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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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

    the world sure dont owe african americans anything, but america owe them wages for 400 years of free labor. and thats a fact and the world knows it. so leave the world out of your statement (stop trying to mislead readers).

    April 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike e

      13% do not work...AND LIKE MOST BLACKS...they feel as if someone owes them. Slavery was wrong...but it is over and has been for long time (with the exception of pockets still existing in Africa) So get jobs, get an education and pay some taxes.........

      April 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • PAUL MAC


      April 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • PAUL MAC


      April 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John

    I'm surprised it took this long for the decision to have this tried. Regardless of what people believe, a boy was murdered. Regardless if Zimmerman did it in self defense or not, the case should be looked at in an attempt to determine justice.

    The one thing that really gets me about this whole case is how it immediately became about race. I wasn't there, so maybe Zimmerman did use a racial slur or was racially profiling, but we cannot jump to conclusions are begin spewing lies about this man. Also interesting that no one really points out the black panther putting a bounty on the capture of Zimmerman....

    April 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • le2earth

      Amen to that! I can't believe the coverage of this non story. There are almost 1000 murders in Florida annually. Since this case there probably have been more murders and no one cares what happened in that case? Move on...

      April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      I think the race issue was also about why the police didn't arrest him to begin with and how they handled the investigation. I'm actually a lot more concerned about whether the law enforcement made decisions influenced by race, than if Zimmerman did.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      There are like 4 new black panthers in the whole countryand I've seen that little sidebar story on CNN, MSNBC, and even John Stewart. I don't watch FOX because I have a brain, but I'm sure they have done hours on that... so, how is it NOT being covered. It is laughable that people keep naming situations across the country and whining because they didn't get the same amount of coverage as this. None of them were like this... remember baby Jessica in the well, Casey Anthony, O.J.? They all caught the nation's attention... jeeze.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. XXOO

    He is SO INNOCENT. That kid was a thug and totally deserved what he received! Now his parents are out for their 15 mins of fame just like that moron Sharpton and Jackson - both total LOSERS and worthless in society. That thug would have ended up in prison anyway; so glad we got rid of him when we did!!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      Oh no you didn't go there, white boy.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • robert johnson

      another dirty hispanic off the street....thank god

      April 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Reniya

    My thing is self defense is normally when someone is doing something to you not when your following someone not bothering you....I'm just saying.....this is ridiculous.....what a world

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. smilee33

    So, after they make the announcement are they going to say "guilty" as well? I am not saying he is or he isn't. We just seem to have a problem with our media exposing too much before ALL facts are gathered....such as the 911 call being "edited" and the media person responsible for that being fired. Why are they showing a dated photo of the teen...looking much younger...and then showing a mug shot of the shooter looking like he's ready to pound license plates? I'm sick of people trying to hang someone because of racist tools that we have in the media. It seems as if it's only racist if it's against a black person...what if it was a black shooter and the person who was shot was Asian? Would it be racist? Would we be covering this 24/7? Probably not.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin

    Here come charges – CNN is partying right now! CNN's editorial staff congratulating each other on a job well done. Mission accomplished!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CP

    Charge filed as it should be. It's about time.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. von

    You have Zimmerman's brother's picture instead of George posted.....

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ferris

    Everyone on here keeps jumping to conclusions. Honestly, nobody knows what the evidence are or what played a role in the shooting. It is so sad that we cannot just get all the facts before making a determination on either side. Race, small boy and Skittles may have nothing to do with it. For all we know the little kid (since these are all young pictures of him) may have had a sharp rock in his hand trying to stab Zimmerman. Then again, the gunshot could have happened before anything else. I hate this, because everyone keeps making comments without knowing anything, and this has become a racial issue, and it may not even be. NBC edited the audio, I hope everyone making comment knows that among other things. No people, just wait to hear the facts instead of jumping to conclusions!

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Thanks for your post... Did you have a good day off?

      April 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ferari lover


    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mart56

    That's fine, charge him, the man is innocent until proven guilty. With all the details I have heard and the justice system we have, he will never be convicted
    What then, what will the protest be about, our poor justice system?
    I don't believe in a life for a life, but it really upsets me when I read about all the killings by blacks and not a one has raised so much outcry. I feel we are being discriminated against.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J

    What's sad is that no one on this planet truly knows what they look like, let alone somebody else. Consider this: If one's soul is to live forever, and the body is buried 6 feet under, then what does one truly look like?

    There is a reason Jesus said to crucify the flesh, it's of no value past this life.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Fine upstanding black men


    Look at these nice guys help out there fellow man who is in need of help

    April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. demo Joseph

    You folks are so racist. Just because we all have a voice now, you want to boo hoo hoo. When it was all about you good guys, it was always right. The world will never go back as it was when you guys ruled. Get a life, Get a Job, and shut the h...up.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. QMAX1234

    So anyone with an opposing view is racist according to racist white people on here who think that Trayvon should've been murdered. But guess what under stand your ground law you have a right to defend yourself if you fear for your life. Isn't it amazing Zimmerman can use this defense but Trayvon, who was alleged to attack Zimmerman is deserving of death no matter if he thought his life was in danger? Hmmm. White people live involking law and order only if it's them.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
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