Last Updated: 7:23 p.m.
Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, has charged George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer, with second degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Corey, sounding confidently in command of the case, made the announcement during a news conference she scheduled for 6 this evening, and said she’d been in contact with Trayvon’s parents since Gov. Rick Scott appointed her to take on the case. “It was less than three weeks ago that we told those sweet parents that we would get answers,” she said.
A second-degree murder charge is the most serious short of first-degree murder, which would have carried a potential penalty of capital punishment, but would have also required proof of premeditation. A second degree conviction requires a finding of behavior “demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life,” according to standard instructions read to juries. The maximum sentence if Zimmerman is convicted is life in prison.
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s new attorney, said from Orlando that Zimmerman would plead not guilty to the charge, and that he would seek Zimmerman’s release on bond. O’Mara didn’t have access to Zimmerman this evening, but was hoping to have that access “hopefully tonight.” He added: “Let’s not prejudge anyone any longer, let’s just let the process work.”
“She had all the evidence, I trust her to have been a good prosecutor,” O’Mara added, when asked about the charge, though he said he would have preferred Zimmerman had not been charged. It’s not clear how O’Mara and Zimmerman teamed up.
Martin was the unarmed black youth killed with one gunshot by Zimmerman, 28, the evening of Feb. 26, not far from the gated community where Trayvon was returning after buying a can of iced tea and skittles. Zimmerman had called in a report to authorities about a suspicious man–referring to Trayvon–who was looking at him as Zimmerman was in his car. Zimmerman was told to let authorities handle it. He ignored the request and chased after Trayvon, but lost him. Minutes later, according to Zimmerman, Trayvon surprised him and attacked him, leading to a scuffle in which, according to Zimmerman, Trayvon punched Zimmerman and beat his head against the ground. Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon in self-defense.
Sanford police seized Zimmerman and interrogated him but did not file charges, as Zimmerman had invoked self-defense under the state’s broadly permissive Stand Your Ground law, which allows individuals not to retreat when feeling threatened, wherever they may be, and shoot assailants to kill.
The case gradually triggered a popular outcry against police’s refusal to charge Zimmerman, with demonstrations on school campuses and in many cities, including Palm Coast, on behalf of Trayvon, demanding Zimmerman’s arrest.
Zimmerman, meanwhile, had briefly vanished. But Corey said he was now in police custody.
“I do understand that he may have retained new counsel in the past couple of hours,” Corey said. “I will not comment on where Mr. Zimmerman is,” she added, but he was in the custody of law enforcement somewhere in Florida.
Corey would not reveal how Zimmerman came under police custody, only hinting that he may have been under police surveillance or control for a while.
The federal Department of Justice is still conducting its own investigation in the case.
“If Stand Your Ground becomes an issue, we fight it if it becomes an affirmative defense,” Corey said, saying her prosecutors routinely “fight hard” against Stand Your Ground issues. Some cases are won. “Some we fought hard, and the judge ruled against us. That’s happened to prosecutors across the state of Florida.”
“When it became clear that the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death was exacerbated by problematic actions of the Sanford Police and local prosecutor, the ACLU of Florida joined in the call for outside investigators to more thoroughly examine what happened that night,” Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said. “Now that charges have been brought, we must remember that George Zimmerman has all the rights of every defendant charged with a crime, including a legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This is not the end of the story, but the wheels of justice are turning.”
“The announcement of a charge against Zimmerman would come a day after Zimmerman’s attorneys withdrew from the case, citing their inability to contact Zimmerman,” the Post is reporting. “Lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig on Tuesday expressed concern about Zimmerman’s emotional and physical well-being, saying he has taken actions without consulting them. They also said they do not know where Zimmerman is. ‘You can stop looking in Florida,’ Uhrig told reporters. ‘Look much further away than that.'” Zimmerman’s life has been threatened, with placards at demonstrations reading “wanted dead or alive,” and reports of a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman’s capture.
