George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin, has broken contact with his lawyers, prompting them to withdraw from the case on Tuesday. According to an Associated Press report, the lawyers say they last heard from Zimmerman on Sunday, and were dismayed that he disregarded their advice to avoid talking about the case.
Since Zimmerman’s last conversation with his lawyers on Sunday, he has contacted radio and TV host Sean Hannity, set up a website to collect donations for his defense at TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com, and tried to arrange a meeting with special prosecutor Angela Corey.
Hannity said he had been pursuing Zimmerman for an interview, and believes he was speaking to the real George Zimmerman, but it was an off-the-record call, and he will not report on the contents of the conversation. Corey refused to speak with Zimmerman unless his attorneys were present.
Zimmerman’s lawyers, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, held an unusual press conference to announce their resignation. Video courtesy of the Associated Press:
Sonner said that he still believes Zimmerman has a valid self-defense claim, and would be willing to continue representing him, but “I cannot go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman and this case as representing him because I’ve lost contact with him.”
Uhrig said that he believes Zimmerman “is not doing well emotionally” and is “probably suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.” He found this understandable, because “George can’t get in a car and drive down to some office center to go in and see the psychologist. There’s a bounty out on his head, whether it’s believed to be real or not, it’s out there.”
The L.A. Times reports that neither lawyer has ever met Zimmerman in person, and they have not been paid anything for their efforts thus far.
According to the Associated Press, the attorneys don’t know Zimmerman’s exact whereabouts. They believe he remains in the United States, but is no longer in Florida. Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney, “said they’re concerned that Zimmerman could be a flight risk if he is charged with a crime, since his ex-attorneys don’t know how to contact him.”
On Tuesday, the special prosecutor said she would make a major announcement about the case within the next three days. Zimmerman’s ex-attorneys said at their press conference that they interpreted her refusal to convene a grand jury as a sign that she would not press charges, although many other legal experts warned that no such conclusion should be drawn.