George Zimmerman Charged With Second-Degree Murder


Today George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager he shot on February 26 in Sanford, Florida. ABC News reports that he is being held at the Orange County Jail in Orlando. 

Florida law defines second-degree murder as "the unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual." It is punishable by a prison sentence up to life. By contrast, manslaughter, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, is "the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification," when the killing does not meet the definition of murder.

"We did not come to this decision lightly," Angela Corey, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, said at a press conference today. "Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition."

The New York Times persists in mischaracterizing Zimmerman's defense, saying, "Critical to the prosecution will be whether or not the shooting fell under Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law, which gives wide leeway to people who claim self-defense, and which does not require people to retreat before using deadly force." As I've said before, if the fight that ended with Martin's death happened the way Zimmerman has described it, he had no opportunity to safely retreat, so the right to "stand your ground" is not relevant. Assuming Zimmerman gives the same account in his trial that he has already given to police, the crucial issue for the jury will be whether he reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent Martin from killing or seriously injuring him.

Previous coverage of the case here.

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  1. DEATH!

    OK, that one was just to piss off John.

    1. Poor John…he’s gonna be pissed.

      No worries John, Zimmerman will be found not guilty.

      1. Second degree murder is justified to prevent a race riot.

        1. And we laugh at cultures that throw virgins into volcanoes.

  2. Am I the only one who sees nothing to support murder 2 in the available evidence? Not to say there can’t be other evidence not revealed, just that I really hope they actually have something.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. Involuntary manslaughter, something like that. But murder 2 is straight out of the Jack McCoy playbook.

      25 to life! (summation of 75% of Law and Order resolutions).

      1. I always hated Jack McCoy. I was a Ben Stone guy all the way, old school.

        1. To me, Ben Stone always sounded like the name of a guy who should be inventing a new brand of ice cream.

          1. Oh, Jim, so close, yet so far. He didn’t invent it, but blew the lid off it in this little gem.

        2. Though I do love Michael Moriarty, as he is in so many kick-ass movies.

          1. Amen Jim! He was the de facto go to guy for schlocky, disturbing horror flicks. He is vastly underrated as an actor, IMO.

            1. Oh I agree. His collaborations with Larry Cohen were genius. I didn’t even have to check the link; I know exactly what movie you’re linking to, and watched it just a couple of weeks ago.

              Whenever anybody gives me money, I always want mo’.

              1. Yes, yes they were. I have the feeling you were just testing me, Jim. Which I passed effortlessly.

                This one was quite good as well.

          2. Dun dun!

        3. Stone was a vastly more interesting character.

          1. Digress, Fluffster.

            1. Ben Stone was the American Javert. The perfect moralist. Every conflict he faces is never been good and bad parts of himself; it’s always between the good and better parts of himself. When he’s undone, it’s because he’s too good for the world.

            2. McCoy was everything wrong with the American justice system. To McCoy, the law is a tool to be exploited to cater to his own anger, his own prejudices, his own ego.

              The reason I noted the infamous “depraved indifference” 2nd degree murder charge because it’s the only part of the law McCoy knows, because it’s ambiguous enough and versatile enough for him to use it as a weapon against anyone he’s angry at any time anybody dies.

              Stone is subordinate to the law, before anything else. He gets up in the morning and genuflects to the law.

              1. Well done. Thank you.

          2. McCoy was driven mostly by his own bloated but vulnerable ego. He seemed to employ his intelligence mostly as a tool to rationalize his biased(to the rest of world) convictions.
            Bitter, hollow, intellectually dishonest. The character was interesting to watch but so vile, I can’t ever sympathize with it.

      2. McCoy was a Stalinist.

        1. Stalinists aren’t that smug.

        2. He was a doctor, not a politician, dammit!

    2. No, you’re not, based on available evidence. However, TAO conjectured that there would eventually be a plea deal.

      Perhaps they overshot the charge expecting a plea deal congruent with what is known to them, but not to us.

      1. Zimmerman would be crazy to plea. Even if he draws a court full of kangaroos.

        1. If it was me, I’d strongly consider a plea. It will be difficult for Zimmerman to survive a “not guilty” verdict.

          1. And how many seconds will he survive in the general population of a prison?

      2. That’s my expectation. But I’ll be surprised if they make a deal that doesn’t include some jail time.

    3. Prosecutors always overcharge. It’s part of their code just like “probation is for the innocent”.

    4. Its the perfect political charge. It has the word “murder” in it, and the jury will never go for it.

      1. No but the right jury might go for a lesser charge.

        1. Of course those charges would have to be filed, which they aren’t.

          1. No they wouldn’t. Look up “lesser included offense.”

    5. No, you are not the only one. Don’t expect that to stop the lynching.

  3. I’d like to see the bill of particulars, here.

    I’m wondering if there’s evidence that hasn’t been reported yet.

