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Trayvon Martin's parents reject request for private meeting with accused killer

Attorney Benjamin Crump, left, and law partner Daryl Parks, representing Trayvon Martin’s parents, sit on a panel Thursday at a town hall meeting at Beulah Baptist Institutional Church.
Published Apr. 20, 2012

TAMPA — The parents of Trayvon Martin will not grant a request any time soon to meet with their son's accused killer, their attorney said Thursday.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the parents of the teenager, were informed of the request on the eve of defendant George Zimmerman's bail hearing today.

But now, family attorney Benjamin Crump said at a press conference, is not the time.

"We believe Zimmerman's request at this time is very self-serving some 50 days later, the day before his bond hearing," Crump said. "He had a Web page — never apologized there. Had the voicemails we've heard — never apologized then. So, we feel that you all can conclude for yourselves what motivations there are."

Crump and Martin's parents came to Tampa for a noon Thursday town hall meeting at Beulah Baptist Institutional Church on W Cypress Street.

The crowd of about 400 people offered support and condolences to Martin's parents, and also learned from a panel of speakers about the difficulties of trying a case in Florida related to the "stand your ground" law.

Martin, 17, was shot and killed Feb. 26 while visiting Sanford with his father. Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch captain, called the Sanford Police Department to report a suspicious person in his neighborhood and then got out of his vehicle to approach Martin, who was unarmed. Zimmerman admitted to shooting the teen after a struggle, but said it was self-defense.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, has said his client wants to meet with Martin's family. He did not explain why Zimmerman wants the meeting.

"I've talked a couple of times about the conversation that, hopefully, will occur directly to the Martin family, a private conversation," said O'Mara, according to Bay News 9.

Zimmerman is scheduled for a court hearing today that could determine whether bail is set for his release from jail before trial.

"We stand on legal, public safety and moral grounds to solidify our position that Zimmerman should be held without bond until these matters are concluded," Crump said.

Still, other legal experts pointed out that Zimmerman has a good chance of getting a pretrial release.

He turned himself in voluntarily after second-degree murder charges were filed against him, an indication he doesn't pose a flight risk. And he has never been convicted of a crime, a suggestion that he doesn't pose a threat to society.

The judge could set bail with conditions, such as GPS monitoring, a curfew and banning any use of alcohol and nonprescription drugs.

In the weeks after their son's death, Martin and Fulton have toured the country, appeared on talk shows and granted interviews to call attention to the initial lack of an arrest in the case.

Now that Zimmerman has been charged, Crump said the parents will no longer be speaking publicly — and they didn't during the gathering Thursday.

After the discussion, dozens of supporters lined up to give condolences to the parents and members of their family in the first pew of the church.

The crowd spent the previous two hours being called to action to vote and pressure politicians to make sure such a case is not repeated.

The discussion illuminated obstacles ahead for prosecutor Angela Corey of Jacksonville, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. Zimmerman's attorney can present to a judge the "stand your ground" defense, which is based on a 2005 law that removed a duty to retreat by anyone who is in a place legally and reasonably fears for his life. If the judge accepts the argument, the case could be dismissed.

Clearwater lawyer Robert Patton said he supports the law and came to the meeting because he doesn't believe it applies.

"If he successfully uses that defense," Patton said, "it will open up vigilantism in Florida."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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