While the bounty has been falsely reported on Fox networks as a bounty on Zimmerman’s head, Mikhail Muhammad , a member of the New Black Panther Party, was asked by an Orlando reporter whether the bounty was inciting violence. Muhammad answered: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The bounty was offered by a group that calls itself the New Black Panther Party, an organization described by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the nation, as “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers.” The poverty center’s profile notes that “principals of the original Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 1970s— a militant, but non-racist, left-wing organization — have rejected the new Panthers as a “black racist hate group” and contested their hijacking of the Panther name and symbol.
“As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family, and ultimately my entire life,” Zimmerman wrote on a website he hastily created to raise money for his legal defense subsequent to the killing. The website has registered only a little over 3,000 visits as of late this afternoon. The site quotes Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine and James Loewen, and takes donations through Paypal.
B. Claire says
Well, as long as the Fox ‘News’/‘Corporations are People’ 5 Supreme Court Justices don’t get a say, fairly good chance justice will be served.
However, that won’t make our substantial community of say…racially challenged … folks very happy.
Here’s hoping there is true justice for Trayvon and his most dignified, patient parents.
Now this is no surprise! Angela does not want to make the decision to not charge George, this would be a black mark on her career, literally! This will put George through hell and make all of the “racist blacks” happy so they will stop marching and causing disturbances. She will file charges but no jury of his peers is going to convict him. So once their ancestral heritage kicks in and they pick the cotton out of their ears and hear “no conviction”, they will start all over!
Why would you say they won’t convict? Seems like an open and shut case to me….
He was told to walk away and he did not. His rights ended right there. He provoked whatever ocurred. Shouldn’t take a jury more than 5 minutes…
I have feeling he headed to Miami and turned himself in there.
Another example of being pre-judged in the media and pressured from the political side to avoid problems that may be a problem during a run for re-election..
Again, everyone is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty by a jury of ‘their peers”.
Why don’t you replace this photo with a current one? Is this media attempting to portray GZ as a past/current criminal?
B. Claire says
Maybe some good will come out of all this…REPEAL of these horrendous ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in all 21 states:
Bloomberg Blasts NRA Over ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for the nationwide reform or repeal of Stand Your Ground laws today at an event in Washington D.C. to announce the Second Chance on Shoot First campaign.
The campaign is intended to prevent killings like that of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and Bloomberg blamed the National Rifle Association for the Florida law that many feel empowered George Zimmerman to shoot the unarmed Martin.
“In reality the NRA’s leaders weren’t interested in public safety. They were interested in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands and face no consequences for it. Let’s call that by its real name, vigilantism,” he said. ”The NRA should be ashamed of themselves. This has nothing to do with gun owners rights. It has nothing to do with the second amendment.”
In Florida, he said, justifiable homicides increased from 12 per year to 36 per year when the five years before and after the passage of the law were compared.
If you don’t want to stand your ground when someone attacks you, try’s to rape you, rob you, or murder you, you have that right but don’t try to take my rights away. 12-36 justifiable homicides per year means 24 less criminals on the streets to do it again and and again. The 2nd amendment has every thing to do with protecting yourself by deadly force. I value my life and criminals could care less who they hurt. Bloomberg should mind his own business and stop the crimes filling the streets of New York. The NRA stands up for the rights of the people and if you don’t like that then too bad for you. I have rights just like you, the only thing is I don’t think I have the right to take yours away as you think you have the right to take mine. If you don’t like the laws here you can move to wherever you want.
The Truth says
That would make sense, if it applied to this situation. It did not, with the facts that have been released clearly proving this. Mr. Zimmerman followed this young boy, when asked not to by police. He was following him throughout the apartment complex for no reason other than he was black (yes, I realize was asked this) and he had a hoodie and looked like he was up to no good. He made an opinion on this young boy without any facts that prove otherwise. The poor boy was walking around talking to his girlfriend. Last I checked, there’s nothing wrong with this.
