SANFORD, Fla., April 10, 2012 -- A special prosecutor promised "new information regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation" within 72 hours, prompting speculation that the alleged shooter, George Zimmerman, could be charged soon.
The announcement that the prosecutor, State Attorney Angela Corey, would soon hold a news conference came just hours after Zimmerman's lawyers said they would no longer represent him.
Corey said Monday that she will not present the case to a grand jury; she retains the power to decide herself whether to press charges against Zimmerman in the shooting.
Zimmerman's lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said today they were withdrawing from the case because they had lost contact with Zimmerman, who is refusing to answer their calls, texts and emails.
"We're not taking the position that we're leaving him," said one of the lawyers at a press conference this afternoon. "Communication can't be one way. ... I can't hold myself out as the attorney of record at this point. It wouldn't be ethical for me. ... That's why I'm stepping back."
Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Martin, a black, unarmed Miami 17-year-old, Feb. 26, after following him for several minutes.
The lawyers said they had not spoken to Zimmerman since Sunday, after they set up a website with his father for his legal defense. The following day, Zimmerman announced a separate website that surprised the lawyers.
Sonner said there were "lots of things going on that I don't know about," including Zimmerman speaking to Fox TV's Sean Hannity off the record and calling Corey.
"We were a bit astonished," Uhrig said referring to Zimmerman's call to the special prosecutor. He said the prosecutor's office declined to speak to Zimmerman without his lawyers, but Zimmerman replied that they were merely his legal advisers, Uhrig said.
The two lawyers said they were concerned about Zimmerman, who they described as isolated.
"He can't go out to a 7/11 to buy a Diet Coke. There's a bounty out there," Uhrig said.
The lawyer suggested that Zimmerman was probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Perhaps the pressure has pushed him over the edge," Uhrig said. The attorney suggested Zimmerman may not be handling the pressure and has lost weight.
He also said that Zimmerman was not in Florida, saying, "You can stop looking for him in Florida. Look much further than that."
They also admitted that they had yet to meet Zimmerman in person.
"He is in hiding and it was better for him to stay in hiding... There were death threats," Uhrig said.
Both lawyers said they still stood by their belief that Zimmerman had shot Martin in self-defense.
"We frankly believe that the correct decision would be not to charge him," Sonner said. "We hope for the best for George Zimmerman."
The case has become an emotional focal point with heated rhetoric from both sides, prompting Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett today to describe the town as a "kindling box."