George Zimmerman's parents have tried staying out of the public eye since their son was charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But on Wednesday, they decided to make their first appearance in court since jury selection began.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is on trial for second-degree murder for killing Martin in Sanford, Florida, on the night of February 26, 2012. He claims he shot the teenager in self-defense.
Zimmerman's parents were joined by his sister and say the "time was right" to come out and support Zimmerman "despite safety considerations," according to the family.
The following statement was sent to HLN on behalf of Zimmerman's brother, Robert, who wasn't in court Wednesday:
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"Our parents: Mr. & Mrs. Zimmerman along with our sister are in court today supporting George. Despite safety considerations, the time was right to do what they could to visibly advocate for George's innocence. Our parents have avoided showing their face on-camera because of numerous death threats directed at our entire family. Our parents have served as primary caretakers for our grandmother Cristina for years. Alzheimer's disease has left her requiring round-the-clock care & supervision. I am happy to care for our grandmother, as George, our sister & I were raised largely with her help and consider her a parent."
Robert Zimmerman says the family may not be visible in court for the duration of the trial -- for a good reason.
"Going forward, security and other concerns are paramount and our periodic absence from court should not be misinterpreted as a withdrawal of support. Our position as a family has been clear & consistent since the night George was attacked: We are all sympathetic to the tragic reality of outliving a son or daughter, however... George acted in self-defense, self-defense should not be criminalized & we stand by George because he told the truth."
The family was present as jury selection moved into its second phase. A total of 58 potential jurors were individually questioned about pre-trial publicity during the first stage of jury selection. That pool was whittled down to 40 potential jurors who can now be asked more general questions that could include subjects like race, crime and self-defense.
Stay with HLN and HLNtv.com for complete coverage of the George Zimmerman trial.