April 11, 2012 in Nation/World

Zimmerman attorneys withdraw

Attorneys say they lost contact with client
Kyle Hightower Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Hal Uhrig, right, and Craig Sonner, former attorneys for George Zimmerman, announce that they quit as Zimmerman’s counsel in Sanford, Fla., on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

SANFORD, Fla. – The Trayvon Martin case took a bizarre turn Tuesday when George Zimmerman’s attorneys quit, complaining that they have lost all contact with him and that he called the prosecutor and talked to a TV host after they told him not to speak to anyone.

The lawyers portrayed the former neighborhood watch captain as erratic and his mental state as shaky, and they expressed fear for his health under the pressure that has been building in the month since he shot and killed Martin, an unarmed black teenager.

“As of the last couple days he has not returned phone calls, text messages or emails,” attorney Craig Sonner said at a news conference outside the courthouse. “He’s gone on his own. I’m not sure what he’s doing or who he’s talking to. I cannot go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman and this case as representing him because I’ve lost contact with him.”

The split came as special prosecutor Angela Corey neared a decision on whether to charge Zimmerman with a crime in the Feb. 26 shooting. That decision could come later this week, as Corey released a brief statement late Tuesday saying she would make an announcement about the case within 72 hours.

Sonner and colleague Hal Uhrig said they had not spoken with Zimmerman since Sunday. Since then, they said, they had learned that he spoke to Corey’s office and to Fox TV host Sean Hannity without consulting them, in an attempt to give his side of the shooting. They said Corey refused to talk to Zimmerman without his attorneys’ consent and Hannity wouldn’t tell them what was discussed.

Zimmerman also set up his own website even as the lawyers were creating one for him at his request. Zimmerman said on his website that he wants “to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.” The site allows visitors to give Zimmerman money for living expenses and legal bills.

Sonner and Uhrig said that they still believe in Zimmerman’s innocence and that they would probably represent him again if he contacted them and requested it.

They said Zimmerman has been under extreme pressure and is basically alone, having gone underground because of the furor.

“This has been a terribly corrosive process. George Zimmerman, in our opinion, and from information made available to us, is not doing well emotionally, probably suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. We understand from others that he may have lost a lot of weight,” Uhrig said.

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