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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    The next black man I see I'm going to get in my car and follow him around. I"ll hang back about twenty feet behind him. If he turns down another street, I'll keep following him. Then when he goes off the street, I'll get out of my car and follow him. He'll be so afraid he'll punch me a couple of times, but that's okay because I'll have a gun and just simply execute him. Seems fair. Right?

    April 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. descarado

    Working taxpayers are sick and tired of paying for a welfare-crackhead ObamaMan freeloading on their backs every day.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jericho1

    Who in the world is giving legal advice to Zimmerman's family? What the hell is his brother doing on CNN? This will bring no good whatsoever for either side of this case?

    April 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. donny

    we to quick to judge. what if god judged us this quick? always 2 sides to ever storey. but there was a boy killed. got to hear both sides. if i was a watcher i would never got out of my car. just call the law let them check it out. but its not me. never get out of car unless you are a cop. but got to hear both sides

    April 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |

    KMJ Records – Eugene, your an idiot that convicts by what the media tells you...go play on your couch...
    Good Call – Rose – I blame the Martin family for this tragedy as much as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Since their son had been suspended from school for 2 weeks because he brought drugs to school.

    Why was he on the Street so late after being suspended and wearing a hoodie in Florida 90 degree heat ?

    April 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • udub

      Because He felt like it. You white people are the biggest drug abusers. So what he had a little weed. Do you know what's in little Mathews room? You white people got nerves like they said we represent 12% of the country. So whatever we're doing you're doing it more.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      So if you – or someone in your family – wear some unusual clothing it is OK for me to fatally shoot you? All evidence we know of is that Trayvon was acting perfectly legally – walking back from the store. Zimmerman is the one who AT THE VERY LEAST violated police guidelines on how neighborhood watch should behave (do not carry a gun and do not pursue people you suspect). If Zimmerman had only followed police guidance – of which he was aware – none of this would have happened. Now the trial will decide the legal details of what happened – but clearly if Zimmerman had just stayed in his car – since he knew the police were on there way – this tradgedy could have been prevented.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Bringing drugs to school makes you a threat to others and justifies your confinement? It wasn't a smart decision, but come on: I also didn't deserve to be confined to my house every day either. The fact that Martin had been caught with drugs only tells us that he fell within the standard deviation of a normal seventeen-year old, not that his parents deserve blame in their child's death: give your head a shake.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tommy from LA

    This is NOT JUSTICE. I hate black people more than ever in my life. They cry and protest about everything – they still have a chip on their shoulders. Where is justice and the hate crime when a white father who had his 8 year old daughter in the park playing when a black man began arguing with him and shot him in cold blood last month? Where's the big protest across American for this family? Black people are stupid. They have different genes than white people–white people genes are smarter and black people will never be smart. Yes, they are good bull-shi**ers, and althletes. But that's all. I am so disgusted with justice in American. This black kid deserved what he got. I hate you black people and I am in the mainstream America. BLACK PEOPLE ARE RACISTS.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      Who gives a crap what you hate lol? Thanks for the meltdown idiot. Take your mainstream and shove it up your rear. Oh yea, I am black...

      April 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dede

      Tommy go blow your nose and get over yourself. Do you think you are so mighty that a whole race of people care you don't like them?

      April 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • udub

      He left out the fact that white people kill their parents, shoot up schools and eat human flesh. Devilish acts.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeap

      Please, Please get some help.. I say this in compassionate words... Open your eyes and see that this world is beautiful because of all the colors and personalties .. just like you... Don't hate... just try and find understanding of yourself.. heal and live a happy life... from your Bi-racial brother and friend

      April 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandokan

      I totally agree with you. They are born guilty. They look like gorillas. Should not be allowed to mix with humans.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      The family just wanted an investigation....maybe if your love one would had been walking home from the store and ended up with a bullet in his chest you would be ok with the police telling you and doing nothing...Trayvon parents were not. And if you are really tired of black people than leave the planet earth.....No one will stop you

      April 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoJustice

      Well, not surprised and can'[t say I blame you with all the racist rhethoric from the black community. Yeah, bounty (dead or alive), Hunted Down like a dog, gotta love all the unbiased remarks. If the colors were reversed, Sharpton would be home, and news wouldn't cover it and the thug would have gotten off because of age, etc. Yeah, some justice.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ant

      How do you type so well with that pillow case over your head?

