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Zimmerman's former attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner told reporters they had lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.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‚Äôs no winners here. ‚Ä¶ 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:
‚ÄúForty‚Äďfive days after Trayvon Martin‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚ÄĒlooked 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‚Äôve got to address the issues of racial profiling and the valuation of black mens‚Äô 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs children.‚ÄĚ
[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 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.
[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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúwill be (criminally) charged if (he) hasn‚Äôt been charged already,‚ÄĚ 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.
I wonder if they will show the jury only the photo of him as 12 years old. She could get some baby photos and call Zimmerman a baby killer.
I was just thinking the same thing. What is up with all the pics of Trayvon from years ago?
One of the 2 is dead. What was your point?
the picture of zimmerman isn't recent either.
No but maybe they can get some pics of Zimmerman assaulting his fiance. Just sayin'.....
What does the photo of Trayvon have to do with it? Just because he may have looked more intimidating he deserved to be shot?
Trayvon WAS a child, though.
And I say, if it's criminal for an adult to inappropriately touch a child, it should be doubly criminal for an adult to kill a child.
Agreed. I don't know if this guy is guilty or not but he has already been convicted in the eyes of many. I ho
he is actually a big guy now over 6 ft tall and build well, how come we dont get to see newer pictures??
So it's okay to kill an unarmed person on their walk home if they're older and taller?
This is not the correct way to handle a case like this under the pressure of the media and the threatening of racist groups out there. The reality of race in America is very sensitive based on the way people lives every day. African European are very different from African American in these matters. The African American more on the offense in being racist more than any one else in America. Look what is going on in Africa and Asia, Islam ruling is a complete disaster for its own people killing each others on daily bases whether they are African killing African or Asian killing Asian, their world is on fire and we can't allow them to bring the same fire to the US. This incident is took place in the wrong time and no one wanted it to happen, matter of fact this accident ended in death of African American or it could end in the loss of Hispanic person. The idea here why George called the police if he was going to racially kill someone he hate, which is not true, he could do it and run away, but he didn't, he stayed trying to evaluate or save the kid life and also was arrested. So this enough to tell that the African kid was on the offensive in this case and it doesn't need an expert to figure out what Happened? the reality is that in this case more blown balloons more than it is in reality.
Any charges from this tragedy are pointless. There is no evidence to support that this was a racially motivated crime or to disprove Zimmerman's account of the incident. No matter what Al Sharpton or the media says, there was no crime here. Just a tragedy.
gosh, pablo, i thought that law enforcement is supposed to make these calls.
How do you know that without a trial ?
Yeah, dead victims tell no tales, huh?
It's the only way Zimmerman can clear his name. The prosecution, defense team, and police have proven they're completely incompetent. A trial is probably the best way.
Sounds like you have all the insider information from the investigation. Were you involved?
Umm... who said he was going to get charged with a hate crime?
In the absence of any other evidence, he should be considered a murderer. A lack of evidence really does not work in Zimmerman's favor here. He gunned down an unarmed kid. If there's no evidence to corroborate his explanation, we really have no reason to believe him.
You're basically expecting us to "trust the perp".
No matter what pablo says, the court gets to decide if there was a crime or not.
How do you know there s no evidence. They haven't released any of the physical evidence, autopsy report, or medical reports.
It amazes me that that people like you wanted this man to remain free. This man armed with a gun, followed someones child and shot him. This kid did not know who this person was. There are 911 tapes with time stamps and cell phone records with times stamps. Dont be hatin because now you and people like Zimmerman cannot just go out and harass someone and when you are getting your butt kicked, turned around, shoot and kill and claim self defense . JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED
You are correct my friend.
It's very ignorant of you Pablo that you don't see it.
He was on the phone with the police when he chased down a young man, who was doing nothing wrong, and killed him. How is that not a crime. You are a racist and dont even know it if you think that his actions on chasing down an innocent young man and assuming he was doing something wrong, used the words "they" to describe to the police, and think his assumptions are not racialy motivated.
You are crazy, no crime comitted. I wonder if it was your son would you say no crime comitted?
If I follow you after been advised not to, an altercation ensures, and I end up shooting you – I am guilty! You can slice it anyway you want. I don't have the right to follow someone, shoot them, and then claim self-defense.
@pablo ...The REAL tragedy is your post, as well as your intelligence ...or shall I say, your lack thereof.
I agree that this is sad all around, however, had zimmerman just obeyed the police there would be no problem, no dead child, no ruined life. What he did was wrong from a human standpoint not a racial standpoint.
There is a crime Mr. Zimmerman disobayed a lawful order not to pursue the person but he chose to do so. If Trayvon had a gun and shot Zimmerman first would he be justified?
If that were the case, then there would never be reason to file charges for any murder committed in FL. Someone can always claim self defense at the scene and walk away, espedially if when the "attacker" is dead. The bottom line is, Zimmerman killed a boy. He has every right to claim it was self defense. But everything should be taken through the judicial system.
anytime someone is killed by un-natural causes a crime was committed, and there are always initial charges regardless if the death was intentional or not. Read a basic law book.
The only tragedy was people tried to sweep this under the rug, and those still trying to defend Zimmerman or down play the event SUCH AS YOURSELF.
It's sad that racists here already have let Zimm off the hook. I guess that's par for the course.
Why is everybody that dares questioning this witch hunt automatically a racist?
It is say you have already convicted Mr. Zimmerman.
Is it too late to give Florida back to Spain?
Not until California breaks off and floats away.
Maybe if we throw in Arizona and California they'll consider it. We'd get the better of the deal.
Are the only pictures of Trayvon available those pictures taken when he was 12 years old?
I wondered that too. But now I think maybe he just looked small for his age. In his high school football picture he looked kind of young too.
