Zimmerman balks at ABC interview after network rejects demands

Posted at 9:31 PM, Jul 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-19 21:31:07-04
(CNN) — The man accused of killing an unarmed Florida teenager dropped plans for a second television interview after the ABC network would not provide a month of “shelter and security” for his family, his attorney said Thursday.

George Zimmerman had been in talks with ABC’s show “The View” about an interview to be aired Thursday, a day after he sat down with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity. One of the show’s hosts, Barbara Walters, told viewers Thursday that she had been forced to scrub the plans when Zimmerman demanded “a condition that we could not agree to.”

Walters would not specify the demand, but Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, told CNN that Zimmerman “asked for shelter and security for his wife for a month. They said they could not do that.” Zimmerman had not yet agreed to sit for questions from ABC, O’Mara said, and “decided to wait on doing another interview.”

But near the end of Thursday’s show, Walters said Zimmerman called in and offered to talk. She refused.

“If you could not do the interview yesterday, I don’t think we should do a quick one today,” she said to applause from the studio audience. “If in the future you feel different, we will consider it.”

O’Mara said Zimmerman is again soliciting money through the website he set up in the aftermath of the shooting, and the legal defense fund amassed so far is “basically broke.” But he said Fox had not offered his client anything in exchange for its session with him, and that Zimmerman agreed to go on the show because Hannity “was fair to him from the beginning, telling everyone to not rush to judgment.”

Meanwhile, Zimmerman has created a website with text and a video of him speaking directly to the camera in English and then in Spanish; the website’s location is

“I want to set the record straight about some things. I created this website to give me, the real George Zimmerman, a place to do that,” Zimmerman writes on the Web page. 

The website also solicits donations to his legal defense fund.

Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the February 26 death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old who had been walking through Zimmerman’s neighborhood that evening. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who was carrying a pistol, has said he killed Martin in self-defense during a struggle.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, racially profiled the African-American Martin and ignored a police dispatcher’s advice to avoid a confrontation. The case drew national attention because police did not bring charges against Zimmerman in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, saying the circumstances required further investigation.

During the Fox interview, Zimmerman expressed his regrets to Martin’s parents, but said, “I’m not a racist, and I’m not a murderer.” He said he can’t now second-guess what happened, adding, “I feel it was all God’s plan.”

That drew an angry response from Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. God did not have a plan for Trayvon to die and for George Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon for no reason,” she told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Thursday.

Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, said, “I would just like to know, why did he even get out of the car? Why was my son so suspicious? What made him rush to judge my son and think that he was a criminal?”

Zimmerman told Hannity that Martin appeared to be suspicious as he cut between buildings. He said he moved toward a different area when police told him not to continue following the young man, but Martin approached him with “confrontational” body language.

“He asked me what my problem was,” Zimmerman said. “I said I did not have a problem.” When he reached for his cell phone, Zimmerman said, Martin punched his nose and broke it.

Zimmerman said he didn’t know whether he fell or was pushed to the ground. Martin straddled him and told him to shut up during their struggle, he said.

“He started bashing my head into the concrete sidewalk. And as he broke my nose, I started yelling for help. I was disoriented,” he said.

Zimmerman said it was his voice heard screaming for help on a recording of a 911 call. “(Martin) started to try to suffocate me, and I continued to push his hands off my mouth and nose.” He said he was concerned he would lose consciousness.

Zimmerman told Hannity he had to shoot Martin when Martin told him he was going to die and made a move for Zimmerman’s handgun.

Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump told O’Brien that the state attorney will see the interview as a “gift,” because Zimmerman’s description of what happened conflicts with the 911 calls from the night of the shooting.

Zimmerman, who apologized to Martin’s parents during an April bail hearing, again expressed regret Wednesday.

“My wife and I don’t have any children. I have nephews that I love more than life. I love them more than myself. And I know when they were born, it was a different unique bond and love that I have with them,” Zimmerman told Fox. “And I love my children even though they aren’t born yet. I am sorry that they buried their child. I can’t imagine what it must feel like. And I pray for them daily.”

Tracy Martin said he had no desire to speak with Zimmerman.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and has been free on $1 million bail since early July. He had been granted bail in April but a judge revoked it after finding that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie Zimmerman, had failed to disclose more than $150,000 in donations from the public among their assets.

Zimmerman was arrested in April on the murder charge. His wife was arrested on a perjury charge related to the donations in June. Defense attorney O’Mara told Hannity that he could not comment on the donations, given the case against Shellie Zimmerman.

He did say the case against his client would be an appropriate example of a “stand your ground” defense in Florida. Zimmerman said he had not heard of the law before the incident. He also said the media have made a rush to judgment.

Witnesses tell the FBI that George Zimmerman is no racist.