SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman’s former attorneys say the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is said to be losing weight and suffering from high levels of stress from the intense public scrutiny he is under. Meanwhile, a special prosecutor said she soon will make an announcement in the case.
“He is largely alone. You might even say he is emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case,” said Hal Uhrig, a former lawyer for Mr. Zimmerman. The protests and the profound isolation of going into hiding may have pushed him “a little bit over the edge,” said Mr. Uhrig and his colleague, Craig Sonner.
The two lawyers announced Tuesday they no longer were representing the neighborhood watch volunteer because they haven’t heard from him since Sunday.
“As of the last couple days, he has not returned phone calls, text messages or emails,” Mr. Sonner said. “He’s gone on his own. I’m not sure what he’s doing or who he’s talking to. I cannot go forward speaking to the public about GeorgeZimmerman and this case as representing him because I’ve lost contact with him.”
Against their advice, the attorneys said Mr. Zimmerman contacted special prosecutor Angela Corey, who will decide if he should face charges, but prosecutors in her office refused to talk to him without his lawyers present.
“To handle it this way suggests that he may not be in complete control of what’s going on. We’re concerned for his emotional and physical safety,” Mr. Uhrig said.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Corey’s office didn’t respond to phone and email messages requesting comment, although late Tuesday Ms. Corey released a statement saying she would make an announcement on the case within 72 hours. The statement did not specify what new development in the case would be released.
Mr. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after following the teenager in a Sanford, Fla. a gated community outside Orlando on Feb. 26. He said he was returning to his truck when Martin attacked him and that he shot the unarmed teen during the fight. He wasn’t arrested partly because of Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.
Mr. Zimmerman is unable to see a psychologist because he could be spotted. A bounty for his arrest has been issued by the New Black Panther Party. Plus, he is anxious about possible charges if the special prosecutor believes he committed a crime, his former attorneys said.
Mr. Zimmerman also has been in touch with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, who declined to reveal Tuesday evening what was said.
Mr. Uhrig said after they found out that news, the “final straw” came when they learned Mr. Zimmerman had contacted Ms. Corey’s office and said he wanted to meet. Mr. Uhrig said Mr. Zimmerman told her he no longer had attorneys, whom he called “legal advisers,” representing him.
Mr. Uhrig said he and Mr. Sonner were “a bit astonished” that Mr. Zimmerman had contacted Ms. Corey on his own and that she and her team refused to talk to a potential defendant or suspect without counsel.
Mr. Zimmerman‘s current lack of an attorney shouldn’t affect the speed of Ms. Corey’s decision-making since any decent lawyer would advise a client not to talk to prosecutors, said Roy Kahn, a defense attorney in Miami.
“It would not be in a client’s best interest to give any statement before it’s his time to testify at trial,” Mr. Kahn said. “Even if I believe he’s 100 percent innocent … my advice to the client would be: ‘Save it for the trial. It can’t help you.’”