OTR Interviews

Zimmerman's brother: George will never be the same, there was a legal victory but no winners

Now that he's been found not guilty in Trayvon Martin's death, what's next for George Zimmerman

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 15, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: No one knows George Zimmerman better than his brother. George's brother, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., joins us. Nice to see you, sir.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: Thanks for having me, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how's your brother tonight?

ZIMMERMAN: His entire life has changed. You know, his -- his life changed the moment those two words were uttered, not guilty, and it changed for him. It changed all of us. You know, we were waiting for that exoneration for a really long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: What if it had been the other way? Were you prepared for that?

ZIMMERMAN: I prepared for that. I talked to my parents about that, about if they had prepared themselves for that. We always had faith in Mr. O'Mara and Mr. West, and we knew the facts of the case. We really didn't need a court to tell us what had happened that night and who was screaming or who had been injured and how. But we definitely prepared for with some of the lesser includeds and some of that last minute maneuvering to try to get child abuse included, that there could be some confusion, but the jury made the right call.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was your brother ready for something, a different verdict of guilty of murder two or manslaughter? And how do you prepare yourself?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't know that he -- Greta, you know, I really -- I can't speak to what he was thinking, you know, because it changes. He was the only one who had to be there every single day. You know, he encountered every jury, every bit of testimony, and we did not because we were excluded from the courtroom. But George is a spiritual person, and I'm sure he made amends with whatever he had to. I know that he feels he is innocent, and he feels -- he felt well represented.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we oftentimes, as lawyers, it's rather clinical -- you know, we work hard during the day. And then at the end of the day, we say good-bye to our client, we go back to our office and work and prepare for the next day. The client goes home and (INAUDIBLE) trials. And it's always -- you know, we never really have time to find out how the client is doing.

I mean, are there re moments of even, you know, great sorrow and nervousness? Did George cry during these times? I mean, was it that kind of thing for him?

ZIMMERMAN: Our parents were in the courtroom for the verdict, and my mom told me that he did get emotional -- he didn't get emotional right when the verdict was announced, but that he did say he wanted to go home -- Mom, I want to go home, and then, you know, started to get very relieved and emotional at that time.

I think that George here, he had a lot of participation in his defense in terms of working with Mr. West and Mr. O'Mara. So they were -- they did -- he did go home at the end of the day, but -- and he had that curfew. But he did have an active hand in trying to prepare or help prepare his attorneys represent him the best they could.

VAN SUSTEREN: What was the first thing he said to you, and what'd you say to him after the verdict?

ZIMMERMAN: I will tell you what I said to him, and I said it in Spanish. I said (INAUDIBLE) which is the last thing I said to him before the first -- before his bond was revoked, which means, God bless you, little brother. And I think that's exactly what he needed to hear. And I think that's exactly what I needed to say.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, you mentioned the Spanish. I mean, there's - - I mean, there's no secret that this has been a -- has a racial overtone. People have been saying things all along. Your brother is Hispanic. What's your thought about it? I mean, because, you know, it's -- everyone -- many people -- not everyone (INAUDIBLE) but pitting this, you know, white against black or black against white, and really sort of the missing element in here it that your family is Hispanic.

ZIMMERMAN: Right. And you know, Greta, it's unfortunate that race has any role in this situation at all. And I even think, you know, the prosecutor in her press conference said race did have no role in this case whatsoever.

But as a family, we were deliberate to keep our heritage and our Hispanic identity off the table because it was becoming white versus black. And we didn't see any good injecting another race into that scenario, or another ethnicity to kind of say, like, you know, If we're Hispanic, then we can't be racist, or you know, only white people would be racist, you know, certainly not Hispanics. So I think that keeping our race out of it was very deliberate and was very wise and it was something my mother, who's Peruvian, insisted upon early and often.

VAN SUSTEREN: It -- you know, these trials are so difficult and people don't -- you know, people just sort of concentrate on their one side, you know, whatever their mission is. You ever think of the Martin family, the Trayvon Martin family?

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely. We expressed our condolences in the statement September of 2012. If I ran into Sybrina or Tracy, I would give them a hug. I would express my condolence -- condolences to them. I -- I'm inclined to believe George would do the same thing.