    1. Likely. As all of the witness have not gone public.

  4. I’m so glad I don’t have cable TV anymore.

  5. If Zimmerman was on top and shot him, I can see murder 2. If he wasn’t, I could see manslaughter, maybe.

    1. If you can get Murder 2 for being on top and shooting, then there are going to be a lot of pornstars locked up.

    2. So you’re saying that shooting a guy who knocks you to the ground and then is on top of you, beating you, is manslaughter? That sure seems like self-defense to me.

      1. Not if the jury finds you provoked the attack.

        1. Even if he provoked the attack, if Martin’s response was unreasonable, it could be self-defense.

        2. You mean the way Zimmerman provoked Martin’s attack by following him peacefully?

  6. It’s an IN-JUSTICE to Both George Zimmerman and Travon Martin’s family to charge George Zimmerman with 2nd Degree Murder in Florida.

    They will NEVER GET a conviction on that. The DA did this on purpose, she knows she has NO case so she went with the HIGHEST charge. Wouldn’t be surprise if she goes ALL-or-NOTHING on 2nd Degree and not even allow a lower charge.

    Can you imagine George Zimmerman gets convicted and Casey Anthony is found not guilty? It’s so Florida and the South.

    1. That actually occurred to me, that she over did it on purpose. But then again, a prosecutor would never, never deflate their own conviction rate stats. They are politicians first and fore most.

      1. She’s republican. An not guilty verdict will get her elected.

      2. Makes sense, since they went out of their way to assign a special prosecutor instead of sending it to a grand jury.

        1. I remember reading somewhere that they did send it to a grand jury. They didn’t want to indict so the prosecutor made up her own mind.

    2. Yep all of us damn southerners are just a bunch of tobacco chewing racist that don’t know how to deliberate on a jury.

      Fuck you Alice.

  7. I wonder what disappointed Uncle Charlie even more: his parole hearing not going his way, or his race war prophecy not coming to pass.

    1. Is this a My Three Sons joke I’m just not getting? And if so, please fill me in because I think it’s gonna be a doozy.

        1. It could have been this guy, and I would have been thrilled. Seriously, one of Hitchcock’s best.

          1. I forget how much generational stuff gets lost in time. Manson believed that the Beatles were alluding to a race war in the song Helter Skelter. Here is one long deceased historian and his interpretation.


            1. I think sloopyinca was thrown (as I was) by the “Uncle” part. I’d never heard of Manson referred to that way.

      1. That’s what you get for coming to California late in the game. You didn’t have Charlie Manson in Ohio, oh fuck no. But Cthulhu bless you for the My Three Sons throwback.

  8. The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree

    Fla. Stat. 782.04(2)

    1. Is this the infamous “depraved indifference” 2nd degree murder charge? (Speaking of Law & Order from upthread?)

      1. The one and the same.

    2. “The unlawful killing…”

      If that is indeed requisite for the murder2 rap and any kind of case can be made for Z’s defending himself by killing Trayvon, as you have to think it can, then that lawful killing precludes his being convicted on murder2, doesn’t it?

      1. lawful killing

        Yeah, but if he can demonstrate that, he’s pretty much off the hook for anything.

        1. Not manslaughter.

          1. He’s not charged with manslaughter. If he was, then he claims self-defense and the “stand-your-ground” thing.

            1. I know he’s not. But he could be even if the killing was lawful (self defense) and if he instigated the situation. Ergo, he’s not off the hook for manslaughter in that case.

          2. Yes, it would get him off the hook for manslaughter. Manslaughter (a form of unlawful killing) and lawful killing are mutually exclusive categories.

        2. Zimmerman doesn’t have to prove the killing was lawful. The prosecution has to prove it was unlawful. It sounds like there is enough doubt that that will be very difficult.

  9. 1. Prosecutor gets the heat off her

    2. Air goes out of the Jesse and Al balloon

    3. Zimmerman walks, but has $$$$$ in legal bills

    Despicable from start to finish.

    1. Well, unless you’re the attorney getting the $$$$$ from Zimmerman.

    2. R u kidding me?

      If it wasn’t for the Al Sharpon Show, this would NEVER had happen.

