MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. In a few minutes, we are going to talk about those charges that Wal-Mart paid bribes in Mexico to help build its business there. But first, we are returning to another important story that we've been following in this country. Today, we speak with Sybrina Fulton. She is the mother of Trayvon Martin. He, of course, is the teenager who was shot and killed in Florida in February by a man named George Zimmerman.
After months of public pressure, Mr. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. He is now out on bail. Trayvon Martin's death has sparked debate about many things, about race, about the clothing preferred by many teens, about self-defense laws. Previously on this program, we had the opportunity to speak with Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin. He is here with us today, but we are going to speak with his mother, Sybrina Fulton.
And also with us in Benjamin Crump. He is the attorney working with Trayvon Martin's parents to continue to bring public attention to this case. Ms. Fulton, Mr. Martin, Mr. Crump, thank you so much for speaking with us, and our condolences, of course, once again.
SYBRINA FULTON: Thank you.
MARTIN: I just - it's very hard to look a mother in the face and ask her how she's doing after losing a child, and - but I have to ask you: How are you doing?
FULTON: I'm basically just taking one day at a time. It's very difficult for me. Of course, I have a little hole in my heart, and that little hole is caused by the tragedy of Trayvon's death. I'm praying a lot and just meditating just to get through this process.
MARTIN: This story has touched so many people, and I just wondered what that has been like for you. Is it surprising to you that so many people are so engaged in this and so concerned about this? Is that something that you ever envisioned?
FULTON: No. When we went into it, we went into it with a focus, and our focus was to get justice for Trayvon. It does help to see so many people that are supporting us, and we really appreciate those people that signed the petition, that's praying for us, and that's just standing behind us because it's, you know, difficult for us as parents. And just to see support from other parents and other individuals that are concerned, it helps a lot.
MARTIN: When I spoke with Trayvon's father Tracy Martin earlier a couple of weeks ago, he also said how grateful he was for the support that the public has extended to you, and he said at the time, and this is - when we spoke, no arrest had been made at the time. No charges had been filed at the time. He said that all he was hoping for was for justice to be served. And I just want to play a short clip of that conversation.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)
TRACY MARTIN: As I've said many times before, in this struggle, in this battle, we look for the public to be our crutch to lean on. We're not promoting violence with violence. We're just looking for justice in the right way. Our son died the wrong way. So we're not looking for an eye for an eye. We're just looking for justice to be served.
MARTIN: As we are speaking, George Zimmerman has now been charged and he's out on bail. Do you feel, at least, that you are on your way toward justice?
FULTON: I feel, by him being arrested, that we are moving into the right direction. I certainly feel that he should've been arrested at the scene, but he was not. He was arrested some 44 days later. But I do think that it was justified that he be arrested.
MARTIN: When we spoke with Mr. Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara, he suggested that this whole process could take a year. I just wonder how you feel you will - how are you going to make it through a year of this if, indeed, it takes that long for this whole thing to work its way through the system?
FULTON: As I said before, my focus is getting justice for Trayvon. So if it takes me the rest of my life, I am dedicated and committed to getting justice. So I can wait a year. If that's the process, the proper process that it has to take, I'm willing to wait for justice to be served.
MARTIN: I do have to ask you about something that happened at the - maybe it was the arraignment, or the moment that the charges were read to Mr. Zimmerman. He said he was sorry, and I wondered if you wanted to respond to that.
FULTON: Well, I'm just going to direct that question to my attorney.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Yeah.
MARTIN: OK. Mr. Crump, you're here, also.
CRUMP: Yes, ma'am. And Michel, as we said before, it was such an inappropriate time to do that. It was requested by his attorney right before the bond hearing, could he have a private meeting to apologize. He says he's always wanted to apologize. Well, we think that's very insincere, when you think of all the opportunities he had to apologize.
He had a Web page that he authored that he said was the real George Zimmerman, and he said he is going to put everything important and everything that is relevant to this matter on that website. Nowhere on that website did he ever say that he was sorry for taking the life of Trayvon Martin. No...
MARTIN: OK. Insincere I understand, but why inappropriate?
CRUMP: Well, at a bond hearing? It seems you have an ulterior motive to say I'm sorry when I'm trying to ask the judge to let me out of jail.
CRUMP: Second-degree murder is a non-bondable offense. We believe had Trayvon Martin shot George Zimmerman, and the shoe been on the other foot, that Trayvon Martin would not have been given a bond.
