But lawyers for the Martin family believe George Zimmerman racially profiled the teenager and stalked him. Trayvon was unarmed, and carried candy, iced tea and a phone.
After giving up his gun, clothes and shoes to police, George Zimmerman gave at least three statements. Pictures were taken of his injuries. I saw him the next morning. He looked like hell. I said, Who beat you up? Zimmerman said. His nose was swollen, he had a protective thing over it, and he had a cut lip and two cuts on the back of his head.
Zimmerman insisted that no one in the Sanford Police or the Seminole County prosecutors office knew he was a retired judge. He denied ever meeting with the original prosecutor on the case, Norm Wolfinger. He said he only met once with a prosecutors investigator, when he gave a sworn statement insisting that the voice he heard on a 911 tape calling for help was Georges.
When his address was posted on the Internet, the mail started coming. He said he received about 1,000 letters, many supportive, but about 50 included threats. One note was left on the door, he said: George Zimmerman and anyone with his DNA should be eliminated.
Thats when he, his wife and mother-in-law took off. Theyve been back twice, once with a police escort.
If people want to walk around with picket signs, fine, he said. Im afraid of some young person who doesnt have a future who wants to do some damage.
He said he saw his son when he was released from jail, but wont say where he is living, only that he is as far away as Las Vegas. George, he said, is killing time waiting for his trial and living on donations.
Zimmerman insisted the family did not intentionally mislead the court at the bond hearing, where no one mentioned the donations. He said George did not know how much was in the account, because a friend administered it.
In fact, after the PayPal site went up, George asked his dad for money and even asked him to put his Lake Mary home up as collateral for his $150,000 bond. Zimmerman gave his son $500.
George didnt have $200,000 in his pocket, Zimmerman said. George is not living large.
Zimmerman criticized prosecutors, particularly the investigator who testified at the bond hearing and seemed to have little evidence to back up the probable cause affidavit he had submitted to the court.
Now, thanks to public pressure and overzealous prosecutors, he said, his sons life is ruined. Expelled from Seminole State College, he wont be able to find a job.
His stressed that his son was a well-behaved youth even if he did have a spell of poor judgment in the years he lived in the familys Lake Mary home alone before his parents moved to Florida from Virginia.
George Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for intervening in a friends arrest. He also had a battle in court with an ex-girlfriend; they each accused the other of domestic violence.
I look at him and I see someone who goes to work every day, goes to school and is married, Zimmerman said. He harbors no ill will toward Trayvon Martins family, but acknowledges that hes angry at special prosecutor Angela Corey and Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney.
No parent can completely control their child. I believe Trayvon made a bad decision, he said. When I was young, I had my issues. I would have liked to see Trayvon change his life and get married and achieve his dreams. He made a decision that changed that, and things didnt work out for anybody.