      And, this should happen. I believe Zimmerman will be found Not Guilty. But, at least, in an un-witness shooting involving a non-cop and a minor, there should have been some investigation. The parents should not have had to go to the Al Sharpton show to get an investigation.

      1. But, at least, in an un-witness shooting involving a non-cop and a minor, there should have been some investigation.

        WTF? Doesn’t a cop who shoots a minor without any witnesses at least deserve a few weeks paid leave while an “investigation” goes on.

        1. LoL.

          I think if you polled white conservatives in America and asked for $1 from each, we would get $10mm…easy.

          1. I don’t doubt it for a second.

      2. [there should have been some investigation]


        There was an investigation. But, unlike TV, real CSI doesn’t wrap in 55 minutes. And switching prosecutors and investigators didn’t speed things up either.

    3. Doesn’t FL have to pay all the defendants costs if a jury acquits on a self defense plea?

      1. Pennies compared to what a RACE RIOT would have cost Florida.

        1. If the jury acquits, then Florida will get the costs of a race riot *plus* the costs of Zimmermann’s defense.

      2. Isn’t Pro L a Florida attorney? Maybe he can weigh in on this.

        1. He’s probably busy administering smelling salts to a few people in his office after seeing this announcement. You’ll have to ask him later.

          1. I’m in-house. We don’t give a shit.

            I think they’re aiming at the lesser included offense of manslaughter. Doesn’t sound like the evidence is there for a 2nd degree conviction, though I’m sure there’s some unpublicized evidence.

            Most likely a political move to go for a murder charge, but whether that’s the case will be readily apparent if they have shit for evidence.

            1. Angle of the gun shot wound will be crucial. You heard it here before you heard it on Gracie Jane.

    4. 4. Riots ensue

      5. Jesse and Al get a second wind

      1. I think you are esactly right, but remember, this is a political charge…and politics is all about the short term.

      2. 6. Obama support drops, ensuring his defeat. (Assuming the trial conclude before November.)

    5. He’ll never pay a penny- that’s why he fired his local yokel family law coke attorneys. Some big gun is gonna do this one for the book deal.

  10. Is the guy speaking now a family member?

  11. If this is a family member, he’s going to be the new Papa Goldman.

  12. Oh no, it’s their attorney. Whew.

    Because the last thing the world needs is another Papa Goldman.

  13. I do hope Zimmerman is in protective custody. I don’t think he’d last more than a minute in a General Population section…….

    1. He’ll probably spend just one night in the local can. His family seems more than capable of coming up with whatever the bail is.

      1. Even money his bail is set at at least $1M. And also I’ll bet even money that he ends up in a mental hospital or on suicide watch before this gets to trial.

  14. Serves Zimmerman right as a gay, white, jewish hispanic with a korean boyfriend.

    Hope and Change.

  15. That special prosecutor plainly has her eye on higher office. Her speech was more like an Oscar acceptance speech than an explanation of the charges against Zimmerman.

    Did you notice how she kept using Martin’s first name over and over again, as if he’s an old friend of the family?

    1. Careful, use it too much and the family is apt to demand royalties.

      1. I’m sick of them in record time. They make the Goldman family seem camera shy in comparison.

  16. Let’s say my only weapon is a pen I keep in my pocket protector and Jacob Sullum jumps me after I verbally accost him for not getting off my lawn fast enough while he passes out some libertarian magazine, or for all I know, robs me. Maybe he thought I was going to rape him. How does anyone know? Turns out I’m a nerd and he’s a nerd. But I feared for my life! How do you measure that? So I get a hand free and jam my pen through his ear. He dies. What the heck’s a jury supposed to do with that?

    1. Who was carrying the Skittles?

    2. I think this belongs on the risk literate post from earlier today.

      1. Sorry, I missed that. I stepped out for most of the day to make some money some smelling armpits.

    3. ABC News reports that he is being held at the Orange County Jail in Orlando.

      I hope ABC News did the responsible thing and set up a popcorn stand around the corner before they announced where he is being held. Hate to see a network miss any potential riot scene profits by neglecting to be prepared for it.

      1. BTW, I posted here not because I read the comment above — conjecture really wasn’t doing it for me, but because there is a screamer below I’m trying to avoid. He seems armed and dangerous.

    4. Is there a wookie involved in this somehow?



      1. And Zimmermans dad’s first name was Robert, which is proper for Bob.

    2. “A lot of people have said a lot of things.”

      What the hell does that even mean?
      If you can’t use good grammar and diction…USE CAPS.

    3. ^^This^^ might be the most poorly constructed argument, grammatically, that I’ve seen since orrin. Bonus points for the all-caps as well.

