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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project