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)Â | 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 asÂ 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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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 NationalÂ 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.
"Thereâ€™s no winners here. â€¦ 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:
â€śFortyâ€“five days after Trayvon Martinâ€™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 todayâ€™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 "Trayvonâ€™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 raceâ€”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, weâ€™ve got to address the issues of racial profiling and the valuation of black mensâ€™ 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 Trayvonâ€™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 Americaâ€™s children.â€ť
[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.
[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 NationalÂ 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.
[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 Attorneyâ€™s Office in Jacksonville, Florida at 6 p.m. ET.
[Updated at 2:51 p.m. ET]Â 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]Â George Zimmerman â€świll be (criminally) charged if (he) hasnâ€™t been charged already,â€ť 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.
Trayvon's parents destroyed a family? Might make sense in a universe where we always blame the black man...........oh wait.
ENOUGH already !!!! This thug got what he deserved !! What about justice for George Zimmerman !!!!
I suggest (as a Republican): Death during the commission of a crime. The crime, stalking. Zimmerman was told not to pursue but he did it anyway.
Maybe you should have listen to the complete tape instead of what NBC put out. Zimmerman stopped following after the 911 told he that they didn't need him to do that.
he was told to not follow for his own protection. not because 911 felt he was going to kill anyone
Told by a 911 operator. Not an officer of the law. You don't have to do what the 911 operator tells you to do. If doing your job as a neighborhood watch captain is stalking, then we better arrest every single neighborhood watch member in the world. You have the right to go up to someone and talk to them, and if you are attacked you have the right to defend yourself.
Theres no law that says you have to do what they say.
Republican, Democrat, Independent, it does not matter. Finally some one with some sense!
The person who said that had no authority to say that. It was a comment. So what?
Bottom line is, Zimmerman was packing a GUN on a neighborhood watch. He was told by 911 to stand down. It is obvious to me he was gunning for someone. He should be charged and put on trial. That is if they can find him now.
Stand down > we don't need you to do that.
I am assuming you took part in the investigation?
You are stupid. Look at the map and listen to the 911 call. He wasnt chasing him. He will get off and then the animals can riot.
Well thank god you're not a JUDGE because its obvious to me that you're opinion means nothing. Maybe it would be a lot easier to find him if groups like the black panthers and people like yourself weren't calling for his head
Don't you just love racist cowards? Will come in a comment section like this and display their ignorant selves. To afraid to be who they really are in the real world. Life must suck for them. Oh well.
Anyhoo... back to life, back to reality. #justicefortrayvon
Actually, ill call you Ni&*^er in your face too. Come to Modesto California and you will see.
I want CNN to cover everytime a black person commits a crime against a hispanc or white and scream out racism and hate crimes. This is a sad story, but truth be told 93% of all black murders are commited by other their own race. Great coverage on this story CNN...Unfair and Unblanced
BEST COMMENT EVER!
If Zimmerman wasn't guilty, why did he go into hiding? This man has never even met his attorneys who has now dropped him as a client! Wake up America – this man stalks a kid armed with skittles and tea who was invited into that neighborhood. That kid had every right to be there just like Zimmerman.
That $10,000 dollar bounty might have had something to do with it.
why did he go into hiding? because racist tools such as yourself are trying to publish his address and get the guy killed vigilante style, idiot...
The man went into hiding because of the numerious death threats by stupid people who thought they knew the facts. We all knew that he would be charged because our country bows down to the voices of the mob rather than doing what is right.
The New Black Panthers have a bounty out for him. Why aren't they in jail. We know that is illegal.
Ummm...Gee...Maybe because a bounty was put on his head by the Black Panthers? How's that for starters.....
Why did he go into hiding? Because all of America is on a witch hunt! The media turned Martin into a sweet pure innocent baby boy and Zimmerman into a zealot freak. The media has made all of America unhealthily hungry for revenge.
