Man who shot Trayvon tells his family: I'm sorry

I thought he was armed, says defendant as a judge agrees to free him on $150,000 bail

Polite, apologetic, and with his hands chained firmly to his waist, George Zimmerman has publicly said “sorry” to the parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager he shot and killed almost two months ago.

In a surprise appearance on the stand in Sanford, Florida, this morning, the defendant in what promises to be a highly-divisive murder trial said that he had wrongly believed that his 17-year-old victim was armed, when he decided to pull the trigger.

Zimmerman’s comments came shortly before a judge agreed to free him on $150,000 bail. He will be required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and remain indoors after dark. For his own safety, he may also be allowed to live at a secret location outside the State.

“I wanted to say that I am sorry for the loss of your son,” said 28-year-old Martin. “I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am, and I thought that he was armed.”

His speech came towards the end of an unexpectedly lively two-hour hearing, in which the defence and prosecution sparred over some, but not all, of the claims and counter-claims that lie at the centre of the racially-charged case.

For one of the first times since Zimmerman became a national talking-point in the wake Martin's killing, on February 26th, the public heard from family members who helped to humanise him. His wife, Shellie, father, Robert, and mother, Gladys, testified via telephone.

They claimed that he was “absolutely not” violent or racist, and told how he had volunteered as a mentor for disadvantaged black youths. They also recalled that, on the day after Martin’s death, he had a swollen face, protective cover over his nose, and two large gashes on the back of his head.

Evidence of injuries may support Zimmerman’s claim that he shot Martin in self-defence after being violently attacked. Yesterday, ABC news obtained photographs which appear to show that he was indeed bleeding from the back of his skull following the incident.

The Defence did not have things all its own way, though. Zimmerman’s family members faced awkward questions about his arrest in 2005, for attacking a plain-clothes police officer in a local bar, following which he was forced to attend a series of anger-management classes.

Prosecutors later inquired about injunctions filed against him by a former fiancée, which they say further indicates a pattern of aggressive behaviour by Zimmerman, who wore a dark suit, white shirt, and grey tie during the televised hearing.

Dale Gilbreath, one of the investigators who filed Second Degree murder charges against Zimmerman revealed several new details about Martin’s death – among them the fact that the teenager was shot from close range, and had muzzle burns on his body. Zimmerman’s statements to police officers in the days after the killing appeared to vary significantly, he claimed, and contradicted physical evidence at the scene.

Zimmerman, who has spent a week behind bars, is expected to be freed over the weekend. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Maritn’s parents, said they were “devastated” by the bail, adding: “he got to give a self-serving apology to help him get a bond. They were very outraged at that.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory