The death of Trayvon Martin was all part of “God’s Plan,” according to the man charged with his murder, who still has “no regrets” over his actions on the night he shot and killed the unarmed teenager.
George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood vigilante at the centre the high-profile case, used his first public interview to say that he is nonetheless “sorry” that events conspired to: “put me in the position where I had to take his life.”
Speaking with Fox News on Wednesday, he portrayed the death of the 17-year-old student, which sparked international outrage, as the result of a tragic misunderstanding. “I am not a racist and I am not a murderer,” he insisted.
In a half-hour interview, conducted in the presence of his lawyer, Zimmerman recalled the night of February 26th, when he spotted Martin walking through a rainstorm to his father’s home in Sanford, Florida.
The 28-year-old neighbourhood watch volunteer, who said he rarely left home without a gun, was driving home from a grocery shop when he spotted the youth “walking very leisurely, for the weather,” and decided to call the police.
On a tape-recording of that call, Zimmerman could be heard exiting his car and telling the dispatcher that he was following the black teenager because he reckoned he was acting “real suspicious.”
However he now denies ever following Martin. “I didn't mean that I was actually pursuing him,” he said. “I meant that I was going in the same direction as him, to keep an eye on him so that I could tell the police where he was going.”
Zimmerman said that he was then attacked. In the ensuing struggle, his nose was broken and his head was smashed against the pavement. In fear of his life, he shot Martin once, in the chest.
The interview, from a secret address where Zimmerman is living on $1m bail, having been charged with Second Degree Murder, provide the clearest indication that his defence will revolve around Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, which allows victims of crime to use lethal force to defend themselves.
His willingness to speak publicly also suggests he may give evidence the trial, scheduled for next year – even if that will expose him to more hostile cross examination than his interviewer Sean Hannity, a conservative Fox pundit, saw fit to provide.
Asked what he would like to say to his victim’s parents, Zimmerman added: “I am sorry that they buried their child. I can't imagine what it must feel like, and I pray for them daily.” The apology was swiftly rejected by Martin's mother, who branded it “ridiculous.”