Continued from page 1

Mr. Sonner, the first lawyer Mr. Zimmerman contacted after the shooting, said he agreed to take the case on a pro bono basis until Mr. Zimmerman is perhaps charged. He said he has never talked to Zimmerman face to face, only on the phone, and that the 28-year-old Mr. Zimmerman has gone into hiding but that he believes he’s still in the United States.

Both attorneys said they’d be willing to represent him again if he asks.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Martin’s family, said they’re concerned that Mr. Zimmerman could be a flight risk if he is charged with a crime since his former attorneys don’t know how to contact him.

“At this point, we’re just concerned that nobody knows where he is at. Nobody knows how to get to him,” Mr. Crump said.

Meanwhile, tensions were rising in Sanford as townspeople awaited the prosecutor’s decision. Someone shot up an unoccupied police car early Tuesday as it sat outside the neighborhood where Martin was killed. And a demonstration by college students closed the town’s police station Monday.

Some residents said they worry there will be violence if Ms. Corey decides not to charge Mr. Zimmerman. Many in town believe she will announce her decision soon.

Police aren’t saying what, if any, precautions they are taking.

Mr. Zimmerman set up a website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, to collect money from his supporters, but the attorneys didn’t know about it until they started getting questions from the news media, Mr. Sonner said. They had worked with his father and others to set up a different account, and when they started getting questions about the new site, Mr. Uhrig assumed it was “bogus.”

Since then, they have determined the site is legitimate.

Mr. Sonner said he stands behind his statements that Mr. Zimmerman did act in self-defense, but he said, “I just can’t proceed to represent a client who doesn’t stay in contact with me.”

Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney in Miami, said it is unusual for attorneys to hold a news conference to explain why they no longer are representing a client.

“The lawyers have every right to withdraw, but it’s highly unusual, and it will be controversial, for counsel to describe their client’s erratic behavior,” said Mr. Coffey, who is now in private practice. “In the court of public opinion, the press conference was not helpful for GeorgeZimmerman.”

Speaking Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show, Mr. Sonner and Mr. Uhrig defended going public with their decision to stop representing Mr. Zimmerman, saying they didn’t feel it was right to speak for him when they weren’t in touch with him. Mr. Sonner also said Mr. Zimmerman was hiding in a place “where he won’t be found.”