MIRAMAR, Fla. (AP) — The parents of the unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer rejected the shooter’s claim that the death was a part of God’s plan.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity televised Wednesday, George Zimmerman said he felt the course of the night 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed “was all God’s plan.”
“We must worship a different God,” Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, told The Associated Press. “There is no way that my God wanted George Zimmerman to murder my teenage son.”
Speaking Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, the teen’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said the notion was “ridiculous.”
In the Fox News interview, Zimmerman also said he’d like to talk with Trayvon Martin’s parents about what happened.
“Absolutely not,” Fulton said when asked on NBC if she’d be willing to meet with Zimmerman.
The Fox News interview was Zimmerman’s first lengthy television interview and was conducted at an undisclosed location in Seminole County, Fla., where Zimmerman must remain under conditions of his release on bail.
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, about 20 miles north of Orlando. Martin is black and Zimmerman has a white father and Hispanic mother. The shooting prompted nationwide protests after Zimmerman was not arrested for weeks after the shooting.
Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him and has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Zimmerman is free on $1 million bail.
In his interview, Zimmerman said he would like to tell Martin’s parents he was sorry about the teen’s death.
“I can’t imagine what it must feel like. And I pray for them daily,” Zimmerman said. Later, he added: “I am sorry that this happened.”
But Fulton said it is hard for her to accept his apology because he still says he does not regret anything he did on the night of the shooting.
When asked in the Fox News interview to explain what he meant when he told a police dispatcher he was following Martin, Zimmerman said he was trying to keep an eye on Martin to tell police. He said he was not following Martin but attempting to get a more precise address for the authorities.
Whether Zimmerman was the aggressor plays a major role in his self-defense claim.
“I hadn’t given them a correct address. I was going to give them the actual address,” he said. “I meant that I was going in the same direction as him. I didn’t mean that I was actually pursuing him.”
Zimmerman said shortly after he got out of his car, Martin was right next to him. Zimmerman said he looked down to try to find his cellphone and when he looked up, Martin punched him and broke his nose. Then, he said, Martin straddled him and started slamming his head down.
“He started bashing my head into the concrete sidewalk. I was disoriented,” Zimmerman said, adding that it was at that point he began to fear for his life — another key element in his self-defense claim.
He said as the two were struggling, Martin said “you’re going to die tonight.” Zimmerman said he yelled out multiple times — shouts captured on 911 calls by local residents — in hopes the authorities would locate them.
“I was yelling in hopes that they were in the vicinity and they would come and find me,” he said. “As soon as he broke my nose, I started yelling for help.”
Martin’s parents have said they believe it was their son who was yelling for help.
Zimmerman also said racial profiling had nothing to do with the confrontation.
“I’m not a racist and I’m not a murderer,” he said.