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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

George Zimmerman`s Attorneys Quit

Aired April 10, 2012 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from Los Angeles. A shocking and, indeed, bizarre development in the Trayvon Martin shooting death.

The two lawyers for shooter George Zimmerman hold a wild news conference in front of the courthouse to tell the world they have lost contact with George Zimmerman. They reveal they are worried about his emotional state and actions he has taken without their prior knowledge. So they`ve resigned as his attorneys. What does it all mean?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG SONNER, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I want to announce today as of now we`re withdrawing as counsel for Mr. Zimmerman. We`ve lost contact with him.

HAL UHRIG, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This has been a terribly corrosive process. George Zimmerman, in our opinion, is not doing well emotionally and probably suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOTHER: We`re remaining peaceful and that`s what we ask. We don`t ask that they stop the protests. We just ask that they have a peaceful protest and that they`re able to get their point across without any violence or destruction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: An electronic roadside displayed a message that targeted Trayvon. It calls the teenage boy a racial slur. What`s going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re marching for Trayvon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re marching for Trayvon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re marching for Trayvon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin has now set up a Web site to get part of his story out there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the site, TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com, Zimmerman asks for money for his defense.

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON`S FATHER: If he has a Web site where he`s asking for donations and he`s raising money off of my son`s death.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think it`s appropriate for him to solicit funds? What is the justification?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your two -- your two guests just said this is America. He can do whatever he wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And big news breaking tonight in the Trayvon Martin shooting investigation. Just as we wait to see if George Zimmerman will be arrested for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his lawyers take to the courthouse lawn to announce they`re out in a free-wheeling and some would say very bizarre news conference.

These two lawyers publicly complaining George Zimmerman will not return their phone calls, and that`s not all. They say Zimmerman tried to talk to the special prosecutor on his own today and he launched his new Web site without even telling them.

So I have to ask tonight, is George Zimmerman off the radar and over the edge?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UHRIG: This has been a terribly corrosive process. George Zimmerman, in our opinion and from information made available to us, is not doing well emotionally and probably suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome. We understand from others that he may have lost a lot of weight. George can`t get in the car and drive down to the office center and go in and see a psychologist. George can`t go down to the 7-Eleven and buy a Diet Coke. There`s a bounty out on his head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Zimmerman`s now former lawyers spat out shocker after shocker, saying they believe George Zimmerman isn`t even in the state of Florida anymore, and that while they were his lawyers they had never met him in person.

So tonight, oh, so many big question, but perhaps the biggest: where on earth is the man at the center of a worldwide controversy, George Zimmerman? In response the attorney for the family of the dead teen says they`re now worried George Zimmerman is a flight risk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONNER: As of now we`re withdrawing as counsel with Mr. Zimmerman. We`ve lost contact with him. Up to this point, we`ve had contact every day. He`s gone on his own.

We had contact as of, I believe, Sunday. In the last couple of days we`ve lost -- he has not returned his phone calls or text messages or e- mails, leading me to believe that I can`t go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman and this case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a game changer, because if Zimmerman is on the lam -- and I`m not saying he is, but we don`t know where he is; not in the state of Florida -- how can he be arrested, if that`s what the special prosecutor decides to do?

Why did these two attorneys decide to dump their client in such a public fashion? Couldn`t they just have issued a press release? Was this an attention grab?

This investigation just took a huge turn, people. I`m talking a 180. What do you think happened? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. I`m taking your calls for the hour.

First to Natalie Jackson, the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family: do you think with all this stunning new information from these two attorneys who say they`re now off the case, unless they hear from George Zimmerman that he is now a flight risk?

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN: You know, this press conference was strange to us, because what we have here is -- an issue -- this family has called for justice. This family has not called for a harassment of George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman deserves fair (ph), if he`s having these issues.

There`s two ways to look at this. It could be a calculated thing, or it could be a situation where he deserves our empathy and our sympathy. And if so, this is a praying family, and they`re praying for George. They still want justice, and they still want an arrest, but they are praying for him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think that`s a very big-minded of them and of you, but I have a yes or no question. Do you think George Zimmerman is a flight risk right now, given everything you`ve heard at the press conference?

JACKSON: His attorney said that he was. His attorney said that he was, so, yes, we have a concern about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, my understanding was that he said that he didn`t feel that there was a concern, but, of course, it was a 48-minute news conference so a lot of people could derive whatever they want to derive from it, but my interpretation of it and Jon Lieberman, investigative reporter, correct me if I`m wrong, is that these attorneys said no, we don`t think he`s a flight risk. Your thoughts?

JON LIEBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: It was nothing short of remarkable, Jane. I mean, the one thing that we know for sure is we know that George Zimmerman has gone rogue. He`s stopped returning e-mails and texts from his attorney. Now, here`s the issue about flight risk and the issue about being on the lam.

He`s not charged with anything, and so he`s allowed to leave the state if he so chooses. So, in other words, he`s not a fugitive. He`s not on the lam, and he`s not being actively searched for by law enforcement because, as of this moment, he hasn`t been charged with anything.

