(CBS/AP) SANFORD, Fla. - The family of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin made emotional statements in front of a Florida courthouse Monday as opening statements in the trial of his accused killer got underway.
"As I have been every day, I will be at this courthouse to try to get justice for my son,"said Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother. "I ask that you pray for me and my family because I don't want any other mother to have to experience what I'm going through now."
George Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, is accused of second-degree murder in Martin's shooting death during an altercation in a Sanford, Fla. gated community last year. Fulton spoke at a press conference before Monday's court proceedings along with Martin's father, Tracy, and family attorney Benjamin Crump.
"There's two important facts in this case - number one, George Zimmerman was a grown man with a gun, and number two, Trayvon Martin was a minor who had no blood on his hands," Crump told reporters.
Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, says he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense. Prosecutors say Zimmerman racially profiled Martin as he walked through a gated community where Zimmerman lived and often patrolled. Martin was returning from a convenience store on a rainy night in February 2012, wearing a dark hooded shirt. The two eventually got into a fight and Zimmerman shot Martin.
"As the court proceedings continue today, we as a family cherish and hold on to the memories that Trayvon left us with," Martin's father, Tracy, said at the press conference. "As we enter the courtroom today to seek justice for our son Trayvon, we hold on to his smile, which strengthens us. We ask that you all continue to pray for us."
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled last week prosecutors will be able to use the word "profiled" in their opening statements, as long as their description isn't limited to racial profiling.
Prosecutors will be able to describe Zimmerman as a "wannabe cop" and "vigilante" and will be able to say Zimmerman confronted Martin.
"We don't intend to say he was profiled solely because of race," prosecutor John Guy said last week.
Defense attorneys Mark O'Mara and Don West will argue the case is simply self-defense, free of the racial overtones that have overshadowed it. The initial decision not to charge Zimmerman led to public outrage and demonstrations around the nation. Civil rights leaders and others accused the police in the central Florida city of Sanford of failing to thoroughly investigate the shooting because Martin was a black teen from Miami.