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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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. NACLH20

    wow google tyrone goodfork. you dont hear anything on this case

    April 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Laughable

    I'm sorry, I just am still trying to understand why this case is being used as a springboard by so many people to grand stand on a slue of social issues. Yeah, Zimmerman probably was guilty of being way too overzealous in following Martin when he didn't have to and was specifically told not to. Second degree murder? Really? Unless the prosecution is pulling some serious evidence, he's going to beat this easy. No strong witnesses, clear signs of a physical confrontation, yeah.....I feel for the Martin family, but trying to pin all that happened on Zimmerman doesn't really float. Not defending what the guy did, he's still an idiot, but that doesn't make him a murderer. This straight up is a charge to satisfied the masses jumping all over this to scream about social injustice, not about seeing the law satisfied.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Patrick 2

    My opinion on this whole thing is that it never should have gotten to this point. He should have been arrested initially and we would not have had this whole circus. People are blaming the "black" community, and getting all uppity because they feel there is race baiting. If there was not a dumb*** law to begin with that allows a dude to shoot someone in the chest and not be charged because HE (the only eye witness) claims it was self-defense, then we would not be in this mess. There would not be a lynch mob going right now if the justice system had done its job initially. <– Post by White male because it seems most white people on here feel it is a race issue and is dividing communities

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    When will Amnesty International rightly label Mr. Zimmerman as a political prisoner?

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

    I really can't believe there is so many ignorant ppl in the world.....I will pray for you all......(my prayers goes out to the parents...keep your head up and keep praying that Zimmerman get charged for taking your baby and always remeber everything happens for a reason God is good.)

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jason Robert

    Blacks are 12-13% of the entire US population yet they commit more than 50% of all violent crimes. There are more black males in prison than in college. These are FACTS! It's not racism its called looking at trends and patterns. You are much more likely to be assaulted by a young black male than a middle age Asian or young white male.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pumpki

      You are much more likely to be molested by a white male. Maybe we should avoid males all together.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flowers68

      So based on what you've said anytime a White or White-Hispanic kills a Black person, even an unarmed one, they should be presumed innocent because SOME Black people commit crimes. There can be no innocent Black people or victims in your world. Why else would these statistics be so important to you? White people, even White Hispanics, commit crimes, too.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • JerseyJeff

      That is true, but there are more stats that need to be analyzed with that.
      What is the economic level of the population of prisoners?
      What percentage of the poor in the country are white v black while adjusting for differences in population?
      What percent of crime is committed by the poor v other economic classes?
      Statistics can be hand picked to make almost any argument, the real proof is in the larger analysis.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Educated Black Man

      I'm young...black...and educated., and a first generation college graduate at that. I don't fall into that statistic that you seem to want to put every Black male into that category. Instead of making assumptions about African Americans, particularly our young men, how about you volunteer and do some mentoring with these youth. You'll have a clearer understanding of what are some of the things that these kids are going through...(the one's that are going to jail.) Maybe you'll learn about how it's hard to survive when you're born into environments where the whole world is working against you, and won't give you a chance, because to them, "you're just a statistic." If you treat people as statistics...all you'll ever see is just another number...a prison number to be more specific. That's what George Zimmerman saw, and that's why he deserves to be where he's at. A hoodie is a universal piece of clothing worn by everyone, and for the record...a racist neighborhood watch isn't an effective one. He can't truly see what's going on, but rather wants to to help his insecurities with my fellow African Americans. You're just as bad, if not worse than all the people in jail. The difference is, someone with such a dangerous and deadly way of thinking managed to be let free to run around in this world. Grow up...it's 2012.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • visitor

      Which has nothing to do with this crime.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. White America

    Im a rich white business man and I'm going to donate 2 million dollars to Zimmerman's defense

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • cash cow

      He will need more than that u idiot.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • CSH

      Wow, even though he's half hispanic?? What a champ.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • James Andrews


      April 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Relentless

      Now you're delusional too! I feel sorry for you; so pathetic, unproductive and useless!! You are a discredit to White America!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Louis

      You probably don't have a dime to your name. Otherwise you would simply shut up and do it.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JJWalker

    While this case is indeed a tragedy, I don't see why it is the lead story on the news. All of the news organizations are international news agencies, and to me the biggest story in the world right now is the ongoing violence in Syria where thousands of people have lost their lives. The media needs to realize that in this day and age of the internet and instant global communication that the world is a much smaller place. I just have a feeling that in the long run the situation in Syria will be a much bigger story and have a much wider and long lasting effect on the world.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Darren in kc

    About time

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stand Your Ground

    He stalked Trayvon for several minutes. Trayvon's natural self-defense instinct took over. Trayvon stood his ground. Trayvon was whoopin that tamale azs when the little tamale had to use a gun cause he's such a little biotch. Fry this coward.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. The entire debate about this case is sad

    Thank you Patrick 2

    April 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. T'sah From Virginia

    I agree with you, this prosecutor is smart and I truly believe she has the evidence. I predict the evidence that is going to kill Zimmerman is Trayvon Martin's girl friend. One minute after her phone call was cut short, Trayvon Martin was dead!! She heard the last words from Trayvon and she heard the incriminating voice o Zimmerman.

    Zimmerman hung up the phone from 911 @ 7:15; Trayvon's phone call ended with his girl friend @ 7:16. At 7:17, the police arrived and Trayvon was dead. Trayvon's girl friend is the only true evidence we did not hear "fully!!"

    April 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Vincent

      I'm betting she's a total liar!

      April 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yer kidding me, right.

    while this fiasco plays out...in the next 24 hours approx 30 good colored people will probably be killed by other good colored people.....before you call me racist, whats up with the N double A CP.......shouldn't it be the naaaa ? what do they call themseves this week ?

    April 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Louis

      You are far toooooo smart for us!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chalupa

    The charge may be justified but the preamble and political posturing by the special prosecutor was a bit over the top.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. oledad

    You know if the prophet of racism (Rev Al) is there, it must be right!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
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