Now, these kind of -- these things that surround Sybrina and Tracy, Mr. Crump, Ms. Jackson, these people who -- who I think really exploited very pure grief and other, you know, race profiteers like the NAACP, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson -- that's how I see them -- I wouldn't give them a hug.

But Sybrina lost her son and so did Tracy. And you know, now that we have this verdict of not guilty, I think what I always will remember is the rawness of the emotion, the deafening silence when you hear that your brother took someone's life in self-defense. It still hasn't gone away. You know, the tension of having him on trial is gone, and we know what the resolution is and we know that the jury made the right call, but whenever I look at George, I'm always going to see and he's always going to have to live with, just as anyone who had to take someone's life, that they have to carry that burden around for the rest of their life now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, when the shooting occurred back in February of 2012, how did you first hear about it?

ZIMMERMAN: My little sister called. Our dad and our grandmother had just been hospitalized weeks and says before sequentially. And I thought that when she told me that someone had died that it was one of them.

But she told me, No, it's kind of -- it involves George, which was kind of mysterious. I said, What happened, Gracie? And she said, Well, he was involved in an altercation and he used his gun to defend himself. And -- but George is going to call you and fill you in himself. He wants to tell you the truth and every member of his family the truth from his own mouth.

And that's what George did later. He did call and you know, basically explained what we all know to be the truth now.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there are so many murders and shootings and killings and accidents in this country every single day. People always say to me, Why this case? And I never know really the right answer except that, well, we -- you know, I guess we pick and choose for whatever reason because I'm -- you know, there are lots of them out there.

ZIMMERMAN: I -- I...

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your sort of thought about why -- why was there so much focus on this one?

ZIMMERMAN: Because those other cases are not profitable. You know, the race profiteers, they have a business model. They have a script -- the Crumps, Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, Ben Jealouses of the world. And they have to promote racism in order to see that they don't become obsolete.

I mean, this was a profitable event for them, and they spun George's race as a white man, and then later, when he became Hispanic, the media spun his race into a white Hispanic. They used deceptive imagery of him to represent someone that he was not. NBC edited calls to say there's a guy here, he's black, he's suspicious, he looks like he's up to no good...

VAN SUSTEREN: And NBC has fired people who did that, who -- I mean, that was -- I mean, it was obviously very egregious. I mean, you know, they -- they took out a huge chunk of the audio to make -- convey a different point.

ZIMMERMAN: Repeatedly, and I would alleged in the suit -- the lawsuit alleges deliberately, and now Mr. Beasley has gone on the record saying that, to quote him, he intends to go forward ASAP.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who's Mr. Beasley?

ZIMMERMAN: Mr. Beasley is co-counsel with Mr. O'Mara for GZB NBC.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Is there anything about the judge that strikes you?

ZIMMERMAN: I think that line of questioning at the end was bizarre, and bizarre is kind of the buzzword that I heard and continue to hear about her insisting to interact only with George directly and get him to affirmatively waive or retain his right to take the stand or not. I thought that was kind of -- that was kind of bizarre. I've never seen it happen that way.

People -- you know, lawyers, judges have always told me they wait until the defense rests to ask questions like that. And that's the way that I had seen it before. But I thought that line of questioning was really bizarre.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I was -- I was hard on her for that, too. One thing, though, that I sort of, you know, as I thought later, is, like - - I thought it was wrong. I thought it was -- and frankly, I thought it was stupid on her part. It was not done in front of the jury. And -- which is important.

And the other thing is, is that -- is that you sort of look at the whole -- whole universe of her rulings and whether they were, you know, grossly unfair. I may have disagreed with some of her rulings if I were the lawyer -- lawyers, but -- but you know, overall, you know, I thought that was bizarre, but it as not -- maybe it was just a judge who was exhausted and not thinking.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. I mean, everybody was exhausted at that time. I mean, there was a very contentious exchange between Mr. West and the judge and the judge...

VAN SUSTEREN: See, I don't think she liked him. I don't think she liked West at all. I thought that was pretty apparent. But that was -- I didn't see much of that in front of the jury.

ZIMMERMAN: No. And thankfully not because then that reflects, you know, poorly on the client, especially if he's being asked if he's going to take the stand or not, and that kind of exchange happens, it looks like he might be intending on hiding something, you know, so thank God it didn't happen in front of the jury. And the judge moved the case along pretty quickly.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, George gets his gun back. Any problem with that in your mind?

