gut feeling is that the court is kneeling to the black terrorists whose actions would wake this sleeping society if no charges were filed. If the evidence does not convict, return all the money to the taxpayers out of the zealous state attorneys pockets.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • bibleverse1

      Its sad that a kid gets killed and there is no desire to find out ALL TRUTHS in the incident. I do not know all of George Zimmerman's motivations for his actions that night nor do I know Trayvon Martin's, but the police, lawyers, judges who thought it unnecessary to hold George Zimmerman any further is the most disturbing. I wish the people of Sanford would scrutinize those officials and hold them accountable.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tedt

    Take one case at a time. It doesn't matter what oj did or rodney king or the little rascal. This man sought out a kid after being told from authorities to stand down. The man had a handgun the kid had skittles and tea. Was this really justified. Ask yourself this before you pass judgement

    April 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Emo

    Unbiased black opinion: 1) He's safer in than out. 2) He killed someone using poor judgement while NOT listening to the 911 operator. 3) The media SHOULD be showing modern pictures not old ones. 4) If he wasn't suspended from school on drug charges he wouldn't have been in the neighborhood. 5) Whites shouldn't get so upset because blacks are upset. 6) Blacks should dress and act better if they don't want to be discriminated against. 7) Racism is out of control today.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • DATDUDE74

      just because we dont wear ball hugging pants dont mean were thugs...biatch

      April 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DATDUDE74

    It really dont matter what the court say; its been one.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wazuri77

    Self-defense, or what lawyers properly call “justification,” can’t be reasonably claimed by aggressors, especially aggressors like Zimmerman who follow a person, confront that person, outweigh that person, and outgun that person by possessing a high-powered firearm compared to Skittles/ iced tea.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • bibleverse1

      I find it disgusting that those whose duty is to uphold law and investigate crime didnt think better of their initial conclusion.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
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