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April 19th, 2012
10:21 PM ET

'Overcharging' George Zimmerman?

Without a grand jury, Florida state prosecutor Angela Corey determined the second-degree murder charge for Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman. Some believe this is another instance of Corey zealously overcharging as she has done in the past .

CNN's Gary Tuchman looks at another controversial case involving Corey and charges she issued against a 12-year-old boy. Cristian Fernandez is being tried as an adult on a first-degree murder charge for the death of his 2-year-old brother. He's the youngest person in Florida to be charged as an adult for murder.

When first imprisoned, he was placed in solitary confinement in an adult jail before a judge agreed to move him to a juvenile facility. If convicted, he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

When asked about the decision, Corey said, "We want the public to understand at this point we have no choice" She also believes it's necessary to be tough to prevent a future murder. Others disagree, like the man who held Corey's title before her and used to be her boss. "I clearly think the decision was a travesty," said Harry Shorstein.

Fernandez's mother is also implicated in the crime; she pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter. The 12-year-old's traumatic family life includes an abusive stepfather who committed suicide. Watch Gary Tuchman's report for more on the circumstances of the case, and why Corey would like to reach a plea bargain.

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Filed under: Trayvon Martin
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. frank

    Why is this 12 year old kid not getting help from mental Doctors. Is it because people are to busy trying to look good in front of the media!? Not to mention thier ego to make a name for themselves! Shame on the world!! Poor kid! Get him help!

    April 23, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  2. Eric V

    DA would sell her soul for fame and power. A little boy's life is a bargain to her.

    April 22, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  3. M Kelly

    It seems unbelievable that more than one attorney has come on CNN and expressed that a person who is known to have followed an unarmed person carrying a nine milimeter gun and ended up shooting the person in the chest and killing them is somehow overcharged with a second degree murder charge. Not to mention he was told by police not to follow the now dead victim. They seem to suggest if Trayvon Martin tried to defend himself from the armed stranger following him that this will mean the shooting was somehow legitimate and not a serious crime. If this is true what kind of justice is this.

    The law that allows a twelve year old to be tried as an adult is beyond inhumane, but insane. Everyone under 18 should be tried as a juvenile because they are not adults legally or developmentally. All other industrialized nations know this and respect these facts.Why doesnt the U.S. ? Let me guess could it be racial biases?

    April 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  4. Ro

    The incident is sad but she is definitely overcharging him. The more appropriate charge IF ANY would be manslaughter. His head wounds are obvious. He did not use racial slurs. He might be a security zealot but that does not make him a bigot or murderer. His choice to follow Trayvon was not illegal. Once the physical altercation started he does have a right to defend himself. Even if they find that he attempted to detain Trayvon (But I doubt it), Second Degree Murder will be damn near impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. She screwed up in a big way!

    April 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  5. Jenn

    He should be charged with voluntary manslaughter, because he could get a jury like Casey Anthony who can't call it on the evidence. I think he murdered Trayvon out of his stupidity and racial profiling, but it was a reckless shooting that he chose to be involved in leading to the confrontation. If not for Zimmerman unjustly suspecting Trayvon, unjustly questioning Trayvon, and unjustly confronting him, this wouldn't be an issue. Zimmerman was a criminal justice student in his third year,he should have known better.

    April 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  6. Sarah

    I have been thinking about this and just want to mention it. I remember hearing, I guess it was on the 17 year old's call to his girlfriend, him saying in an aggressive voice, "Are you following me; are you following me?" I wonder if this young man had turned and said to Zimmerman, his elder, "Sir, may I help you?", would this thing have turned out differently.

    April 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  7. jim

    you are allowed to carry a gun in Florida so stop convicting someone because you can't conceive carrying a gun...it's totally legal.....I believe the prosecutor knows Zimmerman is going to walk but knows there would have been civil unrest if she didn't press charges...she neatly postponed any unrest until after the election...thus this stops the potential for Obama's rallying of the black voter base....ingenious politics by the Republicans....

    April 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  8. Candace Kane

    Are we forgetting that already. Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin . Zimmerman should not be allowed to just walked away .

    April 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  9. Jim

    The only reason a prosecutory would ask for a preliminary hearing in a jurisdiciton that allows indictment by grand jury would be to get more publicity. If you don't think prosecutors over charge regularly, you're nutz. Being "tough on crime" is good for their career. And, a case with as much attention as this... well, it's a ticket to being elected Florida's Attorney General.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  10. mark scott

    Soooo long to indict. Why? Maybe because the evidence is mostly for self defense? If convicted will this just be another mob lynching like the 60s?

