In a totally unexpected twist to a case that has gripped many parts of the world, defense attorneys for George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch captain who fatally shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin this past February, have withdrawn from the case after Zimmerman directly contacted prosecutors, a TV journalist and set up a website without their knowledge, Reuters is reporting. The attorneys also claim to have lost contact with their now-former client.
Lawyers Craig Sonner and Mark Uhrig said at a press conference that they lost contact with their client on Sunday (April 8) and that they were concerned with his mental and physical health after the swell of controversy and furor over the case.
The Miami Herald reports that while his own lawyers haven’t heard from him, Zimmerman has placed calls to and consented to answering questions from special prosecutor Angela Corey and Fox News personality Sean Hannity.
“He won’t even give me a collect call,” Sonner said.
The special prosecutor’s office declined speaking with Zimmerman without his legal representation present.
Uhrig says that Zimmerman is distraught and “may not be in control of what is going on,” according to the Herald.
“He probably watches more of this every day than he should,” Uhrig said, referring to the case’s widespread coverage. “He’s emotionally alone, and you might even say emotionally crippled.”
The lawyers said they would return to representing Zimmerman if he reached out to them.
The website, TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com, attempts to solicit funding to be “used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment,” according the site’s homepage. The site’s authenticity has been confirmed by Zimmerman’s former attorneys, who also clarified that the site is separate from the one they reportedly established with Zimmerman’s father. The words on the homepage are Zimmerman’s first public comments since the incident happened on February 26th.
On that night, Zimmerman pursued and eventually shot 17-year-old Martin after noticing the teen walking in his gated community and calling 911 to report him as “suspicious.” Zimmerman followed and confronted Martin despite the emergency operator’s instruction not to. Although Martin was found to be unarmed and was in the community visiting his father who lived there, Zimmerman, 28, contends that he shot the boy in self-defense. Authorities have not yet charged Zimmerman with a crime thanks to Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, a fact that has inspired widespread outrage, rallies, and calls to have the law repealed.