World News‎ > ‎

Attorneys for Trayvon Martin shooter Zimmerman withdraw from case

posted 10 Apr 2012, 16:29 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 10 Apr 2012, 16:30 ]

Zimmerman's defense team withdraws from the case saying they have lost contact with him.

SANFORD, FLORIDA UNTIED STATES (APRIL 10. 20120 (NBC) - George Zimmerman's lawyers withdrew from his defense on Tuesday (April 10) after the man who shot and killed an unarmed black Florida teenager telephoned prosecutors directly, contacted a television journalist and set up a website all without their knowledge.

Defense lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said they lost contact with their client on Sunday and were concerned for his mental and physical health following a wave a protests across the country that have demanded Zimmerman's arrest for the death of Trayvon Martin, 17.

"We have lost contact with him," Sonner told a news conference outside the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Florida, the town where Martin was shot.

Hal Uhrig told reporters "We're not taking the position that we're leaving him. We are open to George Zimmerman, but he's got to reach out to us. Communication can't be one way."

The decision by the lawyers to step down marks the latest twist in a case that has captured national attention because of race and Florida's controversial self-defense laws. Martin was black and Zimmerman is white and Hispanic.

Zimmerman, 28, has not been charged in the case and has been in hiding since the shooting incident exploded into the public consciousness. Sonner and Uhrig declined on Tuesday to say where Zimmerman was except to say he was in the United States.

The lawyers said they would return to representing Zimmerman if he were to reach out and request their services. For the time being, however, both attorneys said they were concerned he was taking action in the case without their advice.

They said they were particularly concerned that Zimmerman had telephoned the special prosecutor's office and offered to answer questions. The prosecutor's office told the attorneys about Zimmerman's call and said they declined to meet or speak with him without his legal representation.

Sanford police declined to arrest Zimmerman after the shooting, saying they found no evidence to contradict his account that he acted in self-defense. Police cited Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force against adversaries when they fear great bodily harm or death.