In a stunning development in the Trayvon Martin case, George Zimmerman’s two lawyers held a press conference late Tuesday saying they were quitting his case.
Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner cited Zimmerman’s behavior during the previous few days as the reason. They said he had not been in contact with them except over the phone and he had published a website without their involvement. Both said they were concerned for Zimmerman’s well-being.
They told reporters: “We have lost contact with him, we are not sure what he’s doing.”
Speaking to MSNBC, the lawyer for the Martin family, Benjamin Crump, said the family was very upset to learn from the press conference that Zimmerman was outside Florida and could potentially be a flight risk. Both lawyers said they did not believe that Zimmerman had fled the country.
The lawyers also said that Zimmerman had directly contacted the office of the Florida Special Prosecutor investigating his case — they had refused to speak with him. Uhrig also said that Zimemrman had phoned Fox News host Sean Hannity and spoken with him off the record. Hannity refused to tell Uhrig what Zimmerman had told him.
Sonner and Uhrig suggested that Zimmerman may not be acting independently.
Watch CNN coverage of press conference:
On Monday a website appeared which has been confirmed as belonging to George Zimmerman. None of his legal team was involved with it. The website is appealing for funds for his defense.
Last week, Zimmerman’s defense added Uhrig, a veteran attorney known for his appearances as a legal analyst on the Fox News network last year during the trial of Casey Anthony, who was found not guilty of killing her daughter, Caylee.
Uhrig subsequently made a series of media appearances repeating his client’s story of what happened on February 26th. However, the media work for their client was somewhat undermined by the lawyers’ refusal to answer questions on Piers Morgan’s show on CNN as well as a joint appearance with Zimmerman’s father on Hannity where the father insisted that his son had not followed Trayvon Martin, the opposite of what he had said on March 29th.
A Florida gun lobby and gun rights advocate organization called Legal Boom said last week that they were setting up a legal defense fund for Zimmerman.
The new Zimmerman website — therealgeorgezimmerman.com — says:
It has come to my attention that some persons and/or entities have been collecting funds, thinly veiled as my ‘Defense Fund’ or “Legal Fund”. I cannot attest to the validity of these other websites as I have not received any funds collected, intended to support my family and I through this trying, tragic time.
The lawyers said that they had discussed a website and a legal fund, with a Paypal account controlled Zimmerman’s father, but they were not involved beyond that discussion and were not told when the website was published on Monday.
The website includes a page titled ‘the facts,’ but this does not clarify the varying stories the relatives and lawyers have been giving of what happened February 26th.
It also features a page identifying ‘my supporters,’ with a photo of a vandalized black cultural center at Ohio State University, its wall sprayed with ‘long live Zimmerman,’ and another photo from a rally held by Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones.
On Monday, an unidentified Zimmerman family member wrote to Federal Attorney General Eric Holder asking why members of the fringe New Black Panther (NBP) Party had not been arrested despite their ‘bounty’ on Zimmerman. The letter accuses Holder of not arresting NBP members because Holder is black, attacks other black leaders, including the President and compares Zimmerman to Tom Robinson in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’
The Sanford police has investigated the NBP threats and decided not to take it further.
Also on Monday, Florida student protesters peacefully blocked the front doors of the Sanford Police Department for nearly five hours, leaving after city officials agreed to hold a community forum.
The group called for the arrest of George Zimmerman, as well as the firings of Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr. and Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that a local campaign in support of Lee has been set up and notes participation by relatives of Sanford police officers.
Monday’s protest leaders said they had been called by Special Prosecutor Angela Corey. She told them she was continuing to gather evidence.
Yesterday, Corey announced that she will not take the case to a grand jury.
Sanford PD Protest picture by werthmedia