Now, all of you Fox News watching, uptight conservatives who seem to think that Mr. Zimmerman was attacked and he had a right to shoot this boy are up in arms because he was arrested. Why don’t you defend the boy for DEFENDING HIMSELF. He was being followed, he was confronted by this man. Trayvon had no idea what this man was planning to do to him. If he did in fact break his nose, he was DEFENDING HIMSELF. Mr. Zimmerman could have easily walked away from the altercation on numerous occasions but he DIDN’T. Because of that, this young boy is dead.
Audrey Lawrence says
“…the facts that have been released clearly proving this. Mr. Zimmerman followed this young boy, when asked not to by police.” How do you know GZ continued to follow TM whenasked not to by police? Were you there too?
Seems a lot of people were there witnessing this.
Jennifer S. says
Just curious, Chuck… who died & made you dictator? Why are all of your one-sided, extremely self-righteous edicts automatically standard & a fair assumption of what the rest of your countrymen value & deserve? As an American, some of the core values instilled in me is this is a land of tolerance and acceptance, you know… “we, the people” not “we, the people… well insofar as one see’s it Chuck’s way & no way else”. I thought the American dream, in part, was the fact that we could all live amongst each other as individuals, with different ideas being welcomed and embraced. A place where I could freely express my point of view without fear of legal persecution, becoming socially stigmatized, or being stoned to death in doing so in the process. Your mentality truly flabbergasts me. I am sure in your mind you purport to fervently defend this great country of ours… her values, uniqueness, and freedoms… yet within a matter of keystrokes, not only related to this article but several other comments of yours, have fully rationalized your flippant and flagrant disregard in the recognition of the keystone to our greatness.
So, Chuck, I would like to know should the “stand your ground” laws become successfully challenged & subsequently changed would you defend the new laws just the same? Your patriotism in full effect, living & loving this great Country of ours? Or perhaps, let’s say you were not so happy with this outcome so ill-suited to your dogma, do I then have the right to tell you to go live somewhere else & to enjoy it all the same?
So if I am reading above post correctly, it sounds like you had 24 victims that fought back because the law was changed. So basically you have 24 bad guys less that taxpayers have to pay for to incarcerate. as well as 24 less murder victims.
Bloomberg is a rich boob that travels with many armed security people around him. This was true even before he was Mayor. He really has no horse in this race. He is merely posturing for higher office.
flagler beach native says
stand your ground law has nothing to do with this . the man chased the kid down followed him !!!!! the self defence stand your ground had nothing to do with this .he can through that defence out the door when he folloed the kid after the police told him not too .
Concerned Parent says
I agree with you on this. The “stand your ground” law is to protect the rights of an attacked individual, but not a reason to become a “Judge, jury, and executioner”. There is no place for vigilantes except behind bars!
The man was told to stand down by the police (so we have all heard) and was attacked. He felt he had the right to defend himself (and he does), but if he had done what the police told him to do in the first place, then none of this would’ve happened.
Maybe this wasn’t premeditated, but some people take things way too far. From what we have heard from the media (and we all know that they don’t filter out things like current pictures, right?), this should NEVER have happened.
What I find to be the second worse thing about this story is the media putting the picture of Zimmerman in an orange jumpsuit making people see him as a criminal and Trayvon’s picture of him when he was 12! Talk about subliminal messaging! A convict and an innocent, the media all but have come out and said he was guilty.
If he is guilty, let the courts decide. What ever happened to non-partial reporting? Just tell the story guys!
The one question in my mind is;
If Zimmerman has an arrest record, how did he get a licence to carry a weapon at all?
I thought that was the whole reason for the licencing in the first place.
Audrey Lawrence says
“the man chased the kid down followed him !!!!! the self defence stand your ground had nothing to do with this” and when the dispatcher told GZ they didn’t want him to follow (TM), GZ replied “ok”. What makes you think GZ continued to follow TM?
The number of witnesses that were there that night are growing by the second.
Rocky Mac says
Goodfella: It was the marches that brought justice to this case. I was on a protest march and we did not cause a disturbance. Sorry to disappoint you.
Support your local NRA.
Jo shmoe says
Flagler beach native, to bad the police never actually told him not to follow. They told him they didn’t need hik to follow.