He went into hiding because of the 10,000 bounty the Black Panther party put on his head. Remember the Florida retirees whose info was given out by Spike Lee as Zimmerman's home? They had to leave their home because of the harrassment. Let's face it, there are plenty of RACISTS out there on BOTH sides of this argument
Why did he go into hiding? Have you been paying any attention to the news? Aside from the bounty put on his head, Spike Lee's errant tweet that made a shambles of an elderly couples life, the news media already decided his guilt, painting him a child murdering racist
Get all the facts before spitting that... He had a Concealed carry license so he is lawfully carrying, and obviously there has been crime in that neighborhood if they need to watch it. It's just unfortunate that Trayvon fit the description of a stereotypical thief/criminal. All the evidence will be brought out and we will see what really happened.
Drop that lame "skittle and tea" dealie. It's irrelevant he pulled them out and threw them at the shooter.
the man had to go into hidding the black panther and other were out to kill him. do not let the new story cloud your way on this they do more lie then the goverment.
Toni are you an idiot? The Black Panthers have put a $10K bounty on his head! Everywhere he goes his life is being threatened. It says a lot about the hatred and black-on-white racism of today now don't it?
Is Zimmerman being charged to avoid riots across the country?
areacode 612.........I don't think that is the case. It;s been 44 days so riots probably would've already broke out. This is good news though I hope he is appropriately charged and let justice take its course.
What do you think?????
Riots?? Really, Protests maybe...
No. He's being charged because he lied about his self defense claim and stalked and murdered an innocent teenager. This man has issues, and instead of addressing them his father, a judge, helped him expunge his criminal behavior. Zimmerman was a time bomb. He was going to kill somebody, and unfortunately it was a kid. I actually feel sorry for him and his family. Most of my sorrow is for the Martin's who will never see their boy again. But today the have some measure of justice.
Yep...sad, isn't it? @Great – THANK YOU for pointing that out. And stating a FACT doesn't make anybody "racist," so don't even go there. The media has whipped you all into a frenzy over this incident. If white people got their panties in a knot every time a white person is killed by a black person, then there would be riots from coast to coast...nonstop. Stop screaming "racism" just because the media decided to focus on this particular case. No one is waiting until all the evidence is in. NO ONE knows what really happened and we won't until all the facts come out. So STOP assuming you know what the motivations for EITHER person involved was. And for God's sake, stop making this about race, unless it is proved to be beyond the shadow of a doubt!
Zimmerman will be found guilty. You'll see, when someone has a gun, he or she needs to show restraint and be a lot more responsible. He went after the kid like if he was a cowboy. He was the one obviously the one that started all this, this tragedy could have easily happened when martin was
Trayvon deserved what he got. Zimmerman is a hero.
So he deserved to die. Well so do you.
you are an idiot
And you are a racist FOOL!!!!!!!
You are a ignorant human being for saying that.... I mean a child was shot for no reason, but he got what he deserve. I hope you get what you deserve for making a dumb a** comment as that. God bless you!!!
I wish the next time you go out to the store someone shoots you and not get arrested. your comment is stupid and shows your ignorance.
You call his actions "A Hero" really!!?? A 17 year old child was gun down you IDIOT! Zimmerman was told to back off and he didnt. He should have been arrested for his killing and for the mear fact he chased the young man and murdered him.
Got what he deserved? For walking? Really? And you post under the name "Shaneeqa". What a coward!
You are one dumb A** B****
You are a fool
What a shock!
Makes me wonder what do you deserve for being such a narrowminded ignorant moron!
I hope Zimmerman does the same thing to your son and then I would really call him a hero! Think if the shoe was on the other foot! Hopefully Zimmerman gets u next!
I am just so sick of the race card being used every time you turn around. It's not our place to judge. We weren't there. All we can go on is what has been released, and even some of it from the news had been incorrect. The agendas with the media is unclear on some things ( ie: the pictures that have been shown for both, they should have used updated pictures instead of those from a while back) It seems the media wants to be the jury real quick which in return sparks outrage from the communities. We should be uniting as one through Christianity and quit all this crap. It's time to grow up and act like adults.
Oh, please, leave religion out of this. Christians are as two faced as anyone else, preaching one thing and doing another.
It is not a race card...it is an unarmed kid being shot and killed... even if the kid was white, I would want to see Zimmerman charged with a crime
We should all unite under your version of Christianity? Ummmmm no thanks.
