Here’s a look at what you need to know about the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman was acquitted of the crime in July 2013.
FACTS: Trayvon Benjamin Martin, born February 5, 1995, was a 17-year-old African American high school student who lived in Miami Gardens, Florida with his mother Sybrina Fulton. In February 2012, Martin was visting his father Tracy Martin in Sanford, Florida after receiving a ten-day suspension from Krop Senior High School. The suspension stemmed from the discovery of drug residue in Martin’s book bag.
George Michael Zimmerman, born October 5, 1983, was a part-time student at Seminole State College and a neighborhood watch captain at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community in Sanford at the time of the shooting. He is married to Shellie (Dean) Zimmerman and is the son of Robert and Gladys Zimmerman.
February 26, 2012 — George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, calls 911 to report “a suspicious person” in the neighborhood. He is instructed not to get out of his SUV or approach the person. Zimmerman disregards the instructions. Moments later, neighbors report hearing gunfire. Zimmerman acknowledges that he shot Martin, claiming it was in self-defense. In a police report, Officer Timothy Smith writes that Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and back of the head.
February 27, 2012 — Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, files a missing persons report. Officers with the Sanford Police Department visit Tracy Martin. He is able to identify Trayvon Martin’s body using a photo.
March 8, 2102 — Investigators receive a fax from the Altamonte Family Practice containing the medical records identifying the injuries sustained by Zimmerman on the night of the shooting: Open wound of scalp, without mention of complication; nasal bones, closed fracture; assault by other specified means.
March 12, 2012 — Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee says that Zimmerman has not been charged because there are no grounds to disprove his story of the events.
March 13, 2012 — Sanford Police Department’s homicide detective Christopher Serino recommends Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. Zimmerman “failed to identify himself” as a concerned citizen or neighborhood watch member on two occasions that night. Serino reports that he thought Zimmerman’s head injuries were “marginally consistent with a life-threatening episode, as described by him, during which neither a deadly weapon nor deadly force were deployed by Trayvon Martin.”
March 14, 2012 — The case is turned over to the Florida State Attorney Norm Wolfinger.
March 15, 2012 — In a letter to the Orlando Sentinel, Robert Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s father, writes that George has been unfairly portrayed as a racist, and that George is Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family.
March 16, 2012 — Authorities release seven 911 calls from the night of the shooting. In one of the 911 recordings, Zimmerman, against the advice of the 911 dispatcher, follows Martin. In one of the recordings, a voice screams “Help, help!” in the background, followed by the sound of a gunshot.
March 19, 2012 — The Justice Department and the FBI announce that they have launched an investigation into Martin’s death.
March 20, 2012 — A lawyer for the Martin family, Benjamin Crump, holds a news conference, telling reporters that Trayvon was on the phone with his 16-year-old girlfriend at the time of the shooting. The girl, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she heard someone ask Martin what he was doing and heard Martin ask why the person was following him, according to Crump. The girl then got the impression that there was an altercation in which the earpiece fell out of Martin’s ear and the connection went dead.
March 22, 2012 — A petition on Change.org calling for the arrest of Zimmerman, created by the parents of Trayvon Martin, surpasses 1.3 million people.
March 22, 2012 — Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee announces he is stepping down “temporarily” as head of the department, which has been criticized for its handling of the fatal shooting.
March 22, 2012 — Florida Gov. Rick Scott announces he is appointing Angela B. Corey of the 4th Judicial Circuit as state attorney in the investigation, replacing Norman Wolfinger, state attorney for Florida’s 18th District, which includes Sanford.
March 23, 2012 — President Barack Obama speaks out publicly for the first time on the growing controversy over the shooting of Trayvon Martin, saying that the incident requires national “soul-searching.”
March 24, 2012 — A handful of members from the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) offer a $10,000 reward for the “capture” of George Zimmerman.
March 26, 2012 — Exactly one month after Trayvon Martin’s death, rallies take place in cities across the country, including Sanford, where the City Commission holds a town hall meeting on the incident and its aftermath. Martin’s parents speak at the meeting.
March 28, 2012 — Zimmerman’s father, Robert, appears on television and says that Martin threatened to kill Zimmerman and then beat him so badly Zimmerman was forced to shoot.
March 29, 2012 — Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., appears on CNN and says medical records will prove that his brother was attacked and his nose was broken by Trayvon Martin before he fatally shot the teen.
April 2, 2012 — FBI agents interview Martin’s girlfriend, the 16-year-old girl who, phone records show, was on the cell phone with him shortly before the fatal confrontation.
April 3, 2012 — Zimmerman’s legal adviser, Craig Sonner, says that criminal defense lawyer Hal Uhrig will represent Zimmerman and that Sonner will serve as co-counsel if the case proceeds.
April 7-8, 2012 — George Zimmerman launches a website warning supporters about groups falsely claiming to be raising funds for his defense. The site includes a link through which donations can be made to pay for Zimmerman’s lawyers and living expenses.
April 9, 2012 — Prosecutor Angela Corey announces that she will not present the case to a grand jury.
