- Special prosecutor Angela Corey says she will release new information within 3 days
- Zimmerman lawyers resign in public press conference
- “This is frankly one of the most outrageous things I’ve witnessed,” legal expert says
- Attorney for parents of slain teen says family is concerned Zimmerman may be a flight risk
By the CNN Wire Staff
SANFORD, Florida (CNN) — The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case says she will release new information soon, an announcement that came the same day George Zimmerman’s attorneys made the bombshell statement that they were resigning.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey said Tuesday she will hold a news conference within the next three days to release information on the controversial shooting case.
Corey’s declaration came after the news conference where Zimmerman’s attorneys said they have lost contact with him and no longer represent the neighborhood watch volunteer, who authorities say fatally shot an unarmed teenager in Sanford.
“He has gone on his own. I’m not sure what he’s doing or who he’s talking to,” said now-former legal adviser Craig Sonner. “If he wants us to come back as counsel, he will contact us.”
Sonner, who said the attorneys last were in touch with Zimmerman on Sunday, spoke to reporters in Florida with attorney Hal Uhrig.
Uhrig said Zimmerman had, on his own, called Sean Hannity of Fox News and the office of the special prosecutor appointed to lead the investigation.
“One of the things every defense attorney tells his client is don’t talk to the prosecutors. Don’t talk to the cops. Frankly, don’t talk to anybody until we get control of the situation, and do it through counsel,” said Uhrig, adding that he was concerned about his former client’s “emotional and physical safety.”
He said Zimmerman was “probably suffering from post-traumatic stress.”
Uhrig also seemed to suggest that Zimmerman had left the state of Florida.
“You can stop looking in Florida,” he said. “Look much farther away than that.”
About Zimmerman, Sonner would say only, “He’s in the United States.”
“I still believe that he was acting in self-defense that night. Nothing that I’ve said about him, or this case, has changed in any way,” he said.
Uhrig similarly defended his former client on CNN’s “AC360˚” Tuesday night.
“We believe in his case; we believe in his innocence. We were prepared to defend him all the way. But we simply cannot defend somebody who won’t communicate with us and who is off the reservation talking to people we’ve advised him not to talk to,” he said.
Tuesday night, Hannity confirmed he was in fact contacted by someone he believes was Zimmerman. They spoke on the phone and Hannity agreed not to report on the “contents of that conversation,” he said.
Legal experts called the public resignation of Zimmerman’s attorneys stunning.
“Oh, my God. This is just a train wreck of proportions I don’t even know where to begin,” said Mark Geragos, a prominent defense attorney “Who are you to be diagnosing your client’s mental state when you haven’t talked to him? This is inexplicable. I felt like I was watching a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit. I don’t like to second-guess other lawyers in the eye of the storm. But this is frankly one of the most outrageous things I’ve witnessed.”
Jose Baez, a defense attorney in the high-profile Casey Anthony case, agreed and said Zimmerman’s attorneys could have violated attorney-client privilege provisions.
“It’s unbelievable you’d get on television and talk about your client’s mental state,” said Baez. “The things you learn in the process of representing the client is confidential. Any conversation they had or nonconversations they had with George Zimmerman are completely protected. And the holder of this privilege is George Zimmerman, not the attorneys.”
Sunny Hostin, a former prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst, said Zimmerman’s lawyers’ statements could hurt his case.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Hostin. “As a prosecutor you’re looking at a case, and now I’m worried. Is George Zimmerman a flight risk? Can I get to him if I have to issue an arrest warrant? Maybe now I’m going to bring charges a little more quickly. And so this really harms George Zimmerman in the eyes of a prosecutor.”
Zimmerman’s attorneys responded to some of the criticism early Wednesday morning.
“We don’t think we’ve done anything improper or illegal or anything to hurt George Zimmerman,” said Uhrig. “To characterize what we did as quitting perhaps is not entirely accurate. We simply wanted to acknowledge the fact under the circumstances we could not ethically continue to tell the press or anybody else that we’re still representing him.”
The attorneys said they did not violate attorney-client privilege because they were just providing information that was already out in the public or information that was known by others.
Both attorneys said they still believe that Zimmerman is innocent, but acknowledged that their former client still had not contacted them even after their news conference.
Although details of the February 26 shooting remain murky, what is known is that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an African-American, ventured out from his father’s fiancee’s home in Sanford to get a snack at a nearby convenience store.
As he walked back with a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea, he was shot and killed by Zimmerman, who is Hispanic and who had called 911 to complain about a suspicious person in the neighborhood, according to authorities.
Zimmerman told Sanford police the shooting was in self-defense. The fact that he has not been charged with a crime has provoked demonstrations and calls for his arrest.
Martin’s death has triggered a nationwide debate about race in America and Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury.
An attorney for Martin’s family, Benjamin Crump, expressed concern that Zimmerman’s lawyers said they did not know his whereabouts. If Zimmerman is charged, then authorities will need to find him to hold him accountable, Crump said. “He’s a flight risk,” he said. “Right now, we’re concerned about that.”
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, predicted that both she and Zimmerman himself would be better off if he were arrested. “I think it will be a sense of relief on both ends,” she told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “He will have a chance to have his day in court, where he can plea for his self-defense, if that’s what he wants to use. But we just want him to be arrested so that he can come before a judge and jury.”
CNN’s Martin Savidge contributed to this report.
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