      1. What argument? It’s a question.

        What grammar errors?


        1. If I could have typed faster, my post would have been right below crazy train (aka: thedfyent1). Instead it looks like I’m insulting you…which I’m certainly not.

          1. LOL, okay.


            I was really confused.
            I prefer “reply to this”.

          2. Don’t lie – after that snarky reply, you’re thinking about it.

        2. I will clarify one thing…I understand what those words used in that sequence mean. What I don’t understand is what the author intends them to mean, either to himself or to the reader.

          Demagogue: “A lot of people have said a lot of things.”

          Mob [outraged]: “Hey, he’s right! A lot of people have said a lot of things!”

          [Mob storms building.]

          End Act II.

          Or should I read it as: “A lot of people have said a lot of things and now we demand that more people say more things?”

          Even if that’s the case, what does he want said?

          Nor does he explain what giving money to a website has to do with those people saying those things. Does it counter it, or fuel it, or what?

          If I wanted to give an argument, I’d say that with a case this high-profile, he’ll have no problem getting a lawyer. Even if it’s a public defender, it will be one who wants to run for office or get a promotion. His defense will be vigorous.

          But I’m not arguing. Give that website money or not. Whatever. I just don’t understand the rhetoric of that one statement.

  18. “Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition.”

    Shouldn’t we? You shouldn’t circumvent the process (and go straight to “guilty”) based on it…but crime and punishment have ALWAYS been based on what the public wants.

    [Drug sentencing aside.]

  19. You have GOT to be kidding me. All this just to shut the black community up? Gimme a break, unless its an ALL BLACK jury, he will NEVER be found guilty. SOmeone in the State Attorneys office is smoking some serious crack!

    1. I’d say it’s better to try him using the judicial process and letting him go free than just having some public servant decide “He’s not guilty, let him go. Oh, also…don’t investigate anything, either.”

      I’m not saying the OJ result was great, but it was better than the LAPD saying “Nevermind, just release him.”

    2. I know, right?

      Anon-bot FTW!

    3. That is how you spoof anon bot.


  20. How, on God’s green, could there not be reasonable doubt about this case? And yet, I feel confident that the self righteous hysteria of the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and Oprah and the mob they are certainly intent on stirring up will ensure that there will be a conviction, regardless of any evidence.

    1. If I were the prosecutor in this case I would ask prospective jurors one question. Are you a regular viewer of the TV series “Law and Order” and it’s off-shoots? “Yes”, you stay, “No”, you don’t. And I would pick white people from that pool.

      1. You don’t get to “pick” people to be on a jury. You only get to strike people from the pool. And neither the defense nor the prosecution can strike people on the basis of their race, even when making their preemptory strikes.

        1. Having witnessed juries being selected for two homicide trials in Baltimore (both times as a prospective juror), I can attest to the fact that your statement is completely naive.

  21. For everyone in the previous thread talking about riots… the riots occur after Zimmerman is acquitted…

  22. Did anybody know this movie was being made?

    I’m not sure whether I should be thrilled or annoyed.

    1. I heard about it about a year ago when Easy-E’s Daughter wanted to play E in the movie. Then totally forgot about it until now.

    2. They already made this movie.

      1. That movie was awesome. I hope it’s on Netflix because I’ve got a hankering to watch it right now.

  23. Murder two is probably indefensible.

    That said, from FL’s perspective, it’s a win-win. If he’s convicted, it’s good. If he loses, oops, we tried for too much.

  24. Sullum, you are wrong about SYG being inapplicable. Read 776.041, exception 2a. My guess is that Zimmerman’s defense will hinge on that exception.

    “776.041?Use of force by aggressor. ?The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

    (1)?Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

    (2)?Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

    (a)?Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
    (b)?In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force. “

    1. a forcible felony

      Jumpin’ Jesus on a cracker. The people of Florida pay politicians, who are, by and large, lawyers, to write laws. You’d think these lawyers would have the common fucking decadency to give the tax-payers a reach-around and snip that redundancy in the bud.

      1. Grand larceny is generally a felony and generally not forcible.

        1. OK, so some crimes, based on fraud, are classified as felonies, even though there’s no physical force directly involved. I am not a lawyer. I’ll settle down now.

          Even so, I have to wonder a bit about this distinction, as a lay person. If I sign a contract that’s not in my best interest because Guido says it’s offer I cannot refuse, there’s a threat of violence behind that. A felony. But if I sign a contract that’s not in my best interest because it has obtuse fine print, I would expect/hope that there’s a civil remedy for that.

