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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Good luck in convicting Mr Zimmerman. There's no much doubt in the case that jury won't be able to convict him.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Wow. Sounds like you have a law degree..Zimmerman will need your assistance.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BanRacism

    Oh, Martin was on top of Zimmerman? Martin is still dead, and Zimmerman should still go on a trial to defend what he did. Only 2 people know what happened that fateful night, and 1 of which we will never know. Prosecutors will paint a picture of Zimmerman as a Violent Criminal with a Criminal record, and the Defense will attempt to do the same using Trayvon's High School records.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kingofthenet

    I don't like instigators, and George is an instigator first class.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lonny Bush

    I wish Nancy grace would dance off and make cookies!!

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




    April 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxhawk70

      What JuggerNig wasn't available as a handle?

      April 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The entire debate about this case is sad

    Well I pray that we all can stop and think that by the grace of God, there goes one of our son's, uncles, fathers, or brothers! Be it Trayvon Martin who was murdered, or George Zimmerman who acted in poor judgement. I believe justice will prevail becasue God sits high and he looks low! So much for the courteous commentary! Have fun blasting and hating one another!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • glorydays

      You are what a Christian should be. Thanks.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sdred

    Why is Corey not also praying for Zimmermans family, they too must be finding this difficult. I understand not to the same magnitude as the lose of a son, but none the less this is hard for all parties.

    I also can't say I am surprised. Corey came into this saying she would find justice for *martins family* of course that means they would be pressing charges.

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

    This prosecutor has purposefully bypassed a grand jury in her attempt to please the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. She knew that a grand jury would NOT have indicted Mr Zimmerman for 2nd degree murder. All of this boils down to a simple fact, the prosecutor is pandering to an inherently violent vocal minority group in the hope of stoping riots from breaking out. Her decision has absolutely nothing to do with the basic concept of justice as it was FORMERLY practiced in America. We have ALL watched a media sanctioned mob subvert the legal system in the name of not justice but revenge. How can you be a "White Hispanic"????? You can't, no more than that a$$ clown Obama can be a "White African American" , but that was the only way to make this work as a White versus Black thing.

    This will NOT help race relations in our country, but will instead cause the noble cause of Equal Rights AND Justice for ALL Americans espoused and fought for by the Rev Martin Luther King to suffer a tremendous and lasting set back. This IS NOT his dream but a perversion of ALL he worked and sacrificed for.

    No one knows what happened on that night, yet our President and others have prejudged Mr Zimmerman's actions and found him guilty. The press in America has started a lynch mob mentality that all but guarantees a " Stalinist Style Show Trial" with Zimmerman guilty before the judge's gavel strikes to set the travesty into motion.

    Innocent UNTIL proven guilty used to be the law of this land. Now we see that it devolving into the law of the jungle and mob rule fostered and abetted by none other than Mr Obama and his a$$ kissing lackeys in the main stream media.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • sabinla

      Dave you are a troglodyte.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Allen

    This was done simply to appease the mob. There should be an outcry about injustice from the DA's office. After this dog and pony show is over the prosecutor should be disbarred. You don't arrest people, so they can prove they are innocent! DISBAR THIS LADY !

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dragon1

    This is nothing more than a colored circus to railroad Z. White Americans are fed up with you colored people threatening us & anyone else when you don't get your way. You are nothing but trouble! If I get on that jury Z. will be found NOT GUILTY. How do you smart ass black racists like that!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas payne

      And if I get on there he's getting the death penalty!!!! In all seriousness, he'll be found guilty of manslaughter.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • sabinla

      This white person thinks you belong in a cage with the other animals.You give troglodytes a bad name.
      Get off your racist but and get educated and quit blaming people of color for your issues. The fact of the matter the are horrible people of every color.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. White America

    Trailer park? Lol....my car is worth more than your house

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas payne

      Got to love the internet. Anyone can be anything they want. Your car is worth more than someone's house and I'm the Queen of Sheeba. See how that works?

      April 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAH

      Probably a stolen vehicle.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dallastexas75205

    Well another black family playing the race card for special consideration. I am glad to see it's all normal.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas payne

      Special consideration? Hmm, charge the guy who murdered my unarmed son. Yep, sounds like special consideration to me.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • sabinla

      Dallastexas75205 you are a troglodyte and give all Texans a bad name. Get educated.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. James

    Whether Zimmerman is guilty or not, it's sad to see racial remarks on here and even sadder for people to act like they have never said a racial remark or had a racist thought. Everyone is racist whether you like it or not.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. fryuujin

    what we need here is more wildazz factless no-brain comments. scary part if these dolt can also be on any jury!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. descarado

    Recuerde en noviembre!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
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