    April 22, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  11. mike

    Gary Tuchman, why didn't you write an article on John McNeil (Black man) who shot Brian Epp (White man) who was attacking McNeil and his son with a knife? This happened in Georgia, which also had a Stand Your Ground law. McNeil, fired a warning shot, had called 911, and there were witnesses. Yet, McNeil was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. It's not too late to show moral indignation for judicial inequality.

    April 22, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  12. grego b

    I think its an overzealous charge and will be aquited. But we have not heard all the evidence just medieval hype.
    And the NBP and that donated to an arrest warrant should be charged with conspiracy to incite violence.

    April 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  13. 111Dave111

    "Zimmerman being 'overcharged'?" or "'Overcharging' George Zimmerman?" No
    If they can't convict on 2nd degree murder, it will be the Sanford Police who are guilty, and
    It won't make Zimmerman innocent.

    April 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  14. Wodley

    An Exercise in Zimmerman's Logic:

    (1) "I did not know how old he was, I thought he was a little bit younger than I am":

    Interpretation
    -------
    -If I knew he was a teenager, I wouldn't have followed him nor confronted him, because burglaries are not committed by teenagers but by mature people!

    -If I knew he was a teenager, I wouldn't have killed him even if my life was in imminent danger!

    (2) "I did not know if he was armed or not":

    Interpretation
    -------
    -If I knew he was not armed, I wouldn't have killed him even if my life was in imminent danger!

    April 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  15. Chuck

    Corey, the city and the gov. are playing this beautifully, because they were given no choice by the belly-aching, riotous black community. They purposely are seeking a conviction on a charge that they know they will never make stick. That way, they appeas the Al Sharptons of the world and let a man go, who did kill someone, but obviously did'nt committ a crime nder Florida law. Brilliant!!

    April 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  16. Nick Moorhatch

    This is a case of Murder at the hands of the neighborhood watchdog, he will get convicted because the evidence shows he didn't have to follow and shoot. Remember God is watching. There is no self defense for this dog, he should get the death penalty. To say to his parents, I'm sorry for your loss, this is the writing on the wall.

    April 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  17. TJeff1776

    Robinette is sure wrong on that one. Been a cop for 32 yrs and any watchman going into a rainy DARK buglarized neighborhood and not armed would need her/his head examined. Can't think of any better way to commit suicide.

    April 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  18. Lonnie Malcomb

    Zimmerman has been tried, convicted, and sentenced already in public opinion by a multitude of people who know virtually "nothing" about the facts. A lot of 17 year olds are big, and capable of beating someone to death if they choose. All we are seeing in the media is a picture of what appears to be a little boy. Is that what he looked like the night he got shot. Things are not always what they appear to be. And I got some good news. There is a God who knows it all. And we are all going to be tried in His court one day. And we shall all get justice. Bank on it.

    April 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  19. Jennefer

    @Carlos the legal age to drink is 21, but i agreed in this case the child was a product of his enviroment he was beaten so he did the same to his brother but it was his mothers neglect on both her children ending up in their situation> I dont agree he should not be treated as an adult. Now with that being said on other cases some teenagers should be treated as adults depending on a psychological evaluation on the case situation so it should be case by case, but with this case from the information given its too much.

    April 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  20. kim

    He did not mean to kill this kid, sometimes things just go wrong. I think he will walk.

    April 21, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  21. John Doe

    The reason that the child is coming up is because this prosecutor has a history of throwing down harsh convictions for debatable reasons. I know, and have discussed with, a few law students and they feel that he should be getting a manslaughter charge. The evidence doesn't support a murder charge and because of that there's a good chance he'll get off on that charge. But he DID create the situation and carried a gun he shouldn't have been, so a manslaughter charge can fit. She's being overly harsh and as a result may get him acquitted which will cause MAJOR backlash.

    April 21, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  22. Justice for Trayvon Martin Hopefully One Day...

    I truly beleive the prosecutor overcharged zimmerman on purpose to pacify the masses, to give the appearance that she supports zimmerman being convicted/charged knowing she won't get a conviction and he'll walk free, she could have charged him with manslaughter or a lesser charge which would ensure that she would get a conviction, but by charging him with second degree murder, she and her office can say well we charged him with the maximum charged that we could and we just have to let the justice system take its course knowing full well that the would never happen otherwise zimmerman would have been charged initially when it happened.

