Lawyers for George Zimmerman said Tuesday afternoon that they had lost contact with the man who fatally shot a Florida teen last month and that they would no longer be representing him.
Attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig announced in a CNN press conference that their last contact with Zimmerman was on Sunday.
Hours earlier, Sonner had confirmed to Reuters that Zimmerman had started a Web site from hiding, offering one of his first public comments since killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in March while making rounds as a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community.
“He is operating this on his own,” Sonner told Reuters. “I can confirm this is his site.”
On therealgeorgezimmerman.com, Zimmerman, 28, wrote: “I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. 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.”
The slaying of the unarmed teenager has grabbed national media attention, igniting outrage and accusations of racism and sparking protests that Zimmerman has not been arrested in the case. Zimmerman maintains that he shot Martin in self-defense after the teenager began attacking him. Members of Martin’s family and their supporters say the shooting was racially motivated. The 16-year-old Martin was black. Zimmerman is white hispanic.
All sides are awaiting a special prosecutor’s decision on whether to charge Zimmerman in the shooting death of Martin. On Monday, special prosecutor Angela Corey said she will not bring the case before a grand jury.
Zimmerman’s attorneys said that they made the decision to step back after Zimmerman created the Web site.
“He’s not returning my texts; he’s not returning my e-mails. I can’t hold myself out as his attorney,” Sonner said.
Uhrig said that he and Sonner had not changed their position on Zimmerman’s account of the shooting and that he should not be charged in Martin’s death.
Zimmerman writes on the Web site that he created it to raise money for his legal defense and living expenses. The site is simple, with links to “The Facts” and “My Race,” both of which include a few famous quotes and a note from Zimmerman that says he cannot discuss the case further.
The site also has a photo album, featuring two photos of graffiti written in support of Zimmerman, and a contacts page and PayPal tab for donations.
Zimmerman’s attorneys have said their client wants to share his story but is fearful for his safety and of possible criminal charges.
Frank Taaffe, who said he is a friend of Zimmerman’s, told CNN sister network HLN that the site’s fundraising does not mean Zimmerman expects to be charged in the killing.
“That has nothing to do with it,” Taaffe told HLN.