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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Does anyone else see the humor in the president of the NAACP's name being Ben Jealous?

    April 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. new to Florida

    This country is doomed. After the Civil War you would have thought we learned, maybe for a little while, but we are
    back to pre 1860's and will probably have another Civil War but this time all are better armed and one side will be wiped out completely. Pretty sad.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. obamaliar

    listen to this colored guy talk about Trayvons legacy......the kid was a truant, thief, dope smoker. Some legacy

    April 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Im everywoman

    What is wrong with us minoroties??
    It is time for us to always fall on the crutch of being "victim" and take some responsibility for the bad seed among us. Apparently no one is discussing all the ill and negative material this kid was also reaponsible for via his twitter, school suspensions, praising the " gang sta" life, instead people are placing blame on someone who perhaps did feel validly threatened all because " we blacks/hispanics " are always victims of "racial profiling". Get over it already.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matthew

    The fact that the idiot and race baiter Al Sharpton is front-and-center at the press conference tells you all you need to know.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spunkalicious

      true dat.

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


    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lonny Bush

    Bet this makes "Fat Mom" Nancy Grace Happy!!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason

    Thank You, The New Black Panthers are organizing

    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dale

    This has a bad smell already!! Corey previously reported that she had met with the Matin family and had prayed with them. She also said she wanted the Martin family to have justice. These comments were made before she had time to review all the evidence. Her press conference showed a strong Martin bias. Maybe it should since she is the prosecutor but it showed no sign of fairness towards the accused. Hope this is an open trial were all facts are made public...but–
    it looks more like a political opportunists at work at this junction.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RJ

    So much for innocent until proven guilty.
    Nice to see Opportunist Al found another way to get his face on TV again.
    Hey Al... this isn't about race.

    I'll be waiting for the defamation lawsuits Zimmerman files against the Martin family and the NAACP when he is found not guilty.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • skarphace

      It is 'innocent until proven guilty' IN A COURT OF LAW. Leave out the last part and it is not an American value.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      I don't like Al Sharpton either. You say this isn't about race? Just because Zimmerman is Hispanic doesn't mean it wasn't a "hate crime;" i.e. a crime against a black person. I'm still skeptical about Martin's family winning in Florida. At least the charge(second degree murder,) is correct.

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

    While I agree that Zimmerman should be arrested and charged for this so that a jury can decide his fate, doesn't the existence an organization such as the NAACP sort of foster continued racism? If there was an NAAWP there would be national outrage over it....

    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • RJ

      NAACP outlived its purpose ages ago. Now it's all about keeping racism alive to justify their existing.
      Finding racism where it doesn't exist is Al's specialty.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • obamaliar

      NAAWP..lets move on this to level the playing field

      April 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • TEFU

      What you fail to realize is that there is a NAAWP and there has always been a NAAWP............concentrate on this one.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jblast

    No we can get on with Obama, the abysmal failure. Or is the news media going to keep up with the distractions

    So why is Holder stonewalling again on Fast and Furious. More were killed under that failed program.... I guess CNN isn't interested in those killings

    April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Conquest

      Yeah, and now DoJ wants to punish job creators for setting a price for their products! The Obama Assault on Capitalism has got to stop!

      I mean, now the libtards will have to choose between their love of Apple, and their love of Obama.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ug

    You see the fat a$$ Sharpton to get his name in the news and pictures and make act like he is the one that made all the things get this guy caught for trumped up charges...I want to see the Latino community rise up now and do what the bIacks have been doing up to now...

    April 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • obamaliar

      Good point. Where are the latinos. Where is Lara. Where are the latino leaders. They need to rise up and kick a $$ on this travesty.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Conquest

    When black on white crime happens, we're supposed to look the other way, because crime and drugs are part of black culture, and the liberal media says we need to respect their culture.

    When a white man turns the tables through legal self-defense, the mob cries for his head, and Florida delivered. Edmund Burke is crying right now.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • obamaliar


      April 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |

    HaHa Trayvon was innocent, have you seen the "real" pictures of your kid – he was a thug, he caused problems in school, his neigbhorhood – his own peers disliked him. He stole from his "friends" Black/White/Hispanic A Thug – is a Thug – and if he was beating me up I would have shot him in the head, there is a right to defend ones self, these parents are on the "PRESS" bandwaggon talking crack about Zimmerman. Angela Corey another prejudice politically motivated pawn in the CNN/ABC/NBC racial scam that all black americans fell for... Sad they have no brains to think for themselfs based on facts, which NO ONE has !

    April 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • nikki

      U r a sick stupid piece if crap....really his mother can go on the site to see what's posted...hell zimmerman is alive her son is not...can't wait til you croke make sure I send ur family....nothing....kill yourself already

      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
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