Pictures won't change the fact that Zimmerman didn't "stand his ground," he hunted down an innocent kid who defended himself against a coward hiding behind a gun. .
Lets take color out of the situation. Zimmerman is still wrong. Packing a gun on neighborhood watch=WRONG, Continueing to persue person after you reported to police and they directly told you to stand down=WRONG. Shooting unarmed person=WRONG. I said nothing about color of peoples skin or profiling or aledged racial remarks made during the altercation. Trish I agree racism and ignorant but it exist and we cant ignore it. Not everyone has the same high moral character you do or view teh world as one big human family.
He definitely should be charged! Let's here all the evidence and let a jury decide. I personally think he decided he knew best, ignored the 911 call, and tried to play cop. No matter what the verdict, I think he will have concerns for his life for a long, long time.
I keep reading about how this is media fueled and the facts will come out. What do people who believe that this kid deserved to die know that I donâ€™t know? What facts have been made available to you that havenâ€™t been made to me? I get it, you donâ€™t like black people, or you think that anything bad that happens to a single black person is justified because of the behaviors of other black people. And somehow this is Obamas doingâ€¦ And that because the New Black Panther party has emerged talking trash that they represent all black people. Fine. But it doesnâ€™t change that there may very well be plenty of evidence to bring charges against this man resulting in a trial.
Why didn't Zimmerman get arrested at the time of the incident. Now that political pressure is being applied Zimmerman is going to be charged. With what evidence do they have now that they didn't have then. This is a lynch mob mentality and it frightens me that the court of public opinion is ruling the situation. If this Zimmerman is found innocent after this investigation you are going to see lawyers line up to sue the government on behalf of Zimmerman and other talking heads who have pasted judgement on him and ruined his reputation. The day the court of public opinion can convict a man is the day we lose this nation.
Everything is conjecture at this point but what makes a lot of people feel Zimmerman was justified is that witnesses came forward stating that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman; that Trayvon punched Zimmerman in the face, knocking him to the ground, then jumped on top of him and repeatedly beat his head into the ground.
Again, that's just the media's report of what witnesses had told police. What actually happened is unknown. The special prosecutor has much more information than any of us do. She is in a better position than anyone else to assess if Zimmerman was really acting in self-defense and had reason to believe his life was in danger.
People who are jumping to Zimmerman's defense have no more information than Al Sharpton or anyone else calling for Zimmerman's arrest. This whole debacle is a testament to how ignorant people can be.
The high road, the moral road, the right road is to reserve judgment until the facts are known. It's too bad for America that nobody seems to be able to do this.
he can cry self defense all he wants. If I'm being followed home by someone in a car, then they get out on FOOT to pursue me, and I don't know who they are, could be a murderer, kidnapper, racist, whatever, I'm gonna whoop his butt too, so I can get away. That shouldn't give ANYBODY, white, black, pink, or purple, the right to shoot someone that's unarmed. If the police tell you "YOU ARE NOT THE POLICE STOP FOLLOWING HIM," THEN STOP FOLLOWING HIM. period. It's that simple.
Whether or not it is racially motivated isn't even the point. Did Trayvon Martin not also have the legal right to stand HIS ground when persued then approached by a stranger with a gun? If a strange man chased me, I would assume HE was a criminal. I would run, just like this kid did. And this kid died on the ground 70 feet from his father's back door. The racial aspect of this case isn't the motivation of the killer, it's the reaction of the police. Evidence that normally would be collected was ignored (like the phone records that show he was on the phone mere minutes before he died). The assumption that an unarmed 17 year old could scare a 28 year old man with a 9mm SO BADLY that he was forced to kill him is ridiculous. And at the end of the day... if Zimmerman was so afraid, why did he CHASE this person, even after being TOLD not to? Use some critical thinking.
And as for what age photos are shown of him, shame on you. If the photos shown of him make him look all scary and black, I guess he deserved to die huh? That's just gross.
I think you hit right on track. Nicely stated.
If he is convicted it will become a federal holiday. And if he is acquitted there will be riots. It's a win-win.
What exactly are you trying to say? Why so cryptic......
If he's acquitted there should be riots. No justice no peace.
Guns are made for shooting cans.