The lawyers for the neighbourhood watch captain who shot Trayvon Martin in February said they are withdrawing as his counsel because he hasn’t followed their legal advice and they have not heard from him in several days.
Attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said during a news conference Tuesday that they haven’t heard from George Zimmerman since Sunday, and their calls and text messages haven’t been returned.
Sonner said: ‘I just can’t proceed to represent a client who doesn’t stay in contact with me’.
Uhrig added that the attorneys ‘started reaching out in every way that we knew how to get him,’ but to no avail.
Zimmerman is currently in hiding, and while Sonner and Uhrig claim they don’t know where he is, it’s far away from Florida.
Uhrig said: ‘You can stop looking in Florida, you can look much further away from that’.
They added that Zimmerman had contacted the special prosecutor who will decide if he should face charges, a move they said went against their legal advice.
He also contacted Fox News host Sean Hannity without his attorney’s knowledge or approval. The details surrounding that call were not immediately known.
Zimmerman is at the centre of an investigation over the shooting of Martin, 17, who was killed on February 26 as he was returning from a convenience store to his father’s fiancee’s house.
Zimmerman has claimed he shot Martin in self-defence after following him in a gated community in Sanford, Florida.
Martin, who was unarmed, was black. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic.
The lack of an arrest has inspired nationwide protests and some claims of racial profiling, which Zimmerman’s supporters deny.
Sonner urged the media and public to not jump to conclusions about this case.
He said: ‘Put the facts together and I think you’ll see it comes together as a self-defence case’.
Both attorneys expressed belief that Zimmerman acted in self-defence in his encounter with Martin.
On Sunday, a website was set up with a statement from Zimmerman where he claimed he has been ‘forced to leave my home… and ultimately my entire life’ as a result of the media outcry over Trayvon’s shooting.
The site also features a number of quotations from writers and philosophers which are apparently used as justification for Zimmerman’s behaviour.
After the existence of TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com came to light on Monday afternoon, the site received so much traffic that it became difficult to access.
The site’s creation comes as it has been revealed that Zimmerman will not face a grand jury in the Trayvon case, with the decision whether or not to prosecute him left to a special prosecutor alone.
While his father and brother have spoken out to defend him, he has not granted any interviews himself.
His new website – whose authenticity has been confirmed by his attorneys – contains a statement referring to a ‘life-altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage’.
He continues: ‘As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life.
‘This website’s sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries’.
Zimmerman goes on to criticise other so-called ‘defence funds’, which he says have not provided any revenue to him.
The statement on the homepage concludes: ‘I have created a Paypal account solely linked on this website as I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally and ensure that any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defence, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment.
‘I will also personally, maintain accountability of all funds received. I reassure you, every donation is appreciated.’
The site also contains a section titled ‘The Facts’, in which Zimmerman insists that he ‘cannot discuss the details of the event on February 26th’.
Under the heading ‘My Race’, Zimmerman – who is half Hispanic, half white – quotes Thomas Paine saying: ‘The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.’
A section headed ‘Album’ features a photograph of graffiti reading ‘Long live Zimmerman’ which was notoriously painted on the wall of a black cultural centre at Ohio State University.
Every page of the site features Edmund Burke’s famous statement that ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing,’ as well as a link to Zimmerman’s PayPal account.
On the night of Martin’s death, Zimmerman, who was patrolling in the Sanford gated community, called 911 to report a suspicious person.
‘This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something,’ Zimmerman told the dispatcher from his sport utility vehicle.
He added that the teen had his hand in his waistband and was walking around looking at homes.
‘These a*******. They always get away,’ Zimmerman said on a 911 call.
But Martin, 17, was not armed. He was returning from a convenience store with an iced tea for himself and a bag of skittles for his little brother.
A neighbour said there had been several break-ins in the community in the past year, including one in which burglars took a TV and laptops.
A dispatcher told Zimmerman to stay in his sport utility vehicle and that an officer would be there momentarily, but Zimmerman – for unknown reasons – got out.
Zimmerman told police he lost sight of the teenager and was walking back to his sport utility vehicle when he was suddenly attacked.
But Trayvon’s girlfriend Deedee, 16, who was on the phone with Trayvon in his last moments alive, emerged Wednesday to add more contradiction to Zimmerman’s story.
She told ABC News in a brief interview that Trayvon said he saw a strange man following him as he walked back to his father’s home.
‘… and then Trayvon come and said the man was still behind him and I said to him, “Run!”‘ the teen said.
He and Martin fought, according to witnesses.
Zimmerman said Martin punched him in the nose and slammed his head against the ground.
Zimmerman’s father Robert Zimmerman echoed those remarks on Wednesday night, telling WOFL-TV his son was being beaten by Trayvon, and the teen threatened him during the scuffle.
He told the network: ‘Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of “you’re going to die now or you’re going to die tonight,” something to that effect’.
He added: ‘[Martin] continued to beat George and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did’.
Zimmerman told cops he acted in self-defense, and that he had yelled for help before firing the gun.
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