They'll probably hit him with some kind of BS misdemeanor in attempt to quiet the masses. He killed the young man and needs to be charged as such,
How you liking your gunslinger law now Florida ?
I like the Stand Your Ground law. I feel safer knowing that someone who is trying to kill me must think I wonder if this person has a gun.
Charge: Defending oneself?
Maybe Treyvon was defending himself?
Wasn't Trayvon defending himself? It was Zimmerman who made confrontation.
He gets to tell the truth to the court and let a jury of his peers judge if he did or not. I would not just take the shooter's words, would you ?
Imagine if Zimmerman (or anyone else) kills your son or your brother, he says it's self defense, do you think you should just take his words or do you demand the court of law decide if he's guilty or not ?
Forget the color of what Trayvon was....just think about if it was YOUR SON who was gunned down like that. There is black on black crime everyday, white on white crime everyday, but this case is sad. I don't care what color he was...I just think that it could have been my son.
And if it was your own son who attacked someone then he too would face the consequences and one of them is the person he is attacking defending himself.
You forget, Travon was the one who jumped George and broke his nose telling George he was going to die. That is a threat and the kid got what he deserved... you make a big boy threat, you get a big boy answer
I don't think I would have the fortidute to file pattens so I could make a lot of money off his death. But I am white at least thats what Jackson says.
I like your comment, forget the color of this young man's skin. I still don't know what happened. Did he confront Zimmerman? Did Zim merman confront Trayvon? Was Zimmerman really punche d in the face? Where there any other marks on Trayvon? ????? What does the EVIDENCE show/say?
Well said. It should not matter what colors the shooter and the victim are. The shooter killed someone, he claimed self defense, we are not to judge, but the court should be the place where the shooter is judged.
I will ask the same to those who defend Zimmerman without reasons, if the killed were your son or daughter, or if someone is to kill your son or daughter, and the shooter says it's self defense, do you say let the shooter go or do you demand the shooter be tried in a court of law (to be find guilty or be set free) ?
"Forget the color of what Trayvon was....just think about if it was YOUR SON who was gunned down like that."
I would hurt horribly to the same degree as his parents but unlike them, I might blame myself if I hadn't taught my son an important lesson: Don't bring fists to a gun fight! Never challenge or attack someone who is armed even if you feel you are in the right! Also, unlike his parents, I would recognize that the largest contributing factor to my son's death wasn't his skin color or clothing but his attack against a man he knew to be armed.
Why does CNN keep using the picture of "the kid" instead of the picture of him as a ADULT high school dropout/kicked out gangsta wanna be thug?
And the happy-go-lucky, great personality pic of Zimmerman should be changed to the paranoid, racial-profiler instead right?
Why do you keep saying things untrue ? Martin was a kid, never an adult (and as a result of the shooting, will never get the chance to be an adult). He was on a two week suspension from school but not a high school dropout. I'd say between CNN and you, you are the one more biased and less truthful
Jiggs will be jiggs.
And gashes will be gashes
SOMETHING IS SERIOUSL;Y WRONG WITH YOU CHRISSY! YOU ARE SO INTIMMIDATED BY BLACK PEOPLE. I WILL PRAY THAT GOD DELIVERS YOU PEACE, TOLLERANCE, AND SOME INTELLIGENCE! LOVE IS WHAT I PRAY FOR YOU TO RECEIVE. CAN'T FIGHT HATRED WITH ANYTHING BUT LOVE! FROM ONE BLACK WOMAN, MOTHER, WIFE, AND SOON TO BE GRANDMOTHER, I LOVE YOU AND GOD DOES TOO. IF, BY CHANCE, YOU DON'T BELIVE IN GOD, WELL, THEN, THAT WILL EXPLAIN WHY YOU'RE SO CALLOUS. BUT, ONE THING, I DARE YOU TO WALK UP TO A GROWN ASS BLACK PERSON AND CALL THEM A JIGG! FEEL SO SORRY FOR YOU, BOO BOO!
A shocker to say the least.
I find it interesting all the talk about Zimmerman standing his ground, but there is not much discussion on the fact that Zimmerman was following Martin and maybe it was Martin who was standing his ground. That is why there needs to be a trial.
we had 5 killed in a four month period,three law inforcement agents ,a pregnant girl with her killers baby, by an africa american here in augusta ga where isthe outrage?
They all deserve to be tried and found guilty or set free. There would be outrage if they weren't.
It's Obama's DOJ, was any other outcome expected from them since they've never spoken out on the illegal bounties put on this man's head? Innocence/guilt is irrelevant. Just another venue they hope will ensure him a second term.
What a moronic statement. Obama's DOJ? Incorrect and proves your ignorance. If charged, it will be done by Ms Corey, the local state atty general from Jackaonville, who was appointed to handle this by Repub Gov Scott! She's a tough prosecutor but fair. If she thought there was no case, she'd say so. She can't charge Zimmerman with murder because only a Grand Jury can do that. But she can charge him with manslaughter. So go back under the rock you came from with your bigotry and lack of knowledge and study a littke more..
When OJ killed Nicole , the white people didn't act like fools... we just made fun of it on the nightly talk shows...It's too bad the special prosecutor can't stand up to the pressure of the idiots that are inciting civil unrest. You can't publicly put a bounty on someone's head like the black panthers did. Sharpton and Jackson are the biggest racist I've ever seen against white people.
Yep. You're right NRob.
And despite all that, this diot should still be charged. Isn't that great?
It's a African thing.
Regardless, Zimmerman still needs to face trial, be found guilty or acquitted by a jury or his peers. OJ, Jackson, Sharpton, you and me and every other bigot or fair minded person, shall not be a factor.