ZIMMERMAN: George is an innocent man. The presumption of innocence that his -- he is entitled to is carried throughout the proceedings and now he has been found to be exonerated of charges. So he is just as innocent now as he was then.

I think that gun -- I don't know how he's going to feel about having that gun. I would hope that he would consider destroying that gun. Now, he may have very good reason to want to be armed because of the numerous threats directed at him and at his family. And you know, you can't afford to be wrong with a threat like that. I think he's learned from this experience and that he would be very responsible.

VAN SUSTEREN: What are his plans?

ZIMMERMAN: Hard to tell, Greta. Hard to tell what my plans are, our parents' plans. You know, this is, like, 48 hours after this sigh of relief. We all plan on healing. We all plan on reconstructing, I guess is a good word. But we cannot replicate what life was like before this, but we have to pick up the pieces of the -- of the aspects of our lives that we kind of just left by the wayside because we were all -- we all had a laser beam focus on seeing George acquitted, and that was -- you know, we ate, slept and breathed this case and this acquittal.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's -- what people often forget is -- like, you know, people look at trials like sporting events, who won, who lost. You know, both families took a terrible beating, and Trayvon Martin lost his life. I mean, this is a horrible tragedy for both families.

ZIMMERMAN: Every loss of life is tragic and nobody wins when anybody dies. I mean, that should go without saying. There was no winner then. I mean, George, when he recounted what had happened -- I've said it before -- he just was never again the same person.

It was, like, I had seen him three days before, and then this happened and he was not the same. I think he was very remorseful and sorrowful for what had happened and felt that he had lost then. We didn't know what it would become, you know, later. And there's a legal victory in one sense, but there are no winners.

VAN SUSTEREN: He looked so unemotional during the trial. You know, we're -- I'm just looking on the outside. I don't know your brother. He looked so unemotional, sort of, you know -- sort of flat.

ZIMMERMAN: He was innocent, you know?

VAN SUSTEREN: I know, but I mean, but some people -- if you falsely accuse me of something, sometimes I get angry. You know, if you accuse me of something I say I didn't do, I get mad.

ZIMMERMAN: Right. Yes, I mean, I think he -- that's how George is, first of all. We're brothers, but we're kind of different in our personalities. I'm a little bit more animated and livelier than he is, and he's very steady as you go, very responsible, very warm-hearted.

And he -- I think that anybody in that situation has to be very careful how they, you know, express themselves in front of the people who are going to decide your fate.

VAN SUSTEREN: I keep thinking about the fact the prosecutor said post-verdict the word to describe your brother, and she says murderer.

ZIMMERMAN: Outrageous. Wildly inappropriate. I don't know that -- it seems that that woman, you know, will stop at no end to continue to trash George. I don't -- I don't understand why a prosecutor would do that instead of just saying that they respect the outcome and that George was presumed innocent and was found to be not guilty, which means you carry that presumption of innocence over.

I really can't get inside her head. She's lashed out at Professor Dershowitz at Harvard University before. She just fired Mr. Kruidbos, the whistleblower who was so concerned that Mr. O'Mara was not getting discovery he was entitled to. You know, God bless her. I'll keep her in my prayers.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there's still probably potential legal problems on the horizon. You're got the civil suit potentially, and also Department of Justice is investigating. Any thought to the attorney general, what you'd like to say to him?

ZIMMERMAN: I -- I -- you know, if I had the opportunity to have Mr. Holder here, I would say, you know, Mr. Holder, at some point, we have to quit moving the goalposts. You know, people clamored for an arrest when there was no indication that there should be. Then they clamored for George's fair day in court. Then they asked that the verdict be respected. And then when it was not the verdict that people wanted, we're back where we were, you know, in February and March of 2012, moving the goalposts and insisting that George has to pay somehow for defending his life.

I'm very disappointed that he described what transpired as a death that didn't have to happen. I think that flies in the face of the definition of self-defense. You know, if that -- it's unfortunate that it happened, but describing it that way really fans the flames of the people who are confused and are reacting right now to this verdict emotionally instead of analytically.

VAN SUSTEREN: Robert, thank you for joining us.

ZIMMERMAN: Thanks for having me, Greta.