(NEW YORK) — The parents of Trayvon Martin felt “shock” and “disgust” when a Florida jury ruled Saturday night that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of their son.
“I really didn’t believe that he was not guilty,” Sybrina Fulton said Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America. “My first thought was shock, disgust.”
Zimmerman, 29, had been accused of second-degree murder for shooting Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. He said from the beginning that he had shot Martin in self-defense, but many questioned his account of the incident.
“I think people are forgetting that Trayvon was a teenager so he probably thought as a teenager,” Fulton said. “I really do believe he was afraid because he did call George Zimmerman creepy. So he was afraid and if you are 17 years old and you are afraid you may not know what to do.”
The verdict from the all-female jury of six was met with a wave of public outcry, including protest marches across the country.
“As parents understanding how they reached the verdict, I’ll never grasp that concept,” said Martin’s father, Tracy Martin. “Just as loving parents and God-fearing people we just continue to pray that whatever was in their heart was what they intended to do but we didn’t feel it was fair and of course it was devastating.”
The outcry intensified when, two days after the verdict was rendered, a literary agent announced it was working with one of the jurors — identified only as juror B-37 — on a book about her experiences on the jury. The plans for the book were scrapped later that day.
Trayvon’s parents said Thursday on GMA that they wish the members of the jury had gotten a chance to know more about their son during the trial.
“I wish they really knew Trayvon for who he was and knew that he was a kid,” said Tracy. “They didn’t know him as a human being, a very decent human being, a fun-loving kid. He loved kids. I just wish they had an opportunity to really know who Trayvon was and to put that in context with what their decision was.”
Zimmerman has gone into hiding following the verdict, but in an interview with ABC News, his parents, Gladys and Robert Zimmerman Sr., said that if they had the chance, they would tell Trayvon’s parents that they are very sorry about what happened the night George fatally shot Trayvon.
When asked about the Zimmermans’ apology, Tracy called it a “hard and fair question.”
“There’s no winner in this situation,” he said. “Obviously we are devastated more. I just think that all the circumstances surrounding books being written and the mischaracterization of us as parents, I just really don’t feel that it’s real sincere but we continue to pray that we’ll find peace and strength to be forgiving parents.”
Tracy and Fulton have started a foundation named after their son and say they hope his death and the trial can serve as a way to bring the country together.
“I think moving forward we need to educate ourselves as a community on the gun laws, on the laws, on the statutes,” Tracy said. “We need to come together more as a whole, not individual people, not individual races, religions. We need come together as God’s people.”
“We need to start learning each other, understanding each other. You can’t just judge a book by its cover,” he said. “Something is wrong in so many ways to say that someone is suspicious just because you don’t know them.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Doug Criss, CNN