Ahead of the trial of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin, told CBSNews.com that he wouldn't have lost his "heart and soul" had Zimmerman not pursued his son.
"Had he just simply obeyed what the dispatcher was telling him, I wouldn't be here today, Trayvon would be getting ready for graduation," said Tracy Martin.
Zimmerman acknowledges shooting Trayvon Martin to death last February, after reporting to local police in Florida that the 17-year-old appeared suspicious. A police dispatcher urged Zimmerman not to pursue Martin, who was African-American and wearing a hoodie at the time, but Zimmerman ended up in a confrontation with the unarmed teenager. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, says he shot Martin in self-defense.
The incident set off a national conversation over U.S. race relations as well as "Stand Your Ground" laws, which state that citizens can use force when confronted with what they believe to be a threat. Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial is scheduled to begin on June 10.
"Trayvon was just going to the store, going back home," said Tracy Martin. "It's extremely tough when you look at the thought process of another individual. And his thought process is, 'here's a young African-American male, he has a hoodie on, he's up to no good.' And that's troublesome. That is very troubling to know there are people that have that thought process."
Together with Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin has been lobbying in Florida for the "Trayvon Martin Amendment," which would revise "Stand Your Ground" laws to make it harder to justify deadly force.
"You can't be the aggressor and say that you're standing your ground in a case such as our case," said Tracy Martin. "You can't pursue a person and then claim you are protecting yourself. We're not trying to change the whole stand your ground laws, but we want them to make amendments." Stand your ground laws exist in more than two dozen states, and.
Daryl Parks, an attorney representing the Martin family, said he does not see race as an issue in the shooting or the trial.
"We believe that profiling was an issue, where Tray was profiled as he walked down the street because of what he was wearing, that was the issue," he said. Parks added that he is seeking a "fair trial, a just trial."
"We want the sideshow to stop, and get on with the case," he said. "A lot of things have been said and done, we just want to have our day in court."
Tracy Martin, who appeared this week on panels at the national convention of the civil rights group National Action Network, said the time since his son's shooting has been extremely difficult.
"Trayvon - you have to understand, coming from a father's standpoint, Trayvon was my heart and soul," he said. "So to have him taken away from me, to have his life stripped away from me, not to see him graduate, not to see him go off to his prom, not to see him get married, have kids - that is, that's a terrible feeling to have."
"A woman can raise child, but a woman can't teach a young boy how to become a man," he added. "And just teaching him how to come into manhood - it was something that me and him shared. And not to finish off that chapter - that's just something that can never be replaced."