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?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living