George Zimmerman attorneys quit as counsel

Update [6:27pm ET]: This story will be updated as new events unfold

  • Zimmerman's attorneys announced they have "lost contact" with Zimmerman and are withdrawing as counsel

  • Attorneys say they still believe former client is innocent and acted in self-defense

  • Engage in heated discussion with the press, say Zimmerman is "victim" of press attacks

In a highly contentious press conference, attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig announced they have withdrawn as counsel for George Zimmerman, who remains under intense scrutiny for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

"It's no so much that we are resigning. It's that we cannot continue to represent him until he comes forward," said attorney Craig Sonner.

Sonner and Uhrig say they have been unable to contact Zimmerman since Sunday, when he stopped returning their phone calls.

"He's not returning my messages not returning my texts not returning my emails. He won't even give me a collect call," Sonner said.

However, both attorneys said they would be willing to resume their representation of Zimmerman if he contacts them directly.

"He's got to reach out to us," added co-counsel Hal Uhrig.

The press conference than took an unusual twist, with Uhrig essentially trying the case before the gathered members of the press. Both attorneys stressed that they continue to believe Zimmerman acted in self-defense, while Uhrig criticized both the press and Martin himself.

Going after the press directly, Uhrig said, "If you don't believe this has been crouched in racial terms, you're not watching the same media, the same TV, reading the same blogs." In an unfortunate choice of words, Uhrig added, "I'm taking a shot at the press when I say this."

Uhrig then directed criticism at the now-deceased Martin, alleging that his own actions were to blame for Zimmerman shooting him.

"Whoever decided to turn it from a war of words into a war of fists does so at their own peril," Uhrig said. "We frankly believe the correct decision will be to not charge him [Zimmerman]," Uhrig said.

"The first person that swung, as far as we can tell, was Trayvon Martin," Uhrig said. "The crime was battery against George Zimmerman."

"People are saying, how can you shoot an unarmed man? You know what, an unarmed man can kill you if he keeps doing what he's doing," Uhrig said. "I don't care what one investigator thought. They're often wrong."

The attorneys say they know of Zimmerman's location and have access to his personal phone number. "We've been able to handle the case by phone up this point," Sonner said. "But there were face-t0-face meeting scheduled."

Attempting to justify working on the case without direct, physical access to their former client, Uhrig said, "George can't go out and buy a Diet Coke. There's a bounty on his head."

Both attorneys repeatedly refused to reveal Zimmerman's location but insinuated that he is no longer in Florida. "You can stop looking in Florida. Look much further away than that," Uhrig said.

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