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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    how was trayvon a thug when zimmerman the one with the criminal record

    April 12, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • he was not innocent

      get a grip, he was not innocent either.
      grow up loser. move on

      April 12, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. NO chance

    So sick of all these cry baby minorities....he was suspended...he was a thug....he is dead...if he was white it would not be any different.

    What a bunch of cry babies! Oh and as for the black panthers....they should be arrested for their crap. What a bunch of ignorant losers! Yeah...great spokes people for blacks...NOT!!!

    he dead.....nobody cares anymore!

    April 12, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Real direct

      White people always forget about the klu klux klan klowns ! Stop being one for once. Chump !

      April 12, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • twirtzy

      Why are you so willing to ignore Zimmerman's violent past as you draw your conclusions about Martin based on his past?

      Using your logic, Zimmerman was cop beating, gun toting thug.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Craig

    I feel bad for both parties, but George should have NEVER persued Trayvon, George created the HOSTILE environment.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • 4schizzle

      no jury will ever convict, just another press conference opp for the right rev sharpton & his band of white-hating morons, I have a very nice bottle of bubbly chilling for when this moron leaves us. anyone remember tawana brawley?

      April 12, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. jimthehero

    They only arrested him to stop a riot. Who knows if the guy is guilty or not. its ridiculous how these government clowns pander to the inner city thugs who look for an excuse to burn and steal

    April 12, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You are sooooo right. thank you for speaking out.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rita

    The charges have been filed & Zimmerman has been arrested–finally. Now the fallout begins. The fact that the local PD dropped the ball in the very beginning was the first thing to go wrong. The Martin family,angry & confused, were stone-walled by the authorities again & again. Next came the arrival of the parasites (on both sides of the issue).Those individuals who always seem to show up to grandstand before the cameras–NOT so much to bring attention to the tragedy, but to bring attention to themselves & their personal agendas. So where does that leave us? From where I, sit it appears that we are quite busy choosing which "side" to root for. While politically incorrect, the common thread here is RACE–the leviathon that we continue to feed. Frankly, I dont understand it. I never have & I suppose I never will. One thing I DO understand though is this: while we (Americans of all colors) condemn its existance, it grows, The shadow of bigotry MUST serve a purpose for society. If it didn't, it would have collapsed beneath its own weight long ago. I am not suggesting the purpose racisim serves is a good one, or that America is the only place on the planet where it occurs, however, its continued presence makes a strong statement about our continued resistance to real change and authentic equality. A young man is dead. That very sad fact is one piece of this tragedy. The other piece, the ugly immoral piece none of us wants to cop to, is the fact our collective fear of stepping up played a part in this mess. I am reminded of that song, WAITING FOR THE WORLD TO CHANGE. Cant help but wonder how much longer we will be willing to wait. To those of you who will undoubtedly label me self righteous–I'm not. I AM however, complicit and this is my mia culpa and my personal opinion. The last time I checked. it was ok for me to voice it...

    April 12, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Be fair about this show a picture of zimmerman when his was ten or twelve years old like the one of martin.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. Real direct

    Once he's found guilty....and he will be found guilty, with his lying ass, he will kill himself in prison. Good riddance.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      Or..... he'll get skewered by a makeshift knife by a few inmates who don't take kindly to his ilk. He won't last two weeks in prison, my guess. JMHO.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • You spread hate

      Will that bring back Trevon back. why would u wish for anyone to die.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • PeopleAreCrazy

      Ah, you must be one of those Christian bible followers, wishing death upon people, especially when you don't even know all the facts.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Craig

    It can go both ways.... Charles Mansion was pre-judged by the public as Guilty and so was Casey Anthony because of the media coverage... but each had Different Outcomes... so let the Justice System do its job. Im sure we will all watch it on TV.. LIVE....All this Hatred here is UN-Necessary..I currently have My opionion... but after I hear the evidence.... that may change my opionion. Please stop the Hate... this is 2012 for crying-out-loud.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      good point

      April 12, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. erick the domenican

    I I was the one who did it. thats right. I stole from the cookie jar

    April 12, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Saundra White

    I believe the Justice System will do what is right. I don't believe George Zimmerman should be allowed bail with this charge. He should stay in jail until the trial. Look how long it took to get him charged. Let him stay in jail for his own good. No one wants to hear anymore hear say by family members , let the truth be revealed in an unbias court of JUSTICE like all murder trials.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • You spread hate

      Why not bail? He doesn't have money to run, he has no prior convictions, Why is Eric holder getting involved, this is all politics. Obama is trying to create a race war to get elected again. Pure evil.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Bidders

      unbias court of JUSTICE like all murder trials.....All murder trials? like OJ? Like Casey Anthony? Get your head out of the sand.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Popcorn 44

    It just really sad so much killing is going on in the world today. I just Pray for both of the familes

    April 12, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • hammerdog

      Amen to that. 🙁

      April 12, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. hammerdog

    The stand your ground law is now in question. As is profiling people based on what they're wearing. Two points that will be affected by the result of the trial. News at eleven.

    April 12, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. sirdell

    these killings have to stop not only with george zimmerman everybody there senseless when i look at all beautiful people i see a beautiful rainbow of people stop the killings

    April 12, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    This is not justice and he will not get a fair trial. He will be found guilty and get the maximum sentence just to put an end to all this. This is just going to set the president for future trials with the example that if a white harms any minority he will be found quilty if enough people protest against him. Regardless if you admit or not you know if the tables were turned Al Sharpton would have been on the other side in full support of him. This is sad day for the American Justice system.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bidders

      If a white harms a minority he should be found guilty dummy. And if the tables were turned Al Sharpton would not have needed to be involved because Trayvon would have been arrested immediately.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maude

      thank god for that.

      April 20, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Proud American of African Ancestry :)

    So rejuvenated, that one of the major wrongs in this case has been corrected. There should have been a fair trial and the idea that this investigation could possibly close without one was a travesty of justice. There is no law against a man being racist in America. Not completely sure if that is the case here. But if that is the hot floor of reality one chooses to slither on, then I hope one's good deeds can make up for the burden of hate for millions to billions of people. However there is no room for bias, racial or otherwise in law enforcement. That is the right Mrs. Corey's investigation has unearthed. Without the internet and people standing together of all races, the legal inequity may have played out as it does silently every day. These are extraordinary times. We are maturing as a civilization. Beautiful people keep up the good work. Everyday we have to choose to be better than we were yesterday. Fear and hate are clearly the tools of destruction. Please let them go so we can keep our society and standard of living clean and in GOD's images. God bless both victims for this unnecessary loss of potential. More importantly, may those of every color committing crime see the burden we carry for your selfish sinful actions.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saundra

      Proud America, you spoke well... Mike, George Zimmerman had no right to pursue after Trayvon Martin and to profile him the way he did. Neighborhood WATCH is just what it is WATCH not pursue.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
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