George Zimmerman's attorneys have said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that they are no longer representing him. They said they were quitting because they have lost contact with him and he has repeatedly rebuffed legal advice offered to him.
Huffington Post reports Craig Sonner, one of Zimmerman's attorneys, said: "As of now we are withdrawing as counsel for Mr. Zimmerman. We've lost contact with him. Up to this point, we've had contact with him everyday. He's gone on his own. I'm not sure what he's doing or who he's talking to, but at this point we're withdrawing as counsel. If he wants us to come back as counsel, he will contact us."
Sonner said he remained convinced that Zimmerman acted in self-defense. Huffington Post reports he said: "Nothing that I've said about him or this case has changed in any way."
CNN reports attorney Hal Uhrig said Zimmerman's account of his confrontation with Trayvon Martin on February 26 was that after he approached Martin and asked him what he was doing, Martin turned aggressive and hit him in the nose. According to the attorneys, Martin committed a crime of battery against Zimmerman that night.
Uhrig said though they still believed that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, they were forced to stop representing him because he stopped responding to their calls and they have no information on his whereabouts. They said they believed he was no longer in Florida.
Uhrig said that last Thursday, they helped Robert Zimmerman, George's father, set up a website to allow him solicit donations for his son's legal defense. On the day before the website was supposed to go life, they were unable to reach him. The attorneys explained they had completed all arrangements for the site and made the site address available to media outlets. Mercury News reports Zimmerman set up another website on his own: therealgoergezimmerman.com.
Uhrig explained: "On Sunday we lost track of George in that he wouldn't return our phone calls, and we couldn't get hold of him. We had no reason at that time to believe that it was anything suspect. But on Monday we began fielding questions...did we know anything about...georgezimmerman.com Web site? And our initial response was, well that's probably bogus, we don't know anything about that. And we started making inquiries and frankly confirmed that he through friends or family had in fact set that site up and it was legitimate. We immediately began telling the media, disregard the earlier web site we gave you that we had set up. Go for the one we now know that he set up."
Uhrig continued: "We were happy enough with that, but disturbed that he had not communicated with us. We learned that he had called Sean Hannity of Fox News directly — not through us. We believe that he spoke directly with Sean off the record and [Hannity's] not even willing to tell us what our client told him."
According to Uhrig, they finally decided to quit as attorneys when a move to set up a meeting with Zimmerman and the special prosecutor in his case, Angela Corey, ran into problems after Zimmerman contacted the prosecutor on his own. Uhrig said: "We were a bit astonished and had some conversation back and forth with the prosecutor's office. They told us what we expected, [that they] were not going to talk to a criminal or [defendant] without counsel."
The attorneys, according to CNN, speculated that the pressure might have pushed Zimmerman "a little over the edge," and led him to take the decision to take care of himself. But Uhrig said: "Our thought process is, we're professionals. We do this for a living. We try to do a good job of it, but we are not going to put ourselves out to the public ... unless he makes it clear to us that he wants us as his lawyers."
NY Magazine reports Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner said that Zimmerman was "not doing well emotionally." This, they suggested, may be partly because Zimmerman "watches more of [the press coverage of his case] every day than he should."
At the press conference, Uhrig criticized the press over their coverage of the case. He condemned civil rights groups and activists who were involved in the case and defended the state's "Stand Your Ground" law. Uhrig said: "The gun law is a good law because it gives honest citizens the right to carry a weapon."