Now, however, I believe these lawyers came out today to just publicly distance themselves from George Zimmerman because of all of these, Frankly, bizarre behaviors in the past 48 hours calling a cable news host from another network, calling the prosecutor? I mean, that`s unheard of and all against the will of his former attorneys.

Well, John, you raised perhaps the most significant aspect of this news conference. Back on march 26th, 15 days ago, the special prosecutor, Angela Corey, told me on this show she had not spoken to George Zimmerman just yet. In a head spinner, his former attorneys revealed at this news conference a little while ago that George tried to break that silence on his own today without consulting his then lawyers. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UHRIG: We heard today that George had contacted the prosecutor`s office directly. One of the things every defense attorney tells his client is don`t talk to the prosecutors. Don`t talk to the cops. Frankly, don`t talk to anybody until we get control of the situation and do it through counsel.

They told us what we expected is we`re not going to talk to a criminal potential defendant or a suspect or target of an investigation without counsel. We`re just not going to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to go out now to our guest, Frank Taaffe, George Zimmerman`s former neighbor and one of his few defenders.

Frank, this is what`s extraordinary. They say they`ve been trying to reach him since Sunday, that they reached out yesterday to him without success. You were on our show yesterday, talking exclusively to us, telling us you were talking to George. So he`s talking to you at length, but he is not talking to his own attorneys. Did you get an inkling yesterday when you were talking to George that he was avoiding his attorneys?

FRANK TAAFFE, FRIEND AND SUPPORTER OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: No, Jane. And as a matter of fact, he sounded very lucid, clear and concise in the data points that I shared with you on your show yesterday. At no point did he sound distraught, depressed. He sounded monotone and subdued, but that was George being George.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So do you think that these attorneys threw your friend George under the bus by saying essentially they`re concerned about his emotional state, they think he suffered from PS -- posttraumatic stress disorder, that essentially they were implying, at least that`s how I interpreted it that he`s experiencing some kind of breakdown?

TAAFFE: Well, no disrespect to Mr. Uhrig. He`s one of the preeminent attorneys in central Florida, but I believe the lawyers were lawyering.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you mean lawyers were lawyering?

TAAFFE: Well, that`s what they do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, spell it out. Are you saying it was an attention grab? It was 48 minutes of national media coverage? I mean, that`s a lot of attention and not everybody in the country knows who these guys are. I had no idea who they were before this case happened. What?

TAAFFE: I was in shock, or I was surprised that they dismissed him as a client because they weren`t in contact with him. And as -- I spoke with him yesterday at 1 p.m., and at no point did he share with me that he had any difficulties with the attorneys that were on record.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you -- do you think he`s having some kind of emotional breakdown? Are you worried for his emotional state as these two men are?

TAAFFE: Oh, absolutely. I`m a friend of his, and he`s going through some great turmoil in his life, an upheaval, as he stated on his Web site.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Young Williams, you -- your estranged husband, Jason Young, famous sports figure, was involved in a shooting case. Can you explain some of the seemingly erratic behavior by George Zimmerman?

TANYA YOUNG WILLIAMS, FORMER WIFE OF JASON YOUNG: Well, when I listened to the attorneys today -- in fact, I wasn`t shocked or surprised, as a matter of fact, because I know with Jason, there were times, because of the severe gravity of the situation, that he was emotionally unbalanced. There`s one side, as Mr. Taaffe is saying, that seems lucid and calm and then the other sides where there`s extreme anxiety.

And we almost had to baby sit him, but he had a team. He had a wife and friends who would really be the buffer when his mind really wanted to reach out to other people and get their opinion or call someone in the press who might have been his friend during the basketball days. We sort of had to curtail all of that, because if you don`t do it, you see what happened here. They potentially sabotage their own defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, calling the special prosecutor on your own without telling your attorneys? This is the prosecutor who is going to prosecute, possibly, your case.

WILLIAMS: But in their mind, because he has yet to speak to an attorney who`s been able to lay out the procedure. So in his mind, he doesn`t think -- Zimmerman thinks he`s the best one to share his stories. The problem is, he doesn`t have people around him saying, "Be quiet and trust us."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re just getting started on this. George Zimmerman`s now former lawyers say they are out because they have lost contact with Zimmerman. Has he gone over the edge? Has he gone rogue? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONNER: We want to announce today as of now we`re withdrawing as counsel for Mr. Zimmerman. We`ve lost contact with him. Up to this point, we`ve had contact every day. He has gone on his own. I`m not sure what he`s doing or who he`s talking to, but at this point we are withdrawing as counsel. If he wants us to come back as counsel, he will contact us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Any interviews with Mr. Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no question, do you know where George Zimmerman is right now?

COREY: I do not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not, that`s surprising. Why not?

COREY: Well, right now our job is to continue our investigation as to the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s special prosecutor Angela Corey. That was 15 days ago, telling us on our show she had yet to speak to George Zimmerman.

