In his first lengthy interview, George Zimmerman said he wanted to apologize to Trayvon Martin's parents for their son's death and insisted he was not in pursuit on the rainy night that he fatally shot the teenager.
When asked Wednesday by Fox News host Sean Hannity what he would tell the teen's parents, he said "I'm sorry," and that he would be open to talking to them about what happened the night of the shooting.
The teenager's father, Tracy Martin, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he rejected a comment Zimmerman made about the events of that night being part of "God's plan."
"We must worship a different God. There is no way that my God wanted George Zimmerman to murder my teenage son," Tracy Martin said.
"I really don't think he's being sincere," Martin's mother said Thursday morning in an interview with FOX and Friends.
Zimmerman also said he didn't regret what happened that night. Later, he clarified, saying he doesn't regret what he did after the shooting – like talking to police, getting an attorney and raising money for a defense fund.
"But I do wish there was something – anything – I could have done that wouldn't have put me in the position where I had to take his life, and I do want to tell everyone – my wife, my family, my parents, my grandmother, the Martins, the city of Sanford and America – that I'm sorry this happened," he said.
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 death of the 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed when he was killed in Sanford, about 20 miles north of Orlando.
Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
When asked to explain what he meant when he told a police dispatcher he was following Martin, the neighborhood watch volunteer 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. He said he wanted to see where the teen went so he could tell police where to go.
"I hadn't given them a correct address. I was going to give them the actual address," he said.
Zimmerman said after he got out of his car, Martin was next to him. Zimmerman says he looked down, then looked up and Martin punched him and broke his nose. Then, he said, Martin straddled him and started slamming his head onto a concrete sidewalk.
"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 says as the two were struggling, Martin said "you're going to die tonight."
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.
With public outcry over Martin's death and recent bad publicity, the interview gives Zimmerman a chance to speak without the risk of cross-examination. His attorney, Mark O'Mara, says the main reason he gave the interview was to protect his family.
"I think that's the biggest reason: is to try and secure the next several months what he has to deal with this case and keep his family safe," O'Mara said.
In the interview, Zimmerman also said he often prays for the Martin family.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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