Lawyers drop Zimmerman, prosecutor signals movement in case
Lawyers for George Zimmerman announce they will no longer work as his counsel. (Source: CNN)
Zimmerman has launched a website seeking donations and thanking supporters.
Zimmerman is hoping the public will donate to his defense fund. (Source: CNN)
A later photo shows George Zimmerman neatly groomed and wearing a jacket and dress shirt. (Source: Facebook)
(RNN) - Mere hours after the lawyers for admitted shooter George Zimmerman dropped him as a client, the special prosecutor said she would make an announcement about the case by late Friday.
According to AP, special prosecutor Angela Corey did not say what the announcement would be, only that it would happen within 72 hours. Corey said Monday that she alone - not a grand jury - would decide whether Zimmerman would be charged with a crime.
Corey was appointed more than a month after Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed by Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman. Martin was unarmed the night of Feb. 26 when he was reported to emergency operators by Zimmerman as suspicious.
Zimmerman has said he shot Martin in self-defense after he was ambushed, punched in the nose, and had his head slammed into the concrete by the teen. An incident report from the night of the altercation says Zimmerman was bloody and his back was wet and covered with grass, indicating a struggle may have occurred.
Earlier Tuesday, Zimmerman's lawyers called a news conference to say they had lost touch with their client and were withdrawing their counsel.
"He has not returned phone calls or text messages or e-mails, which has led me to believe that I cannot go forward speaking [on his behalf]," Craig Sonner, one of Zimmerman's former attorneys, said before a crowd of journalists assembled for the news conference.
The last time they heard from him was Sunday. However Zimmerman has made contact with at least two people: Fox News host Sean Hannity and the prosecutors office handling the shooting.
"We were quite astonished at that," said Hal Uhrig, another former Zimmerman lawyer.
An attorney for Martin's parents, Benjamin Crump, told CNN they were shocked to hear the news.
"'Oh god, they don't know where he is,'" Crump said.
Uhrig said they do know where Zimmerman is; however, he will not return phone calls from them. He said the neighborhood watch captain is not in Florida, but he is in the U.S.
"We have a pretty good idea of where he is. We have his phone number," Uhrig said. "It goes to voicemail. That's the number he used to contact the prosecutor's office."
Uhrig and Sonner said they helped Zimmerman set up a website to raise funds for his defense with money set to go directly to Zimmerman's father. However, when the attorneys began getting questions from reporters about The Real George Zimmerman website, they realized he had gone off on his own and set up a different website himself.
"We cannot ethically go forward and say we are representing George Zimmerman when he's giving interviews and things, and setting up websites that I don't know about," Sonner said.
Uhrig said he was concerned about Zimmerman's condition, indicating Zimmerman has lost weight and is probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Our fear is not so much about the money. We were initially concerned about the website that someone else had set this up and was taking advantage of the situation. Our concern runs deeper than that," Uhrig said. "This has been a terribly corrosive process."
CNN reporter Ashley Banfield said she was told by Zimmerman's lawyers that he never returned a signed letter affirming the attorneys were representing him.
"They've never been retained. They've never been paid," she said.
Uhrig told reporters that he and Sonner have not met Zimmerman face-to-face, which is not out of the norm in Florida, a state with a high number of tourists who might be in need of legal help.
"It was better for him to stay in hiding and stay safe," Sonner said. "Preferably, we'd meet face-to-face, but it's not absolutely necessary."
A grand jury had been scheduled to meet Tuesday to hear the evidence in the case. However, Corey announced Monday that she would make the decision whether to charge Zimmerman herself.
Both lawyers indicated Tuesday they strongly believe in Zimmerman's innocence, as far as his claims that he acted in self-defense.
"We absolutely stand by everything we've said about this case. We hope for the best for George Zimmerman. We hope for the best for the Martin family," Uhrig said. "He's got to reach out to us. We are his legal representatives. He's got to affirm that. If he does that, we'll help him."
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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