Trayvon Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, talk to TODAY's Ann Curry about the arrest of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot their 17-year-old son. During the interview, Martin's mom says she believes her son's death "was an accident."
Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET: Trayvon Martin's mother retracted her comments that she believes her son's fatal shooting by George Zimmerman was an accident, telling MSNBC-TV on Thursday afternoon that she actually believes "George Zimmerman stalked my son and murdered him in cold blood."
In an interview Thursday morning on NBC's TODAY show, Sybrina Fulton had said: "I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn't turn the clock back."
After Fulton's remarks drew widespread media attention, Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the Martin family, emailed a statement to MSNBC TV saying her comments had been "mischaracterized."
"When I referenced the word 'accident' today with regard to Trayvon's death, in NO way did I mean the shooting was an accident," Fulton said.
"My son was profiled, followed and murdered by George Zimmerman, and there was nothing accidental about that," she said, clarifying that the "accident" was that Martin and Zimmerman ever crossed paths.
Here's the full statement:
Earlier today, I made a comment to the media that was later mischaracterized. When I referenced the word 'accident' today with regard to Trayvon's death, in NO way did I mean the shooting was an accident.
We believe that George Zimmerman stalked my son and murdered him in cold blood. The 'accident' I was referring to was the fact that George Zimmerman and my son ever crossed paths. It was an accidental encounter. If George Zimmerman hadn't gotten out of his vehicle, this entire incident would have been avoided.
My son was profiled, followed and murdered by George Zimmerman, and there was nothing accidental about that.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey announced Wednesday at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla., that Zimmerman would be charged with second-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The announcement came 44 days after Martin was killed.
"We did not come to this decision lightly," said Corey, who was appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to re-examine the case after public outcry over the initial decision not to arrest Zimmerman. “We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition.”
Zimmerman, 28, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, shot and killed Martin, 17, who was black, in the town of Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. The shooting sparked a nationwide debate about race, crime and the right to self-defense.
Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara, who took the case late Wednesday after Zimmerman's previous attorneys withdrew, said his client would plead not guilty and would seek to be released on bond. Zimmerman was scheduled for an initial hearing Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET, after spending the night in jail.
"He's very stressed, very tired,’" O'Mara told TODAY on Thursday. "It's been a difficult several weeks for him. He wants to be out to help with his defense, but he's doing OK."
O'Mara added: "He is concerned about getting a fair trial and a fair presentation. He is a client who has a lot of hatred focused on him. I’m hoping the hatred settles down. He has the right to his own safety and the case being tried before a judge and jury."
O'Mara said he was surprised the prosecutor brought a second degree-murder charge — the most serious charge possible under the circumstances — against his client.
"Again, I've only seen the evidence that has been presented through the media. But I was surprised that they charged him at that level," he said.
Prosecutors will have to prove that the shooting was rooted in hatred or ill will and counter Zimmerman's claims that he shot Martin to protect himself while patrolling his gated community.
Zimmerman's first line of defense could be to invoke Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law — arguing that Zimmerman felt fear for his life and had every right to defend himself — to try to have the charge dismissed by a judge without a trial.
Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump told TODAY that evidence uncovered to date suggests Zimmerman pursued Martin. "We have always believed that for whatever reason he confronted Trayvon Martin when he had been told not to, and for those reasons Trayvon was killed when he was simply trying to get home to watch the basketball game."
In her TODAY interview, Martin's mother suggested Zimmerman should apologize if he is remorseful.
"One of the things that I still believe in: A person should apologize when they really — when they are actually remorseful for what they've done," Fulton said.
And she expressed sympathy for Zimmerman's family, even as she continued to mourn the loss of her son.
"I understand his family is hurting, but think about our family that lost our teenage son. I mean, it's just very difficult to live with day in and day out," Fulton said. "I'm sure his parents can pick up the phone and call him, but we can't pick up the phone and call Trayvon anymore."
Mark O'Mara, the new attorney for George Zimmerman, tells TODAY's Carl Quintanilla he was surprised his client was charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Naomi Karam of NBC News contributed to this report by M.Alex Johnson and Ian Johnston of msnbc.com.
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