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Thursday
Apr112013

George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin's Family Clash on Arrest Anniversary

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The parents of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin clashed with emotional statements Thursday, the one-year anniversary of Zimmerman's arrest for shooting the unarmed Florida teenager.

Zimmerman's mother Gladys Zimmerman posted a two-page letter online saying that her son was innocent and was arrested "solely to placate the masses."

Hours later, Martin's family and lawyer issued their own letter, stating the Gladys Zimmerman's remarks were "disingenuous and disrespectful to the very system that is currently affording him every available opportunity to defend himself."

The case has drawn white-hot passions since Zimmerman, a Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, after telling police that he suspected the unarmed teenager was acting suspiciously.

In the months after the killing, Zimmerman, 28, claimed that Martin, 17, knocked him down, banged his head on a sidewalk and they then struggled for Zimmerman's gun, forcing him to shoot.

Zimmerman was arrested and charged with murder April 11, 2012. His trial begins June 10.

"April 11 2012 will be forever remembered by the Zimmerman family as the day the justice system failed us as Americans, and as a consequence an innocent man was arrested for a crime he did not commit, solely to placate the masses," Mrs. Zimmerman wrote in her letter.

Little evidence, she said, has been available to the public since her son's arrest, and she accused the Martin family's defense lawyer, Benjamin Crump, of "confusing the public and manipulating perception" in order to sway public opinion.

"From the beginning, this case has been heavily publicized and a false narrative was developed surrounding a very real tragedy when there was little evidence available to the public," it continued.

The continuous news coverage of George Zimmerman's arrest and incarceration, when the media reported on every detail of his life inside the Seminole County Jail, was "particularly disheartening," Gladys Zimmerman said.

Martin family attorneys have said there was no justification for the shooting, and in Thursday's statement said that he was arrested because "there was evidence to charge George Zimmerman for second-degree murder for profiling, pursuing, and killing our unarmed teenage son."

"For the Zimmerman family to allege that the justice system doesn't work, simply because they are unhappy their son was arrested in the first place, is disingenuous and disrespectful to the very system that is currently affording him every available opportunity to defend himself," the statement said. "The arrest of an admitted killer is not a violation of due process, it is due process."

The family added, "We continue to pray that our son's death will serve as a catalyst in preventing other senseless acts of gun violence."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio