February 25, 2013
Sybrina Fulton (Jonathan Capehart)
Sybrina Fulton (Jonathan Capehart)

Sybrina Fulton wants George Zimmerman to stand trial for killing her son Trayvon Martin a year ago tomorrow in Sanford, Fla. Before that can happen, Judge Debra Nelson must determine whether the immunity from prosecution granted under Florida’s insane “stand your ground” (SYG) law applies to Zimmerman and his actions on Feb. 26, 2012. Neither Fulton nor her attorney Benjamin Crump believe it does. This is the only area where they agree with Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer. But Fulton says if the former neighborhood watch volunteer avoids a jury trial, “a whole lot of people need to be afraid.”

Over an hour-long lunch at Jerry’s Seafood in Bowie, Md., on Friday, Fulton talked about the year since Trayvon’s death, from her “disbelief” about what happened to the role race might play in the case. When I asked Fulton what the last year has been like, a swirl of pain and resolve could be heard in her voice. While she is heartened by the outpouring of moral support, she is “sad” that she will not be seeing “my son graduate from high school, of seeing my son going to the prom, of seeing my son going to college, getting married, having kids.”

I would like to ensure that this does not happen to somebody else’s child. I want them to take this case and use this case as an example to stand up and try to prevent this from happening to anybody else. I wouldn’t want anybody to go through what I’ve gone through in the last year. …

It’s really difficult to try to process what happened in my mind to try to help, not only other children, but my other son. I would like to have some type of remedy to solve this, to try to prevent this from reoccurring. I believe that death is unavoidable but violent crimes are.

After pushing for Zimmerman’s arrest, Fulton and her ex-husband Tracy Martin have concentrated on ensuring that Zimmerman faces a jury of his peers. “Our focus shifted from the burial to an arrest,” Fulton said. “Now our focus is a conviction. … We have always maintained our moral standards and not acted out because we think that and we’re hopeful that he will serve time and be held accountable.”

“We can live with a jury verdict,” Crump said. What they would have trouble accepting is Zimmerman walking away with immunity. Fulton is afraid of the precedent that would set.

“It sends a signal, [a] terrible message to people that in order for you to get off from murdering somebody you have to kill the person so they don’t tell their side of the story,” she said. “Now, I’m not by any means an attorney, so I understand generally what the Castle Doctrine is and also the ‘stand your ground’ law. I’m an average person and my understanding [of the] message that they will be sending [is] that you don’t have to be accountable for what you’ve done.”

Crump said it would be “very disappointing” and “incredibly heartbreaking” if Zimmerman received immunity from prosecution. And he put in stark terms the reason why. “It’s just like Sybrina just said: We all need to be afraid, because the precedent would be set that you can kill certain people and say, ‘stand your ground.’… [T]hat’s a terrible precedent, for little black and brown boys especially.”

If Judge Nelson does indeed grant Zimmerman immunity, Trayvon’s parents have a clear message everyone must heed. “We will respect the rule of law,” Crump said, with Fulton nodding in agreement. “And we won’t do what George Zimmerman did when he got out of his car, profiled and pursued Trayvon and took the law into his own hands.

“We won’t resort to vigilante justice,” he said. “We will let vengeance be unto God.”

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview with Trayvon Martin’s mother.

Follow Jonathan Capehart on Twitter.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.