WASHINGTON – Trayvon Martin's parents expressed relief Wednesday over a special prosecutor's decision to charge the man responsible for the 17-year-old's death. Martin's mother said if she could speak directly to George Zimmerman, she would allow him a chance to say he is sorry for what happened.
"I would probably give him an opportunity to apologize," Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, told The Associated Press in an interview. "I would probably ask him if there were another way that he could have settled the confrontation that he had with Trayvon, other than the way it ended, with Trayvon being shot."
Her voice trailed off, and tears welled in her eyes. She remained stoic, and expressed faith that the justice system would work as it should.
Martin's father, Tracy Martin, offered several questions that he would like to ask Zimmerman about the sequence of events that led up to Trayvon's death, but in the end he would want to know, "Was it really worth it?"
"The question I would really like to ask him is, if he could look into Trayvon's eyes and see how innocent he was, would he have then pulled the trigger? Or would he have just let him go on home?" Tracy Martin said.
The parents spoke in Washington shortly before special prosecutor Angela Corey announced in Florida that Zimmerman, 28, had been arrested on a second-degree murder charge in their son's Feb. 26 death. The parents and Trayvon's brother, Jahvaris Fulton, were attending a national conference convened by Al Sharpton's National Action Network.
They watched Corey's announcement on television in a room at the Washington Convention Center. As soon as Corey uttered the words "second-degree murder," Martin and Fulton grasped hands, and their attorney, Benjamin Crump, placed his hands over theirs. Fulton smiled slightly at the news.
"We wanted an arrest and we got it," Fulton said later during a brief appearance before reporters. "Thank you, Lord, thank you, Jesus."
Before the arrest, Fulton said: "That won't bring Trayvon back but at least that would give us reassurance that the justice system is working."
Zimmerman's shooting of the black teenager brought demands from black leaders for his arrest and set off a furious nationwide debate over race and self-defense that reached all the way to the White House. Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, said the teenager attacked him, and he shot in self-defense. Martin's family argued Zimmerman was the aggressor.
They appealed for their supporters, as well as Zimmerman's supporters, to remain calm in response to the prosecutor's decision.
"We've always said that we want peaceful resolution, no matter what side you're on," Martin said.
"We don't want them to stop the protest and the rallies, we just want to make sure that they remain peaceful," Fulton said. "We're going through the process the right way, the proper way. We just ask that everybody that supports us do the same thing. Even the ones who don't support us, we want to make sure that they protest in a peaceful manner."