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George Zimmerman's parents attend jury selection

George Zimmerman, left, listens to jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn in Seminole circuit court on June 19, in Sanford, Fla.
George Zimmerman, left, listens to jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn in Seminole circuit court on June 19, in Sanford, Fla.Joe Burbank / Pool via Getty Images

George Zimmerman's parents were in a Florida courtroom Wednesday to "visibly advocate" for the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, the family said in a statement.

Robert and Gladys Zimmerman did not previously attend jury selection because they have received death threats and have been taking care of an elderly relative with Alzheimer's, their older son, Robert Zimmerman Jr., said in a statement emailed to NBC News.

"Going forward, security and other concerns are paramount and our periodic absence from court should not be misinterpreted as a withdrawal of support," the statement said.

The parents were joined by their daughter, Susie, as prosecutors and defense lawyers began trying to winnow down a pool of 40 potential jurors to a panel of six.

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda asked the group if any had been victims of a crime, and 14 said they had. Four of those said they had been victims of violent crime, and one said she would not be able to put aside her own experience.

"It's very similar," the woman said of the crime.

"It's always on my mind," she added.

Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for shooting Martin, 17, during a confrontation in Sanford, Fla., the night of Feb. 26, 2012. He says that the unarmed teen attacked him and he fired his gun in self-defense.

Robert Zimmerman Jr.'s statement said his family believes his account.

"We are all sympathetic to the tragic reality of outliving a son or daughter, however... George acted in self-defense, self-defense should not be criminalized & we stand by George because he told the truth," it said.

Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, has appeared in court several times during jury selection. She faces perjury charges in a separate case for allegedly misrepresenting the couple's financial picture during an April 2012 bond hearing. She has pleaded not guilty.

Martin's parents have regularly attended the proceedings.

Editor’s note: George Zimmerman has sued NBCUniversal for defamation. The company has strongly denied his allegations.