      2. There are a hell of a lot of white-collar felonies, particularly under federal law. Ask Martha Stewart.

        1. Ask her (Martha Stewart) about what?

          She was convicted of lying to federal investigators. For shame, for shame.

      3. Yeah, it’s not clear to me what “forcible felony” means, but I presume it is defined somewhere?

    2. If Zimmerman was the aggressor, wouldn’t that mean that Martin was perfectly within his rights under SYG?

      1. Martin had the opportunity to retreat when Zimmerman shadowed him. In fact, he was home free when Zimmerman lost sight of him and went back to his car to contact the police. Evidence suggest that Martin’s assault was RETALIATION, not self defense.

        Insensitive as it might sound, Martin probably died because he treated the situation like a confrontation at his school. He felt “disrespected” that some random punk got in his business, or showed him up in front of his girlfriend. Or whatever. So he decided to jump Zimmerman like he would a freshman who talked trash about him in second period.

      2. The way I read SYG, yes. If Trayvon had succeeded in beating Zimmer to death he would have had a pretty good SYG defense. He failed, Zimmer prevailed, and now Zimmer has a pretty good SYG defense.

  25. Maybe the charge is murder 2, but the jury will have leeway to convict on the lesser charge of man slaughter?

    Unless there is evidence we don’t know about, I can’t imagine a conviction in this case. Hung jury, maybe.

  26. Charge more than there is evidence to convict.
    Set up a situation where the accused must choose between accepting a plea, or going into a court room with a judge who will instruct the rigged jury to convict on something in between the charge and the plea.

    Standard Operating Procedure

    No matter what the dude is fucked.
    He has been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in the court of public opinion.

    I bet twenty bucks he won’t see his thirtieth birthday.

    1. The high-profile situation in Zimmerman’s case works to his advantage. Zimmerman can get a competent lime-light seeking lawyer to defend him at a discount. In a more pedestrian case a defendant has to chose between taking some jail time on a plea bargain or spending and borrowing his family’s income for next 20 years on the chance a jury will acquit him.

      1. Zimmerman can get a competent lime-light seeking lawyer to defend him at a discount.

        Good point.
        Still, I don’t think he’ll live to thirty.
        If he was black he might, but he’s not.
        Whoever kills him will probably be treated easier by the media than him.

        1. Aside from the likes of Charles Manson, the door is closed when someone goes to prison. I wonder what’s going to happen to that paki kid from jersey. His name is not Tyler Clemeti and a few years from now, no one will look it up.

      2. Under Florida’s SYG law, the state will be on the hook to pay Zimmer’s attorney fees, lost wages, court costs, etc. if Zimmer is not convicted:

        “(3)?The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).”

        1. any civil action CA has that rule too. What it does is bring black-and-white cases to the negotiating table so all attorneys involved get their bills payed.

          1. You are right. Long day, I am tired.

  27. That’s what a “white Hispanic” looks like? I guess it was the Jewish name.

  28. This is fucking Casey Anthony all over again. Prosecutors overcharge the defendant and hope their case can be carried by the court of public opinion, even though jurors are supposed to come in with no bias and supposedly no knowledge of the case. Why is it that central Florida has to attract all of the national attention for the most mundane stories??

    Mom chloroforms baby, who then probably dies. Story at 11!
    White-looking Hispanic kills black kid. Live report at 5!
    Teacher has sex with student. Story every other hour!

    1. Why is it that central Florida has to attract all of the national attention for the most mundane stories??

      The media never forgave FL for that little Bush/Gore thing.

      1. I think it’s Miami Vice that was the unforgivable sin

  29. At one point during the news conference, Corey recounted her first meeting with Trayvon’s parents. She said her prosecution team and an attorney for Trayvon’s parents also attended.

    “We opened our meeting in prayer,” Corey said.

    She said she didn’t promise Trayvon’s parents anything.

    So what?

    1. This is starting to remind me of that dispshit mayor of Oakland and the Occupods.

  30. A blogger somewhere else (I forget where) said, “Well, if they’re charging him now, they must have found some more evidence that we don’t know about. That’s how the justice system works.”


    1. “Prosecutors aren’t saying exactly what led to the charges against Zimmerman now two months later.”

      Uhhh, isn’t it obvious?

  31. What a joke. He was charged just to shut the black community up. Unless his jury is ALL BLACK he will be found not guilty.

  32. Sullum, shame on you for continuing to run a picture of Zimmerman in prison orange. There are current pictures available all over the web, use one! This has gotten to the propaganda point.

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