George Zimmerman (Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) - In his first public interview since the February killing of Trayvon Martin, accused killer George Zimmerman today apologized to the teen's parents and said he is "sorry they buried their child.'
Zimmerman spoke on television for the first time Wedneday night to Fox News' Sean Hannity.
"I'm sorry they buried their child," Zimmerman said. "I can't imagine what it must feel like. And I pray for them daily."
"I do wish there was something, anything I could have done that wouldn't have put me in a position where I had to take his life," Zimmerman said in wrapping up the interview. "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 am sorry this happened. I hate to think tht because of this incident, because of my actions, it has polarized and divided America. And I am truly sorry."
Zimmerman lawyer Mark O'Mara said Florida's stand-your-ground law should protect Zimmerman. But O'Mara cut Zimmerman off when Hannity asked Zimmerman about allegations that Zimmermand and his wife lied about their finances to get a lower bail. O'Mara said Zimmerman should not discuss it since his wife faces charges related to the bail situation, and Zimmerman himself could also face charges.
Since the case became national news, Zimmerman said he has had multiple death threats and believes his life is in jeopardy. He said he believes he is entitled to an apology from the Rev. Al Sharpton, film producer Spike Lee and others who rushed to judgment and stirred up public sentiment against him.
He said he thinks about the second-degree murder charge, and the possible life sentence, every day. "I am confident in the system. I really have no choice but to believe in the system," he said.
He said after he shot Trayvon, he was worried that he might be shot by police when they arrived on the scene. He never noticed the seriousness of Trayvon's injuries, he said. Only much later was he told Trayvon was dead.
"I am not a racist and I am not a murderer," Zimmerman said. He said he wasn't at first sure that he shot Trayvon. He said Trayvon was on top of him and got off and said "you got me." Zimmerman still didn't realize he had shot him, thinking Trayvon meant that Zimmerman had the edge because he had a gun.
Zimmerman said he reached for the gun after Trayvon told him "you are going to die tonight."
He said he stopped following Trayvon that night when the 911 dispatcher told him he did not need to do so. He said he lost sight of Trayvon for about 30 seconds, then turned around and saw Trayvon.
"He asked me what my problem was," Zimmerman said. He said he reached for his phone but Trayvon punched him in the nose. He said he fell to the ground and Trayvon began "bashing my head into the concrete sidewalk." He said he yelled for help as Trayvon punched him in the head "more than a dozen" times.
He said he thought he might die.
Zimmerman said that before shooting Trayvon he carried his gun at all times except when he was at work. He says he was heading to Target when he saw Trayvon walking in the rain. He said he called 911 when he saw Trayvon darting on and off the sidewalk and looked "suspicious."
He said Trayvon appeared to be eyeing him, but that he was not afraid initially.