No one caused any disturbances, No one caused any trouble whatsoever. Give truth a chance… All anyone wanted was for GZ to explain his actions to a jury of his peers. This is about to be accomplished.
Chuck the NRA is using you and all it’s members to laugh all the way to the bank… If you are a member than I am sure you are bombarded with phone calls, e mails and expensive mailings asking for donations on a daily basis. the rhetoric they spew is from in side the bubble of lies and half truth’s. Wake Up!
I don’t see you sticking up for my rights. If you don’t want to own weapons that is your choice but don’t tell me I can’t. And there was a disturbance when Trayvon attacked GZ when he was walking back to his car. Did you listen to the 911 call when you can hear GZ screaming for help. Not to mention if GZ attacked Trayvon why no bruises or marks on Trayvon according to the autopsy.
Here we have Miller also claiming the “stand your ground” killed Mulhall shooting him 5 times some on his back…and now may be released on bail…? He is a danger to the community, as far as reported.
He has health problems…? Sure he caused more “health problems than his own to others”. His doctor can still treat him and prescribe his med’s in jail, while we wait for these judges to expedite his case and vacate him from jail ….into prison soon, as our jail is crowded.
@Chuck. I made it alright to my elderliness without any guns around me or any “stand and shoot” law. Also my kids made it fine to over 40, so far and without guns. If a bad intended criminal will approach us, I have a good old baseball bat handy, my kids will use their karate brown belt and/or physical fitness against aggression, but also we stay clear of dubious places, and dudes. Just don’t go around looking for trouble.
The second amendment is misinterpreted by bullies..and business profit with the NRA blessings. If guns were not as easy available many lives would be saved. Lets just our law enforcement and army, protect us.
I ain’t moving anywhere and “I stand my ground” right here with B.Claire and the others..
I am glad to hear that. I just hope if anything bad were to ever happen to you and the criminal has a gun I hope you are good enough of a swing to bat bullets and that your children’s karate brown belt enables them to dodge bullets.
Palmcoaster, be careful with that baseball bat. Under the law, it can be considered deadly force if it is known by law enforcement that you intend to use it for that.
A few years ago my nephew was stopped for speeding. The officer asked him why the bat in the back seat. My nephew told him he had been threatened and it was for protection. My nephew was arrested.
If anybody asks you what you intend to do with that bat, you tell them you play 2nd base.
@palm coaster,4/19/1992 at 3 am in the morning i was woke up to the sound of glass breaking upon going to see what made this sound i found two strange men in my living room i was told i was going to die i grabbed a baseball bat and started swinging it, 1 hour later iwas in handcuffs and arrested on several charges of assault,3 years of hell later 54,000 in lawyer fees i was found not quilty. be thankful yall live in a self defense state unlike nys where i committed the crime of defending my home and family
Flagler Native. You prejudged unless you were a witness, and if you are I’d like to hear your vesion as to what happened..
B. Claire says
Look out American Society of Plastic Surgeons/Rhinoplasty docs
…look at what Police Cruiser medics can do with a broken nose …!
Wow after reading the charging afidavit it is pretty apparent that they have an extremely weak case. It appears to be the old prosecutorial trick of throwing all the mud you can and hope something sticks. This is defianately a case that needs to be decided by a judge and not a jury.
Mr. Zimmerman is sadly “like father like son’s” case, to me. Now just a frightened 20 something’s year old envisioning maybe life in prison. Also sad and one more victim of “the stand your ground law and the NRA’s lobby for guns to all”.
If you have a bat in the car (aluminum, I hope), please have a baseball with it (or a glove).
“Officer, I’m a designated hitter!”
Not bat outside the house…and inside I have also some pretty heavy iron frying pans, one brave alert of suspicious breaking ins pooch and some attack birds…that in occasions have scared away would be bandits even by the next door neighbors, homes. No need to worry about me and thanks anyway.
baseball bats and brown belts, you guys are hilarious! those should stand up real well against a gang attick or home invader ;)