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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    Monkeys got what they wanted!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • sparty7

      @Pacer...Your ignorance is showing POS

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JamieIRL

      Commenting on this article was no available at Fox News (because the website is full of racist morons) so I'd imagine that many of them have made their way here to express their hillbilly opinions.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • caliz


      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • BLK 007

      You say your Moma is a Monkey- sorry to hear that.
      So that makes you an idiot right!!!!!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • idiocracy

      you said it! Johnny Rebel said it best in one of his songs, "Ship Those N!ggers Back!". america would be 150% better without all the monkeys in it.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Roger Smith

    hes not going to be charged.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jaymi

    I believe this trial is going to be a huge circus. I wonder if it will be open to the media? Anyways, maybe the family can get some closure. What happened to Zimmerman being a "white mexican" ?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cielo

      He was NEVER a white mexican, but a white HISPANIC. His mother is Peruvian.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NeoGraphix

    Now that he has been charged, everyone get back to work.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      He hasn't been charged, that was just an opinion. It is now, 3:25pm E.T. and he hasn't been charged yet. In a racist society like the U.S.A., rednecks have a license to kill blacks. The Police, Coroner, D.A. and all the racist work together with these types of Cover-Ups. It is my personal belief that young Trayvon was shot in the back while pleading for his life. The Police told Zimmerman exactly what to say to aviod prosecution. Zimmerman's father, a magistrate who works with the courts in VA , knew exactly what to say to the media tomake White America think that it was self defense and by the way he hadn't even spoken to his son, this reinforced & added fuel to Zimmerman's Lying Alibi

      April 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mary J

    It is my understanding that Trayvon weighed about 140 lbs and that George Z weighed a good 50 lbs more than that.
    Trayvon did not run. He walked very fast and George was following him in his vehicle part of the way. You be the judge of who beat up who.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • dao

      Trayvon was a 6'2" football player, George was a 5'8" fat ass. You make the call.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Zimmerman weight was 250 lbs. The Racist Media added several inches to Trayvon's height he was 5'11' & weight of 140 lbs and most of all unarmed. Only a fool would think, that this 17yr old & 140 lbs disarmed Zimmerman and had this Police Wannabe beggin for his life. This was added by Zimmerman's Father who is a magistrate that works with courts that means he knows exactly what to add to his son's Alibi in order for him not to get charged

      April 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. K

    Lock down all airports and borders. He may try to leave the country.. If not already...

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • dark paul

      Too late! He's already in Peru! Buhahahahahaha

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • americansarelost

      being a jew,he might already be shooting palestinian children in israel.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. videriquamesse

    Ler a jury of Zimmerman's peers hear the evidence and render a verdict. That is if a jury of what the print and broadcast media have termed, "white Hispanics" can be empaneled. The term white Hispanic is an idiotic contortion of semantics calculated to wring from this tragedy every last ounce of race baiting prejudice available.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Don't be an Idiot. There are White, Black and mixed Hispanics. Meaning there are White, BLack and mixed Puerto Ricans, Cubans & Latinos. Africans arrived in all these places into slavery there

      April 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BLK 007

    Say what you want- whoever!!
    But he should have been charged that night- doesn't matter what the kid did before, doesn't matter who zimmerman may be or not be. All that matter is what happen that night. If it was your child, you would want him charged- and that's a fact. You can lie to me but not yourself. He is going to be charged wether you like it or not, and the President of the United States is Barack Obama, wether you like it or not, If you don't like either cases, maybe because it your parent fault for not teaching you, or lack of education and understanding- either way these are tha fact- if you don't like either one- you are free to move to another country, and if you don't have the money- email me I will help you because I'm a Millionaire.SMILE!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      What's your e-mail address? I would like some millionaire help to move to Australia.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      I really hope you are right with your opinion. I have worked with Law Enforcement and I have seen cover ups before. After, the Sanford Police Dept decided not to charge Zimmerman, they must show the world that it was self defense or stand your ground. Now the Coroner has to support the police, during his autopsy he cuts the entrance wound so that Embalmer cannot even tell whether Trayvon was shot from the front or the back. This has happened all over the country to Blacks to show it was Justifiable Homicide. Check Naples Fl, several young blacks disappeared after being confronted by a police deputy and has never been seen again. He always says he dropped them off at a local Conven Store (7-11). He made racist remarks before he even confronted them. Just stating whats going on in FL & America

      April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. shugie

    Interesting argument Steve. Are you saying that because of the statistics you quoted that it is OK to pop off the odd black man to even the ratio? The kid was legitimately in the neighborhood, he had no criminal record. If this guy's argument is that 'statistically' the kid was a threat due to his blackness and the numbers you are throwing around, I hope you are not his l lawyer.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      It's amazing that no one here mentions that it was Zimmerman who has demostrated violent behaviour. Zimm has been arrested several times for assault/battery. Once he was charge with assault on a police officer. None of you white people even wants to mention. You cannot tell me that his father who works as a court magistrate in VA has influence and knows exactly how to get charges dropped against his son.. How did Zimmerman get a concealed weapons permit, with a violent past. I would like to actually see his concealed weapons permit that is if actually has one. I don't believe he has a concealed weapons permit.. I think Sanford Police Dept also threw that spin out to the Public to aid to his Alibi for having a weapon

      April 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bails

    should have happened on day one!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Fordtruck

    If the police were doing their job there would be no need for a community watch. Troubled kids like Trayvon are the reason why our police departments are on overload and citizens are not protected properly. I would have done the same think Zimmerman did!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FlotsamJetsam

    IIts even more heated over on FoxNews, the NRA gun lovers are having a fit. Stand your ground doesn't stand a chance.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Stand Your Ground has been placed in Florida giving White People the Right to Shoot & Kill and Murder Black People. How many Black People have gotten off on the Stand Your Ground Defense. None, that I know of. There is a case in Tampa now, a 70 yr old black male (Dooley) shot & killed a 40 yr old white man who actually tackled Dooley from behind after an argument and during the struggle Dooley killed this man. Dooley, the Black Man was arrested immediately and had to post $50,000 bond, his concealed weapons permit was revoked and the Judge ordered him to stay away from his own house where his family lives. Where is the NRA in Mr Dooleys defense. Dooley had to get a 2nd mortgage on his home for money for his own defense. The N.R.A. is nothing but the KKK, in disguise

      April 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Roger Smith

    the reporter who came up with this story, now repeated in all the news, is making a wild bet on their career, hoping to be the one who got the scoop. a very shady reporter at that.

    Sari Horwitz, a longtime Post investigative reporter, was suspended for three months for plagiarizing sections of stories that first appeared in the Arizona Republic.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dtrack55

    Finally took them long enough, good news it is!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mre2

    "State Attorney Angela Corey will hold a news conference Wednesday night at the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Ms. Corey is prepared to release new information regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation.
    The news conference will begin at 6:00 p.m. The State Attorney’s Office is located at 220 E. Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville."

    April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
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