April 10, 2012 — Attorneys Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner announce that they have lost contact with Zimmerman and no longer represent him.
April 11, 2012 — Zimmerman is charged with second—degree murder. His new lawyer, Mark O’Mara, tells CNN that Zimmerman has turned himself in.
April 18, 2012 — Seminole Circuit Court Judge Jessica Recksiedler, who was assigned to Zimmerman’s case, approves a motion to disqualify herself from the criminal case because her husband works as a CNN legal analyst.
April 18, 2012 — It is announced that Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. will take over George Zimmerman’s case.
April 20, 2012 — Zimmerman’s bond hearing is held. Judge Lester sets Zimmerman’s bond at $150,000. During the hearing, Zimmerman apologizes to the family of Trayvon Martin for the loss of their son.
April 23, 2012 — Zimmerman is released on bail at 12:05 AM. Later in the day, Zimmerman enters a written not guilty plea and waves his right to appear at his arraignment.
May 8, 2012 — Judge Kenneth Lester accepts Zimmerman’s written plea of not guilty.
May 15, 2012 — A medical report by George Zimmerman’s family doctor, taken a day after the February 26 shooting, shows Zimmerman was diagnosed with a fractured nose, two black eyes and two lacerations on the back of his head.
June 1, 2012 — Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. revokes Zimmerman’s bond and orders him to surrender within 48 hours after the prosecution argues that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, misrepresented their finances when Zimmerman’s bond was originally set in April.
June 3, 2012 — At 1:45 PM, Zimmerman surrenders to authorities and is taken into custody at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Seminole County.
June 12, 2012 — George Zimmerman’s wife Shellie is arrested and charged with perjury.
June 18, 2012 — Audio of six phone calls between Zimmerman and his wife Shellie are released, along with bank statements.
June 20, 2012 — Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee is officially fired.
June 25, 2012 — Zimmerman’s attorney files a motion requesting a “reasonable bond” be set for Zimmerman’s release from jail.
July 5, 2012 — The judge sets Zimmerman’s bond at $1 million.
July 6, 2012 — Zimmerman is released from jail after posting the required 10% of the $1 million bond ($100,000).
July 13, 2012 — Zimmerman’s legal team files a motion requesting Judge Lester step down from the case. The motion claims Zimmerman cannot get a fair trial because Lester used “gratuitous, disparaging” language in the previous week’s bail order.
July 18, 2012 — Zimmerman, appearing on Fox News “Hannity” show, does his first television interview since the shooting. He says he would not do anything differently.
August 9, 2012 — A photo of Trayvon Martin’s body and George Zimmerman’s school records are mistakenly released by prosecutors. Special Prosecutor Angela Corey’s office issues a statement asking reporters to “please disregard and do not use the information contained in the initial e—mail. It was inadvertently attached.”
August 13, 2012 — George Zimmerman appeals Judge Lester’s refusal to recuse himself with the Fifth District Court of Appeals.
August 29, 2012 — A Florida appeals court grants Zimmerman’s request for a new judge, saying Judge Kenneth Lester’s remarks in a bail order put Zimmerman in reasonable fear of a fair trial.
August 30, 2012 — Judge Debra Nelson is assigned to replace Judge Kenneth Lester in the case of George Zimmerman.
December 7, 2012 — Zimmerman sues NBC Universal for allegedly editing the 911 call he placed on the night of the tragic event. He states in the lawsuit that NBC unfairly made it appear that “Zimmerman was a racist, and that he was racially profiling Trayvon Martin.”
February 9, 2013 — The Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation hosts a “Day of Remembrance Community Peace Walk and Forum” in Miami. It takes place four days after what would have been Martin’s 18th birthday.
March 5, 2013 — Lawyer Mark O’Mara decides against seeking a pretrial Stand your Ground immunity hearing for George Zimmerman citing lack of preparation time.
April 5, 2013 — Martin’s parents settle a wrongful — death claim against the homeowners association of the Florida subdivision where their son was killed.
April 30, 2013 — George Zimmerman waives his right to a “stand your ground” pretrial immunity hearing. Zimmerman’s attorneys decide they will instead try this as a self—defense case. If Zimmerman had had a pretrial immunity hearing, a judge would have ruled whether his actions were protected under the “stand your ground” law. If the judge had ruled in favor of Zimmerman, it would have meant that no criminal or civil trial could proceed.
May 28, 2013 — Judge Debra Nelson rules on several motions brought by the defense. Nelson rules that Trayvon Martin’s familiarity with guns, his marijuana use, and fights he may have been in cannot be brought up in Zimmerman’s trial. She also denies a request to take the jury to the crime scene. Nelson, however, rules that jurors will remain anonymous and will be referred to by numbers only.
June 20, 2013 — An all — female jury is selected.
June 24, 2013 — The trial begins with opening statements.
July 13, 2013 — The six person jury finds George Zimmerman not guilty. They had three choices: to find Zimmerman guilty of second — degree murder; to find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter; or to find him not guilty. The jurors deliberated for more than 16 hours total, including 13 on Saturday alone.