Robert Zimmerman Sr. arrived at the Orlando Sentinel lobby alone March 15.
He was so nervous that he was trembling. Sad and resigned, he discussed death threats his family had received.
But the father of George Zimmerman also was determined as he demanded that the Sentinel print a typed, one-page letter with the message: "The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth."
The newspaper published the letter online later that day, as well as in the next day's edition.
His media critique came a week after Trayvon Martin's dad, Tracy, first spoke out about his son's fatal shooting Feb. 26. Tracy Martin demanded that Sanford police arrest George Zimmerman — a demand that echoed across the country.
Since the shooting, the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman story line has been shaped, in large part, by those dueling scenarios as both sides have used the media to present their version of the truth.
Race has been a driving force. The Martin team has highlighted profiling and unequal justice, while the Zimmerman camp has countered that race was a red herring that clouded the central issue: Zimmerman acted in self-defense.
Trayvon was black. Neighborhood Watch volunteer Zimmerman was initially described as white.
But other issues also propelled the story atop the national news. The public debated the merits of Florida's "stand your ground" law; the rules of Neighborhood Watch and how far its volunteers can go in protecting their neighborhoods; and even the advisability of wearing hoodies.
"It was a cultural story about race, about state laws. There were a lot of components that elevated it above just another crime story," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
"That's what journalism has always been about: stories that can provoke a deeper conversation about issues. You don't have to live in Florida to know the details of the case."
In the court of public opinion, the Zimmerman side initially suffered one misstep after another while trying to get its message out. The Martin side, meanwhile, shared its version of the story early, clearly and frequently.
"Their goal was simply to keep this case in the public forefront and not let it get swept under the rug, and they did that excellently," said Orlando attorney Mark NeJame, a legal analyst for CNN. "Trayvon's team adopted a philosophy of simply repeating their position as if it were a mantra."
That mantra: Trayvon, just 17, was an innocent child walking home in his hoodie when he was shot in cold blood, armed only with Skittles and iced tea. Zimmerman should be arrested.
The mantra for Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney: "Wait until you know the facts of the case."
"This case has gotten skewed way off the base of what I think it should be on, because people are not listening to and seeing facts," O'Mara said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday.
"A lot of people ran with the idea that this was a racially motivated case when there was no support to it."
That was hard to see in the beginning, when protesters joined the Martin family's demand that Zimmerman be charged with killing Trayvon. After weeks of national outcry, an arrest happened April 11 when a special prosecutor charged him with second-degree murder.
"The narrative plays toward the mob in a case like this," said Al Tompkins, an instructor at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg. "The story is easy to understand. The youth is innocent, and the youth is the victim. What happens is a complex narrative that's much more difficult to get your arms around and sort out how you should feel.
"It's not as simple as man shoots teen. There appears to have been some struggle. Once you know the narrative, the facts change. The man [Zimmerman] did have injuries. The youth actually fought back somehow. It's difficult for the public to stop in its tracks and alter its thinking in any way."