    April 21, 2012 at 4:47 am |
  23. jon deluna

    It seems to me that Trayvon Martin stood his ground after being pursued by Mr. zimmerman (a man he did not know) and protected himself. Mr. Zimmerman cannot claim self-defense as he instigated the confrontation by his pursuit of Trayvon.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  24. Robinette

    Even if George Zimmerman had injuries, does not mean that he was not the agressor. Trayvon can't speak for himself, Zimmerman made sure of that. Didn't Trayvon had the right to defend himself? Also as far as race is concerned, that should not matter, and not be the issue. The facts are that someone is dead and the person who killed him is pleading self-defense who should not have been carrying a gun in the first place.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Matt

      Robinette....Please explain to me why Zimmerman "should not have been carrying a gun in the first place"? Last time I checked he cleared a federal background check and met all the requirements to carry a concealed weapon. Your ignorance disgusts me, Zimmerman was simply exercising his 2nd Amendment right by owning and carrying a firearm.... just as you are exercising your 1st Amendment Right when you go on cnn.com and write ignorant statements like the one above.

      April 21, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • joe

      robinette: were you there?

      April 21, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Mark

      @ Robinette- He had a license from the State of FL to carry the firearm. He was also walking BACK to his car when he was confronted by Trayvon. He sustained documented injuries to his the back of his head, his nose, etc. I have not heard any evidence that Trayvon sustained inuries other than the gunshot wound. True, Trayvon can not speak for himself, however physical evidence is starting to mount that corroborates Zimmerman's version of events.

      April 21, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Clint

      If following a suspicious person in your neighborhood, losing sight of them and giving up, then getting confronted by them and getting the crap beat out of you by them.....makes you the agressor....there is something seriously wrong with this country.

      April 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Tim

      Sorry folks, stating that just because Zimmermans story checks out does not mean he did not commit a crime, forgets that someone must be PROVEN guilty. He does not NEED TO PROVE he is innocent.

      April 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • anton

      why would you state that zimmerman should not be carrying a gun. bearing arms is a right protected by the constatution. I think this was a a misunderstanding. I belive Travon thought zimmerman was up to no good and zimmerman thought the same. I will have to wate till all the evidence is out before I can make a judgement.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • 1Todd1

      Even if George's injuries turn out to not be defensive wounds and Trayvon turns out to somehow actually have defensive wounds, that doesn't mean he's guilty of Murder 2. Manslaughter is the right charge. Zimmerman is overcharged.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • John S. D.

      Agreed. If he wasn't supposed to have a gun normally, it means he was looking for a fight. If anything he should not have a loaded gun. I want to know if he was carrying a taser and pepper spray. those are the first items he should have before a gun, not have a gun and none of those other items. He is either overly cautious and the death was an accident or he murdered the kid. due to the media and what I hear he has done he is a murderer. If he was carrying a stun gun and pepper spray and claimed he reached for the wrong tool and said it was an and in self defense accident and he cried a little I would only slap 2-5 years sentence with parole for manslaughter. It is really hard to say he could be not guilty and everything in my gut and logic says he has to may with at least a couple years in prison

      April 22, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • Perkinjd

      Robinette- you state he should not have been carrying a gun. Why not, it is a constitutional right? I'm not taking sides because as everyone knows the facts are not all on the table as we see every week as something new comes out. The jury will have to decide who to believe. If they believe Zimmerman then he is not Guilty but even if they don't he may still be found not guilty if they believe he could be telling the truth. It’s a tragedy either way for Travon and his family. The media is constantly pushing the envelope to see which side they can get a rise out of. It is not providing news coverage but opinions and propaganda. Let the facts speak for themselves and if they don't give a conclusive answer then you cannot prosecute but if they do bring on the full wrath of the law and not public opinion.

      April 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Dan

      sounds like you already made up your mind about what happened as if you were there. You are not the judge and you are not the jury. in order for Zimmerman to be convicted they need to prove without reason of a doubt that he commited 2nd degree murder...that is the law and that is how our judicial system works. Zimmerman had every right to carry a gun, he had all the proper permits as required by Florida law. These charges were politically motivated and influenced by the mob/media, they probably would have been better off with manslaughter but no the prosecutors are gonna screw this up.

      April 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Cielo

      The race issue comes at the very beginning, where Zimmerman has zero reason to follow this guy EXCEPT that he's black and wearing a hoodie (in the rain, what a crime!). Unless Martin was actively committing a crime, zimmerman had no reason at all to confront martin, and even then, Neighborhood Watch is supposed to WATCH and CALL, NOT "confront and kill." I DOD believe Zimmerman is going to jail for a LONG time.

      April 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Reynaldo de Asis

      An observation that no mention has been made if the gun Zimmerman was carrying is duly licensed or not.I may have missed it, but this license issue is important in determining if the accused is duly qualified to be a gun owner and carrying the gun outside residence? By what authority?

