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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    If people would simply go back and read their bibles and stay off the internet maybe we could all learn something. Please just wait on the man to go to trial so we can see all the evidence before we go hanging anyone.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheann

      Soup, your on the internet

      April 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      @soup yep, if everyone got off the internet and just read one book for all their source of knowledge, the world would be such a great place huh?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bob_lawbla

    While I agree that charges are warranted, I don't think a private citizen can profile a person. Profiling is strictly attributed to law enforcement. That being said, I don't believe anyone still knows all of the facts in the case but as has been pointed out, had Zimmerman listened to the 911 operator then this would not be a news story.

    In addition, it is reprehensible what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have done to promote their agenda, which is obviously to create racial tension so they can feed their enourmous, yet unwarranted egoes. Funny how you never heard from them in regards to the Tulsa (white perpetrators) or Baltimore (black perpetrators) stories.

    Lastly I think the "New" Black Panther Party should learn how to do some basic math before they start threatening violence against whites on a national scale. 12.9% of the population against 75% of the population is not a winning formula.
    ( http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2010/glance/files/2010CensusBriefs.pdf )

    April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJM

      12.9% of the population are NOT members of the New Black Panters, so check YOUR math dummy. Don't blame Jackson & Sharpton for the racism that has existed in the USA for over 200 years. Racial profiling is a real problem in America and you don't have to be in law enforcement to make wrong judgments about someone based on their race or color.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • wm smale

      You hit the nail on the head about Sharton and Jackson, these two perpetuate racism to further their own sick agenda. Without the race card (crutch) many blacks would actually have to stand on their own two feet and become accountable rather than place blame for their shortcomings. Sharpton and Jackson do their race a disfavor and only set them back with their agenda. Without racisim these two would fade with the sunset of yesterday. Stop using race as an excuse. Have some self respect and account for yourself

      April 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. C.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see a race issue really, I see a trigger issue. This loser wanted to shoot somebody, so he did. He's a killer and I hope they throw the book at him and look him up for life.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pro Zimmerman

    This is not a black thing? PLEASE! Even Obama got involve. Thank God his term is almost up! Mitt Romney hope to see you soon as President of the United States!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      you're pro zimmerman and pro romney? wow, you'd be a great poster child for the romney campaign.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MmmRocks

    I love how often it gets brought up that Treyvon Martin was suspended for having a baggie with marijuana residue on it. People go as far as to call him a thug because of it. Yet, no one brings up the fact that George Zimmerman assaulted a police officer in 2005. I guess the term "thug" is only applied to black people.

    I'm a white male who is glad Zimmerman will face trial.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      I'm still trying to figure out how "suspended for tardies" became "suspended for marijuana residue and theft and robbery and carrying a screwdriver and stealing jewelry and being a rapist and a home invader!"

      April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Toilet Bug

    Hmm, media sensationalism...Source close to the investigation has told CNN, that Zimmerman will be charged, but CNN has no idea as to the charges. Are we to imply that the source close to the investigation does not know the charges? What a load. It is just CNN media hype. If he is charged it will be with involuntary manslaughter or wreckless endangerment, something trivial along those lines. If CNN were to post that in the headlines, it would not be as sensational for them. Dear Lord, what will the media have to blow out of proportion now???

    April 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RJP

    My momma said alligators are mean because they got all those teeth and no toothbrush.

    My momma also said, if it were a white teen shot and a black man was never charged..the people saying long live zimmerman would be saying death to the black shooter.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      Pure B S. I'm a white person and I wouldn't care. I see it every day on the news. It's just what you black animals do. We are used to it.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Junggg

    Mob justice prevails, it seems.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob


    LOOK AT THESE INNOCENT BLACK PEOPLE BEAT THIS BAD WHITE MANhttp://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c2#/video/crime/2012/04/09/tsr-sylvester-man-beaten-baltimore.cnn


    April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. amac

    From Wikipedia [topic: Manslaughter]:

    In Florida, manslaughter, defined as: The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder . . . is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison regardless of whether the act may have been intentional or not. If manslaughter is committed upon a child via culpable negligence under FL statute 827.03(3), then the crime is aggravated manslaughter of a child which is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. The penalty is the same if it is committed upon the elderly or disabled. Also, under the 10-20-Life system, if a firearm is used in any way then the penalty will be raised to the next degree.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. yahmez

    It's not really standing your ground if you have to go on the run and disappear afterwards.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Doug

    If you are opposed to mob rule and the black panther racist community, please donate to help the Zimmerman defense team.


    April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jesse & Al Are Poverty Pimps

    Charges are merely a formality to keep Florida from burning. The jungle bunnies would be rioting, looting, murdering, etc if no charges were filed. Zimmerman acted in self-defense. The prosecutors know that but they have to do this to appease the tar bunnies.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJM

      Thus, your tar bunny white mama must be real happy now.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dee

    Don't worry Trayvon supporters, Trayvon is doing some major damage to Zimmerman psyche right now. He's depressed, sleepless, homeless, unemployed, broke, loved by KKK and aryan nation ( a very unfortunate position for a hispanic), and hated by most.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan

    The media gets their man!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
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