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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    I thought Angela Corey was brave enough to do right thing and go against the pressure of the black community and the media but I guessed she also chickened-out! Politics is really dirty !

    April 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Janette

    First global blacks are .16%, whites .15%,,so cry minority on another planet NAACP..second was Mr, Martin who was suspended three times for drug susp., well did he have an autopsy to see what drugs was in his system? Child not, I was married at 17 years of age. Where were his divorced parents? Who monitored him for his school suspensions? Did he need mental help with his families failure? Did this person who did not live in this community full time disrespect authority and attack a person of his elder who belonged there defending his community.. Why do we choose to hide behind the race card,,black people unless it is providing Federal Benefits. Remember look it up..you are neck and neck with white people globally and this is a global world.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janette

      CNN wants to limit my rights,,so now how is being racist and bias?

      April 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      Are you writing this from the comfort of your trailor park?Beeatch, shut up! Did you marry your cousin at 17? Then quoting global stats, like you skipped the chapters on social economic status, wealth, third world countries...etc. Did blacks make up oppression, free labor and the assasinations of advocates for freedom. Whites control the wealth and the govt. Yet you racist azzwholes quote one sided stats. Chic reading has always been legal for whites.......try it sometimes!

      April 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Janette, using global statistics on race to discuss racial issues in a neighbourhood in Florida is as stupid as citing the weather 40,000 ft. above the ground to decide what to wear out of your house. What do black people living in Hong Kong have to do with racial tension in Stanford? Nothing, which is why including them in your statistic makes it worthless.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      You are all free now to go back to Africa and build your own country. When are you leaving?

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

      Yes, and the white male is the minority now however "affirmative action" aka reverse discrimination doesn't help the white male. Wonder if the NAACP or Black Panthers will help the white male when he is discriminated against?

      April 12, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    Trayton was a drug dealing thug! What the fudge. OBAMA BS and extra rights for blacks is BS AND SHARPTON GO AWAY! Prosecuting a man who volunteered to protect his neighborhood. What BS! Self defense as a volunteer neighborhood watch, not a killer! Manslaughter at most. What OBAMA BS! Lower gas prices and not selective racial enforcement BS!

    April 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mainstream media twist the story

    Media has twisted this whole story to cause more racial tension this kid was kicked out of school 10 days, he is 6 foot tall 200 pounds, . Tattoos throwing up gang signs on his Facebook, this kids family along with alsharpton and our president have helped rail-road this poor Mexican to jail. Now they will get a huge pay day from suing like they always do

    April 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Slim_Sammy

    Of course he's not guilty! He was no where near Whitney when she died.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fred

    here is what needs to happen...
    1. Zimmerman is charged with murder or negligent homicide.-obviously something got way out of hand..
    2. Black panthers arrested for putting bounty on a citizen.-
    3 Spike Lee arrested for reckless endangerment of the public for posting bogus address and endangering elderly couple.
    4. NBC tape "editors" arrested for spreading bad/non-existing info.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • jtrider

      If this guy gets off there will be a huge riot.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbell06

      5. Fred arrested for lacking Common Sense

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

      and you need to put a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stand Your Ground

    Remember.. You can't spell manslaughter without laughter. 😀

    April 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxhawk70

      Sweet! I wish that I had thought of that!

      April 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bull Reverse Discrimination

    So upsetting and why this country is CRASHING INTO the dirt it ownership of another country. What happened to the bill of rights! This case is BS AND SELECTIVE BLACK OBAMA ENFORCEMENT TO PROSECUTE EVERYONE WHO ISN'T BLACK!

    April 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • nicesty

      Are you really out of touch with life. A youg mann died for no reason and all you can come with is the president is black. A little info for you blacks has been being kill for just being black way before this president. I guess you may be little out of touch with life

      April 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      You are crazy as HELL!!!!

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

      Care to state any facts to support your claim? Any? Even just one? I thought not. Your inability for critical thinking is pitiful.

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

      That's exactly right. Reverse discrimination is rampant in this country now. All blacks have to do is pull the race card and blacks, and white lunatic liberals jump right in the fray, demonizing their own people. It's a shame, I don't know If it's because they are retarded or they have been brainwashed by the media. Whatever it is it is causing a lotttt of problems. White people, you need to get your heads out of the sand. We need to unify. Black people are way more racist that whites nowadays and they don't like you.

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

    "Sanford's mayor, Jeff Triplett, called "for continued calm in Sanford, its surrounding communities and around the nation.""

    I wonder if there is a particular group he is requesting to be "calm"? Hmmmmmmmmmmm............

    April 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbell06

      Yes citizens of Stanford neighboring communities and around the world. If u havent noticed it isnt just black ppl marching. And on another notE Black ppl are ONLY reponsible for the largest Peace March in the History of the US.. See March on Washington

      April 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stand Your Ground

    A 160lb boy beat this tamale's ass. This tamale doesn't stand a chance in prison. Enjoy your first of many nights in prison George (el Tamale estupido) Zimmerman.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      So he's a tamale now??? Why can you call him a racial slur? Would you like it if someone refered to you as fried chicken?

      April 11, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. B-Rabbit

    Check out this story from Minneapolis: http://kstp.com/news/stories/s2576735.shtml
    Story headline: "Neighbor Delivering Food Shot and Killed in North Mpls."
    White male shot and killed by 3 black males who wanted his bike. Where is the OUTRAGE from black leaders?

    April 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      Act on this one Obama, that white child could have been you're replacement. Act on that. Let start the white college fund? Let's offer money to only whites. Let's start an all white colleges. Oh wait that's not allowed only of black an black president.

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

      Have the black men in question been arrested?

      April 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Where are the white people and their outrage? If you dont have the nerve to stand up for what's right, don"t get angry when others do stand up. If the keystone cops in Sanford had at least charged him with a crime that night it would never have come to people marching for justice. Even if he was eventually acquitted at least it would seem like all life was precious and the family could probably deal with that.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Texas Eagle

    Will the proscuter be using the real tapes or the one altered supplied by the media like CNN .will they use the 14 year old pic of Travyvon or the one where he is 17 tataed up drug dealing racist gang banger . I hope they due a change of venue . I don't know if will do any good with Biggots like the Obamas , NBC, CNN ,CBS and Congress ready to kill this American in the streets.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      In another century.....your race will be wiped out......and the world will be a better and more colorful, less caveman like place. Until then..keep trying on your robes in private and typing on message boards with your virtual courage....lol...

      April 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination

      Maria, robes? Spit or swallow?

      April 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jerime

    The problem i have with the black community is that its so easy to pass blame for the way there are treated on the white or hispanic people when in fact is your children and adults are wearing there hats side ways and there pants saggin off there butt singing songs about dealing drugs and slapping bit@#es and hoes around screams trouble making thug in my book and if i would have seen someone like that in the gated community where i live bet i would do something also because i have young kids that deserve to play in there own yard and not be influnced by that life style. But what suprises me the most black people are saying white people are racist how many all black collages are there and what does the NAACP or the NBPP do for the hispanic, asian or white people. If one of there races open a collage that was all asina or all hispanic or had grants for only hispanic or asian people there racist but cant say that for black people because there not racist right black people are turing out to be the most racist people in america so far. LAST BUT NOT LEAST STOP BLAMING OTHERS FOR HOW YOUR TREATED ACT LIKE A REAL PERSON READY TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE AND STOP PRETENDING TO BE A THUG OR GANGSTER ITS NOT COOL AND IT DONT PAY OFF


    April 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bull Reverse Discrimination


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

      you all need to stop with the white people crap and start taking the blam for the image you have created about your own people with the gang banging thug life you seem to enjoy so much

      April 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Wow, you may want to get a dictionary...just saying:-/

      April 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • haq

      Hey dude the colleges that black people started are not segregated. There are college funds that you can contribute to for people from all walks of life. As for baggy clothes I've seen kids from all races and nationalities wear their clothes like that. If you are worried about your kids try being a man and raise them like a man. You can't shelter your children from the world, but you can teach them right from wrong. Teach them not to be hypocrites, biggots or self righteous.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. reggie

    White people are too decisive,this is the first time the news media has focused on anyone of color like this

    April 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. fauxhawk70

    This ruling makes me wish I could go back in time to the south during the civil war and give the confederates the technology to create automatic weapons!

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

      But then there would be a time-loop paradox, and...

      Wait, is your name "fauxhawk," as in the hairstyle? Sorry, I'm sure you've sat down and put a lot of thought into your responses. My mistake.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      Why not go even further than that, and tell your people to pick their own damn cotton!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • haq

      You can kill all the confederates for bringing the black man over here and making your life so miserable.
      Then you can do the the work the lazy blacks were doing.

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