      April 23, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • franklovesfl

      Trayvon attacked a smaller man because he though Zimmerman was easy prey. Bad decision. Instant consequences.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  25. castronyc

    i am curious of his race. in florida they have zero tolerance for blks and some latinos. zero. 12 doing for ever and life. my son is 12 and he is smart but not diabolical . 12 come on... really. whats next 9, 7 5 years old. they will rape that boy everyday of his life.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  26. de

    the video should be called something like 'fernandez, 12 year old and youngest person that may be tried as an adult in FL.'

    April 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  27. de

    this should video be renamed because people are confused that this is a video re: zimmerman and are not watching.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  28. Sir WafffleBottoms

    In the other case the charges might not be correct. However, in the zimmerman case, it's undercharging.

    April 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Gerald

      You got that right my friend. I could'nt have said it better myself

      April 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Craig

      Since you appear to be an expert on law, specifically Florida criminal law and applicable statutes, can you explain for us the differences between 1st and 2nd degree murder and how one vs. the other would apply in this case?

      Thanks in advance!

      April 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  29. Loki

    Who cares about this nasty kid.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  30. Bubba

    Yeah, it looks like a "Casey Anthony Pardon" coming up. I'm not sure they can prove murder.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  31. Chaz

    It is going to be difficult to prove that is was not an act of self defense, especially given the police reports that indicate Zimmerman was injured from a physical attack when they arrived on the scene.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Cielo

      You cannot claim self defense when YOU are the original aggressor. Zimmerman had profiled Martin on nothing but his looks. What does it mean "suspicious"? Zimmy then followed Martin "just in case" he gets away. But Martin was not committing any crime! So Zimmy CANNOT use self defense when he was the original stalker, armed with a gun in his waistband.

      April 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  32. ScaredAmerican

    Mr. Zimmerman is victim of reverse racism. He was attacked and brutally beat by Martin. Synthetic marijuana can cause psychosis and increase the tendency of violent behavior and Martin was a consumer.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • ron

      its sad that your racism or genetics doesnt allow you to see that trayvon was wronged in the whole sense he was being chased by an unknown person. that we know is fact he lost sight of trayvon and when he saw him again he approached an scared individual who feared for his life now if im scared of an unknown person approaching me im goin to defend myself trayvon was the one in fear of his life wake up out of that program of where because he was black hes wrong im sure theres bigger things working behind this case only time will tell and as far as you being a scared american im so sorry you feel like that especially when you more than likely have all the advantages we still looking for and im not talking about we need an advantage im saying we just need a fair chance....!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 21, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • chris

      Please go look up the definition of "racism" – then tell me how this is somehow "reverse"

      April 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • April

      Scared American you are so confused!!! Zimmerman is a common vigalante with a history of violence, but who never did time due to money and daddy! he broke the law when the police told him not to go after Martin plain and simple!!! Marin can not speak for himself due to Zimmerman!!!

      April 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  33. Realpoet2

    Anderson, it is sad about the 12yr old charged as an Adult, however here is a story that occurred in 1994 with two 12yr olds and two other children under twelve. It happened in College Park, Georgia. A 12yrs stole a vehicle for a gang initiation and a police chase started when the 12yrs got spooked by the police blue lights, he drove the car in excess of 90 mph and lost control. The car flipped over two times throwing the 12yrs on the passenger side out the window and seriously hurting the back passengers who were later found out to be under twelve. The police did not know the driver was only 12 yrs old when the pursuit started, the driver was not hurt, and that's when the police found out his age. Some 12yr old's mature faster. Recently a 12yr old was suspended from school because he had a school friend perform oral sex on him and video taped it with his cellphone what she was doing, it just so happened her father was a police officer OMG. Children are committing criminal acts at the age of 12 and I can not totally blame the parents, and I do not blame the DA for the charges, I blame the Video industry for creating the scenarios that the children watch and want to try. It is sad but a real reality Anderson.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  34. justice4juveniles

    please google cristian fernandez petition and cristian fernandez story to learn more

    April 19, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  35. Carlos A. Figueroa

    Unbelievable!!!! Where is the common sense? It is hard to believe that anyone in that courtroom (including the judge) can believe that a 12 year-old can be charged as an adult! Can anyone look back to when they were 12 and say they were mature enough to be treated as an adult? You can't have it both ways. Either you are an adult at 18 where you can drink, smoke, and fight in a war or you're not. This prosecutor has some serious problems not to see this. Regardless of what this child did, there is no way he can be treated as a grown man.

    April 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Jon

      Not only that, they put a 12 year old kid in solitary confinement!!!!! SC is a clear violation of the 8th amendment PERIOD. Let alone putting a 12 year old boy in there. Unreal the lengths these people will go to under the guise of keeping the public "safe".

      April 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  36. Big Rick

    The police order George Zimmerman to stop! NO lawyer should be able to talk him out of trouble. if George Zimmerman get away with this ' what police say means nothing.

    April 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |