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7:26 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Zimmerman's Attorneys Withdraw As Counsel

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

In Sanford, Florida, there's been a new development in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Late today, attorneys for the admitted shooter, George Zimmerman, said they are no longer representing him. Attorney Craig Sonner says they haven't spoken to Zimmerman since Sunday.

CRAIG SONNER: We've lost contact with him. Up to this point, we've had contact every day. He's gone on his own. I don't - I'm not sure what he's doing or who he's talking to. But at this point, we're withdrawing his counsel.

SIEGEL: Joining us from Sanford is NPR's Kathy Lohr. She was at today's news conference. And, Kathy, Zimmerman's lawyers say they haven't spoken with him, but I gather they have other concerns as well. What are those?

KATHY LOHR, BYLINE: That's right. Both Craig Sonner and the attorney Hal Uhrig says they haven't talked to him for a couple of days and that he just stopped returning phone calls, text messages, emails, basically any kind of communication. They also cite the fact that they're - despite their advice against it, Zimmerman has been in contact with a lot of people, including the state prosecutor's office and some people in the media. They say that they're also involved in this new website that George Zimmerman has apparently put out, and that there was a mix-up over the website, how it was administered. They say that Zimmerman called Fox News directly to talk to some of the folks there.

And I guess the final decision today is that they said that they spoke with the special prosecutor's office in Jacksonville, and they were told that Zimmerman contacted that prosecutor directly and said that basically they were not his attorneys, just his legal advisers. I'm not sure what the difference is, neither or they. But they said today it's not so much they're resigning, but they announced that they can't represent him until George Zimmerman contacts them.

SIEGEL: Kathy, what about Zimmerman's case? He hasn't been charged with any crime at this point. Did the lawyers say that they think it would be difficult to represent Zimmerman's claim of self-defense in the shooting of Trayvon Martin?

LOHR: Absolutely not. In fact, they say he still has a very strong self-defense case, so he hasn't been charged. But they say the evidence shows that Zimmerman had followed Trayvon Martin who - but he was walking back to his car that night, back in February, and that actually Trayvon was the attacker, that he hit Zimmerman, that he broke Zimmerman's nose, and then he was pounding Zimmerman's head on the ground. And they said it was clear that Zimmerman acted in self-defense that night.

SIEGEL: I gather they brought up the issue of race once again. What do they have to say?

LOHR: Well, the attorney Hal Uhrig strongly stressed that George Zimmerman is not a racist. And he said that race had absolutely nothing to do with the shooting that night. He says it was not racial profiling, just that there had been crimes in the neighborhood, and that Zimmerman was acting in his role as a good neighborhood watch volunteer when he was looking to see who was in the neighborhood that night.

Also, basically, they just say they want their client to get back in touch with them, and they urged him to do that. And they say, you know, if that happens that they will represent him again.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Kathy.

LOHR: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Kathy Lohr in Sanford, Florida. One other development this evening regarding the special prosecutor who must decide whether to bring charges against Zimmerman. Angela Corey announced that she'll hold a news conference in the next 72 hours. She says new information will be released about the investigation, but Corey gave no details. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.