MARTIN: If you're just joining us, I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm speaking with Benjamin Crump. He is the attorney working with the parents of Trayvon Martin. He, of course, is the unarmed teenager who was killed in February. We're talking about events in that terrible situation. Also with us, Sybrina Fulton, who is the mother of Trayvon Martin. We previously had the opportunity to speak with Trayvon's father.
Mr. Crump, since we're talking about some of these legal issues, we spoke with Mr. Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, and I had asked him about the difference between first degree and second-degree murder and what that means, what the charge means. I'll just play the clip of that conversation, just in case you didn't hear it.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)
MARK O'MARA: Second-degree murder doesn't include the premeditation. It doesn't include an existing felony. It just includes a different standard, one of, you know, again, reckless disregard or depraved mind is another statute that they - or another term that they reference of how to handle a murder case.
MARTIN: Given the facts as we now - as we understand them, for what we know now, do you feel that this is an appropriate charge in this case?
CRUMP: It is. And as special prosecutor Angela Corey said, she would not have charged him with second-degree murder if, after they fully and fairly examined the evidence, that they could not get a conviction. The only reason she charged him with second-degree murder, because she said they were very confident they could get a conviction. And even when you look at the standards, Michel, a depraved mind and reckless disregard, we've got those 911 tapes.
We have the objective evidence. Don't take my word for it. Don't take George Zimmerman's word for it. You listen to those 911 tapes and that objective evidence. When he got out of that car, he intended to pursue and confront Trayvon Martin. Not what he's saying now, what he said on that 911 tape.
MARTIN: Do you feel this is the appropriate venue in which to try this case?
CRUMP: We're going to see how far we've progressed in America. Can everybody get equal justice under the law, no matter what race you are, no matter where you come from? And everybody is asking this question can George Zimmerman get a fair trial, when the real question in our mind and in our heart is: Can Trayvon Martin get a fair trial? Because history of statistics say that George Zimmerman is going to be just fine.
MARTIN: Hmm. Ms. Fulton, if we could just spend the last couple of minutes with you. It's kind of a similar question. Do you feel - all the people who've reached out to you, I have personally seen that there seem to be people of a lot of different races and backgrounds reaching out to you. Does that give you confidence that this case will be appropriately received by whoever tries it?
FULTON: I believe so. I have said before that it's not about black and white. And I - as I look in the crowds when we're at the rallies and we're at the different church services and things like that, I noticed that it's not just African-American people. It's not just black people that are there. There are Spanish people. There are white people. There are Mexican people, Cuban people. There are people from all across the globe. So that indicates to me that it's not just about African-Americans.
MARTIN: As we are speaking now, Mother's Day's coming, and I'm wondering what that's going to be like for you.
FULTON: I've previously enjoyed Mother's Day. I'm going to - my mother is still living, so, of course, I'm going to take care of my mother and make sure that she has flowers and a gift and, you know, just spend time with my mother. My kids usually spend time with me. So it probably will be a certain point in that day that I would, of course, think about Trayvon and what he has done for me in the past, and how I'm going to miss him in the future.
MARTIN: What did he do with you in the past? How did you all celebrate Mother's Day?
FULTON: We usually went to church. We usually, you know, go to church and have dinner. And we - it's a family thing, so we - there's my mother. My grandmother used to be there, aunts, uncles, cousins - so, as a family.
MARTIN: Many people have commented upon your - and Trayvon's father's - dignity through this experience. And I did want to ask if there's anything - have you found something in yourself through the course of this that perhaps you did not know was there?
FULTON: The one thing that I can say is I had no idea that I had the amount of strength that I have. People always tell you God will not put more on you than you can bear, and I really just didn't know how much I could bear. I've always been a praying woman. I've always attended church my whole life, and it just made me lean more on the things that I was already taught. So I still thank God for the things that I have, and I'm just moving forward, and just stay prayerful.
MARTIN: Well, thank you for speaking with us, and, of course, our condolences for your loss and thank you for taking the time to speak with us in this very difficult time in your life.
FULTON: Thank you.
MARTIN: Sybrina Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin. She was kind enough to join us in our Washington, D.C. studios. Also with us, Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin. He did not speak with us at this juncture. We've spoken with him previously here. Also in the Washington, D.C. studio, Benjamin Crump. He is assisting Trayvon Martin's parents in continuing to keep this issue in the public eye. And they were all here in Washington, D.C.
Thank you all so much.
FULTON: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.