A friend who spoke on the phone with Trayvon Martin only moments before he was shot dead in a Florida suburb had to be hospitalized from the trauma. Though there's no recording of the call, Martin's family says her story, refuting the shooter's self-defense claim, can be trusted.
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Cell phone records provided by the family’s attorney indicate the 16-year-old girl was having a conversation with Martin only about five minutes before he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.Video: Teen’s last call sheds new light on shooting (on this page)
Martin, 17, was returning home from a trip to a local 7-Eleven when he had the deadly encounter in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., with Zimmerman, 28, who has claimed that he shot the unarmed teen in self defense. Zimmerman has not been charged, but the State Attorney’s Office has announced it will convene a grand jury in the case. The incident has sparked national outrage.Story: Mom: Trayvon Martin was killed because of 'the color of his skin'
Though early on in the investigation police asked for anyone with information related to the shooting to come forward, Martin's friend did not — because she was highly emotional, Martin's mother told TODAY Wednesday.
“She was distraught because of the situation that happened with Trayvon and the fact that she was on the phone with him right before the incident occurred,’’ Sybrina Fulton, told Matt Lauer. “She was hospitalized. She also mentioned to us that she had feelings for Trayvon, so it hurt her dearly to know that he had passed away.’’
Family attorney Ben Crump argued that though the call was not recorded, the girl's account is not hearsay.
“She is a 16-year-old teenager who just lost a friend very special to her,’’ Crump told Lauer. “Her parents are very concerned. They did not want her to get involved, and it wasn’t until Mr. Martin found the phone records and saw that she called him at 7:12. The police got on the scene at 7:17, and he was shot and dead on the ground.’’
The girl, whose identity has not been released, said Martin, realizing someone was following him, pulled up the hood of his sweatshirt. She told Trayvon to run, and then the call was cut off.'Stand Your Ground' law muddies Martin case
“So she says run, and (Martin) says ‘I’m not going to run, I’m just going to walk fast,’’’ Crump told reporters. “And at that point, she hears Trayvon say, ‘Why are you following me?’ And that’s when she said she hears the other boy say, ‘What are you doing around here?’’’
“To me it proves that he wasn’t walking around the neighborhood doing anything suspicious,’’ said Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, on TODAY. “He was on his way home. He had every right to have on his hoodie. It was raining. Why not put on his hoodie to prevent getting wet?’’Video: Trayvon Martin’s parents: We want an arrest (on this page)
There also have been allegations that Zimmerman can be heard muttering a racial slur on the 911 tapes that were released from the incident, though he may have been saying "punks."
“I heard the entire tape,’’ Tracy Martin said. “I think he said words that were not comforting to my ear. ‘These people.’ ‘Who are these people?’ He was suspicious because (Trayvon) was young and black with a hoodie.’’Lawyer: Trayvon Martin fearful in final call
Florida has a “Stand Your Ground’’ law that gives people the right to protect themselves with deadly force, even outside of their homes. Since the law was enacted in 2005, data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows that the number of justifiable homicides has tripled.
“The 'Stand Your Ground' law is a license to kill,’’ former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey told NBC News. “(Zimmerman) is clearly claiming self defense and relying on the 'Stand Your Ground' law. However, there is circumstantial evidence suggesting that he had no business gunning down somebody who’s armed only with Skittles and a can of iced tea.’’Neighbor defends Trayvon Martin's shooter: 'No Rambo'
A Department of Justice lawyer told NBC News on the condition of anonymity that, “While the investigation of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin will go forward, it will be difficult to prosecute the case under federal law. Civil rights law protects against hate crimes or actions by police officers, but Martin’s shooting may not have either of those elements.’’
Martin’s family is confident that a jury can be convinced that Zimmerman committed a crime.
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“I would urge people to patient and let the courts decide, but I strongly feel that he needs to be arrested because a crime was committed,’’ Tracy Martin said. “My son is murdered. My son is not with us no more. Nothing can bring him back.’’
“There are witnesses, and I just want them to take a look at the evidence that they have,’’ Fulton said. “My heart hurts because this guy has not been arrested. I just feel like the Sanford Police Department decided…on the scene to be the judge and jury. I just want this guy arrested so he can be brought to justice.’’Video: Feds to probe shooting death of Fla. teen
Crump said police should have charged Zimmerman from the beginning.
“It’s real simple to us,’’ Crump said. “He needs to be arrested, prosecuted, convicted. The state needs to do it. It’s crazy that this family has to wait for grand juries and stuff when if it was the other way around, they would’ve arrested their son on the spot.’’
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