      April 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      this is not justice, zimmerman did wat he did to save his life and i dont doubt him, i would do the same thing, matter of face is this trayvon kid attacked me i would shoot him in the head more than once

      April 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ilex

      Tommy, we're not all like that. These posts make me so mad, and I usually don't respond, because I know all white people don't think like that. I believed the innocent little boy with Skittles story at first, but I listened to the tapes, I looked at the map, and I think Zimmerman acted in self-defense. They're going to have to have some pretty damning new evidence for me to change my mind. I'm not stupid, I'm not following the mob. I'm mad at the mob too. A man should not be put in jail for life for defending himself no matter what color he is. Tommy, this is bad, but more hate makes it worse. And I say MORE hate because I do know that there are a lot of hateful black people reacting to this case, I know there is a lynch mob, and it's wrong. And now a lot of truly innocent people, white, black, Hispanic are hated because of this for no reason. No one wants to admit that Martin might have been part of the culture of violence because so much has been invested in the good boy image. If he was a thug, maybe white people are right and we're all thugs. Believing he was the attacker is like killing Martin all over again for a lot of people. But if he attacked Zimmerman, he attacked him. You don't have to be white or right wing or whatever to want the truth. And I've spent too much time responding now, so that's all.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • TEFU

      I pray for you Tommy from LA. I pray for the LORD to soften your heart. It's not right to hate people in this way. You say you hate blacks which means that you hate me...and we have never even met. I have never seen or done anything to you. All because someone has a different shade of skin than yours doesn't mean they are any less human than you. People are people...we are all human, we all have feelings and emotions.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. matthew

    Love the pics of this whole thing.....Travon Martin pics = young, small, innocent looking male
    Zimmermans pics = orange jump suit
    Another media conspiracy to insite controversy. Show the real updated pics of both, I think Martin was what, aboout 6'3" ? By the photos on the web I thought he was a 14 year old, 5 foot kid.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      The real photos are of a dead Trayvon in the grave and – until just an hour or so ago – the known shooter walking around free to go where ever he wanted. Not a good picture until the truth is known.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      He was a teenager still in highschool minding his own business, walking home from the store during halftime of the NCAA tournament. Again, he was walking home talking to his teenage girlfriend on the phone. He was harassed for no reason by a thug who had zero authority and had no business carrying a gun. WTH is wrong with you people? If it were your son, you'd be out for blood....

      April 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      I feel for the loss and in no way am I celebrating a death. You are getting it twisted all around. What I was saying is that the entire time this thing has been on television we all have been misled. They would show photos of Martin that were not representive of how he looked that night and then on the the other hand they seemed to only show Zimmerman's photo of him in an ornage jumpsuit where he was arrested years prior. The media could have easily obtained a drivers license photo of both and used that.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. khamal

    Sitting here watching Piers Morgan and George Zimmermans brother. There's only one word to describe Robert Zimmerman: Denial!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Stand Your Ground

    George Zimmerman will be viciously sodomized and then murdered in prison. And that is exactly what he deserves.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC

      That's real good, then trayvon got what he deserved according to your logic.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Yeap

    A little boy is dead and one man is facing life in prison...who are the witnesses that can bring a clear and concise account of the alleged crime.. uhmm . it sounds as though the weight is of "least likely as not – meaning 50 percent chance of probablitly .. acquit this man and allow him to live his life in his own understanding...

    I am shocked in reading all the articles expressing acts of violence and blood shed -on who? Is this a crime, just like terrorism – using fear to manipulate community.. WOW. When are charges going to be brought against those who threatned to bring agressive force... People stop using racism... you yourself have just slipped through the hands of justice.

    We need Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to seperate from the interest of Chruch and State and focus on clerical action that will heal the wounds of all mankind.. I appreciate your calling in the African American community; but you devine calling is too mankind without prejudice... right.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bubba

    And if he is squirted? More looting and rioting? Just like the white people did for the Goldman when OJ was squirted right?

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

    Sick and tired of this BS all of this BS would not be happening if the parents did not know somebody with influence.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boyce

      And you should have died when you were a baby...

      April 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bubba

    If he's aquited

    April 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DurpDurp

    White people don't have time to riot because they are at work. They don't loot stores for tvs because they already earned the money and bought one. Black people wait for times like these to use race as an excuse to act outside the confinements of our civilizations and laws and loot, steal and kill with abandon. Just wait for the day Zimmerman walks. The monkeys are probably eagerly awaiting it as another "stimulus package" for the ghetto.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dede

      You need Jesus.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tommy from LA

    Quit calling black people "african" american. I am proud to be a white american. I don't need to be called "European" american. Even Hermann Cain said that it was stupid to be called "african" american. White people are white people. Black people are black people. What's the matter of being called "black"? Is that a "negative" word now? Okay, it doesn't sound pretty, huh? Black is yuck. Okay I see.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • udub

      You idiots still haven't realized we're not black. We're brown. Same as your wife and daughter when they exit the tanning Booth.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      I think the NAACP have a list of words that we can't use because they are deemed racist words. I think its a rather large list. Hell, I'm confused to, I know one word that is clearly forbidden but I think the word black is forbidden now too.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
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