Martin case: Shooter 'emotionally crippled'

2012-04-11 14:13
Sanford - The neighbourhood watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has been so "emotionally crippled" by the racially charged case that he may no longer be in control of his actions, his attorneys said on Tuesday.

Lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said they had not heard from George Zimmerman since Sunday and that they could no longer claim to act as his legal representatives, since he had failed to take their phone calls or respond to emails since Sunday and had taken several recent actions without their advice.

Among other actions, they said Zimmerman had taken the unusual step on Tuesday of trying to personally contact Angela Corey, the special prosecutor who is handling his case and investigating the 26 February killing of 17-year-old Martin.

Uhrig, seeking to explain what he described as Zimmerman's erratic behaviour, said his client had been "emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case" which has sparked a nationwide public outcry.

"This has been a terribly corrosive process," said Uhrig, who bridled at claims from civil rights activists and streets filled with indignant protesters that Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, was a racist who had gunned down an innocent African American youth in a case of racial profiling that turned suddenly tragic.

"George Zimmerman, in our opinion and from information made available to us, is not doing well emotionally," Uhrig said.

"He may not be in complete control of what's going on. We're concerned for his emotional and physical safety," he added.

Uhrig and Sonner spoke at a news conference outside the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Florida, the town where Martin was killed.

Protests

Both lawyers said they had never met face-to-face with Zimmerman, but had been in regular contact with him before Sunday.

"He's gone on his own," Sonner said of Zimmerman, "I'm not sure what he's doing and who he's talking to," he said.

He did not elaborate on the suggestion that Zimmerman had somehow gone rogue, after contacting a high-profile TV journalist and starting up a website to raise money for his legal defence.

But Uhrig disclosed for the first time that Zimmerman was in hiding somewhere outside of Florida after the shooting triggered protests calling for his arrest.

That prompted Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the Martin family, to say he believed Zimmerman was now a flight risk.

"Certainly, at this point he is [a flight risk]," Crump told Reuters. "Nobody knows where he's at. He could leave the United States," he said.

"The family is really concerned that the killer of their son is unaccountable. Nobody knows where he is. They are really concerned about whether Zimmerman will ever be brought to justice."

Prosecutor seen moving quickly

Corey, the special prosecutor, said in a statement that she would hold a news conference sometime later this week to discuss "new information" about the case but said nothing about Zimmerman's whereabouts or emotional state.

Shortly before her statement was issued, Uhrig said he expected Corey to announce a decision in the case soon. Any legal filings in the case, including possible charges from the special prosecutor, would initially be filed in the Seminole County court, he said.

Uhrig and Sonner said Zimmerman's attempt to phone Corey and speak to her directly on Tuesday was rejected out of hand by her office because he did so without legal counsel.

Zimmerman told police he shot Martin in self-defence. He has not been charged in the case and Sanford police said they found no evidence to contradict his account.

Police cited Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force against adversaries when they fear great bodily harm or death.

The decision by Zimmerman's lawyers to openly question his behaviour, and announce that they were no longer representing him unless specifically asked to do otherwise, marked the latest twist in a case that has captured national attention because of race and Florida's controversial self-defence laws.

The website launched on Monday by Zimmerman, called therealgeorgezimmerman.com, offers one of the first publicly available comments from Zimmerman since he went into hiding after the shooting on Feb. 26.

"I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage," Zimmerman said.

"This case continues to get stranger as it goes on," said David Weinstein, a former Florida state and federal prosecutor now in private practice in Miami.

Joe Tacopina, a New York lawyer who has handled a number of high-profile criminal defences, said he would also drop a client that acted without his knowledge in the manner described by Zimmerman's attorneys. But he faulted them for holding a press conference to address Zimmerman's mental state.

"You're not supposed to air attorney-client disputes via press conference," Tacopina said.

"The lawyers may be overwhelmed by the scrutiny of this case as much as the defendant," he added.

Read more on:    trayvon martin  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike

Watch this insane drift contest with four-times dirt-track World champion Karl Maier riding a speedway bike against a BMW M235i.

 
 

Men24.com

Want to start talking dirty?
Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.