Sean Hannity's exclusive one-hour interview with George Zimmerman on Fox News Wednesday night shed a little bit of new light on the controversial shooting death of Trayvon Martin, all of it favorable for Zimmerman, who was in friendly quarters with Hannity. But that's not to say that Zimmerman didn't appear genuine, even though he'd certainly prepared for the recorded conversation.
Zimmerman told Hannity that he is not a murderer or racist. The latter claim was recently buttressed by reports from more than 30 FBI interviews in this case, none of which offered evidence that Zimmerman is racist.
Much of the interview focused on the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin and how it transpired. As shown in the video below, Zimmerman offered this explanation of why he believed Martin was suspicious:
Because it was raining, [Martin] was in between houses, cutting in between houses, he was walking leisurely for the weather. It didn’t look like he was a resident going to check mail that got caught going back home, or that he was a fitness fanatic training in the rain.
This supports what the former lead investigator in the case said in his report: "Zimmerman's actions were not based on Martin's skin color, rather based on his attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community."
Zimmerman explained that he didn't pursue Martin after the police dispatcher told him that he shouldn't go after Martin — he just wanted to keep an eye on Martin to tell the police where he was going. Yet Zimmerman explains that he ultimately faced Martin, whom Zimmerman claims intimidated him and punched him in the nose when he reached for his cell phone.
Zimmerman told Hannity that he wasn't sure if he immediately fell to the ground after the punch or was pushed down. He said Martin repeatedly hit his head against the concrete, during which time he feared he might lose consciousness and die. He said he began yelling and Martin covered his mouth.
"He said, 'You’re going to die tonight,'" Zimmerman said. "He took his hand off my mouth, put it down my chest toward the holster. That’s when I — I didn’t have more time."
Hannity later asked a series of retrospective questions about the case.
Hannity: Do you regret getting out of car?
Hannity: Do you regret having gun?
Hannity:Do feel you would be sitting here if you didn’t have that gun?
Zimmerman: No. I feel it was all God’s plan. For me to second-guess it ...
Zimmerman said he carried a gun with him everywhere except when he went to work. However, he also said that prior to this case, he was unaware of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law (enacted in 2005), which will serve as the basis of his defense at trial. If true, then Zimmerman fired at Martin even without knowledge that deadly force might be legally justifiable. While not necessarily relevant to this case, if what Zimmerman says is true on the issue, it undercuts a broader notion that Florida's Stand Your Ground Law might actually encourage use of deadly force.
Zimmerman also talked about his struggle with media coverage and "conjecture" about the case. "It’s surreal. I don’t like that they’ve rushed to judgment the way they have. I feel that anytime they have a story that’s remotely positive — they interpret it negatively."
Hannity, who had contact with Zimmerman in the days before his arrest, steered the conversation to his own involvement. Global Grind wrote in a report on Wednesday that Hannity offered to pay for Zimmerman's legal fees. Zimmerman said in response to a pointed question about it, "Never happened."
UPDATE: Though Zimmerman apologized in the interview, saying of Trayvon Martin's parents, “I can't imagine what it must feel like. And I pray for them daily,” their feelings toward him haven't changed. In an interview with the Associated Press late Wednesday night, the teen's father, Tracy Martin, said, “We must worship a different God. There is no way that my God wanted George Zimmerman to murder my teenage son.”