And in the meantime people are acting out, perhaps, in frustration over the pace of this investigation. This police vehicle was shot out. It was riddled with bullets, glass shattered right near the Twin Lakes neighborhood where Trayvon Martin was shot.

And there was another acting out. In Michigan yesterday, outrage over electronic road sign that displayed a very horrific racial slur, targeting Trayvon. So things are getting ugly, perhaps, in some respects as the waiting game continues.

Mark Nejames, criminal defense attorney HLN legal analyst, you are there in Orlando, Florida. When we spoke to Angela Corey 15 days ago she said she hadn`t talked to Trayvon -- to George Zimmerman yet. We expected well, in the coming days she would do so.

Now we`re hearing that today George Zimmerman allegedly reached out to her to tell his story to her and she declined, saying appropriately no, you can`t do that without attorneys. This is from his now former attorneys.

But my question is, my gosh, in 15 days, why have they not interviewed the person at the center of this investigation?

MARK NEJAMES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Jane, the whole thing is a bit confusing. First of all, I don`t fault the special prosecutor for taking her time on this. That`s what the Sanford police department should have done in the first place. They should have conducted a proper investigation. So I think any criticism in that regard is unjustified.

Now, as it relates to the communications between defense council and the prosecutor, that`s routine that it would take place, and -- but it`s very uncommon for a defendant to go speak to a prosecutor with or without council. It does happen on occasion, but it`s a case by case evaluation and analysis.

That they have no communication about that whatsoever, and then we find out today in the press conference that his own attorneys had never met with him. So it was rather hard to schedule an appointment with the prosecutor on a case -- any case, let alone, one of this magnitude, if you`ve never met with your client.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kay Fox, TV personality and host of Hot 97 morning. People terms, you`re not a lawyer, but this is a common-sense thing. I mean, this has been going on for a long time now.

The entire nation, indeed, the world is looking at this case. And today we`re learning that these now former attorneys think George Zimmerman isn`t even in Florida right now. And the special prosecutor handling the case hasn`t apparently talked to him, if you believe these attorneys. George Zimmerman tried to call them, the special prosecutor`s office today and was turned down. Now, I don`t know how they think that there`s going to be an arrest any second now, because wouldn`t they have to talk to him first?

KAY FOX, TV PERSONALITY: You would think that. But now it feels like they`re insulting our intelligence. And let me just say this, Jane. We`ve got to talk about this Web site that he put up, because this thing is absolutely appalling to me, and it frustrates me so much. Because when you actually read George Zimmerman`s statement, he shows no remorse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll show that Web site while you talk.

FOX: This is absolutely absurd. He`s taking donations to help with his legal fees. And when you read his statement, he`s not even talking about him taking a young man`s life. He`s talking about him being inconvenienced. How dare he? Because he has to move and what happened with him. What about this young man`s life that`s never going to live another day? What about that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but I`m still wondering a common-sense question. He`s not in Florida. They haven`t talked to him. His attorneys don`t know where he is. Does he have his passport? Could he flee the country? We`ll try to answer that on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ve got some more on this case in a moment, but first here is your "Viral Video of the Day."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONNER: He set up his own Web site; that was fine. I wish he would have told me. In fact, I prefer it that way, because that money is for George and not for me, and I don`t want my hands on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, the complaints from these lawyers today. They said this Web site that you`re looking at here, TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com, was set up by George Zimmerman in sort of a rogue fashion. He launched it on his own with PayPal so he could get money from his supporters, and this is one of the reasons these attorneys are stepping down. They say they were actually working to set up another Web site. So it would seem that these two lawyers and George Zimmerman are working at cross purposes.

But I think the biggest question of all is how does all of this, this wacky news conference from these two gentlemen, affect this case?

Richard Kurtz, you`re former special prosecutor. The bottom line is we`re all waiting on pins and needles.

Are they going to arrest George Zimmerman any second? And yet we found out that it appears that the special prosecutor has not yet interviewed George Zimmerman, who is now out of the state of Florida. Do they have to interview George Zimmerman before they arrest him?

RICHARD KURTZ, FORMER SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. The law enforcement has spoken to him on the night that he was taken into custody, and he was interviewed at that time. The idea that Angela Corey`s office would be interviewing him now is ludicrous, especially in light of the fact that he`s had counsel the whole time.

Now, what could be happening is that he made contact with Angela Corey`s office. And Angela Corey`s office said, "Look, you`re represented by counsel. I can`t talk to you."

And these attorneys all of a sudden come out and say, "Look, we don`t represent him anymore."

I`ll tell you, Mr. Zimmerman, if you`re watching, don`t go there. Angela Corey is an excellent prosecutor. She`s assigned excellent people to this. You`re not going walk in there and convince her of your situation. You needed good counsel. You need to take your time and let the investigation run its course.

And what`s been going on, I`m very disappointed. I hate to criticize, and I never criticize another attorney if I can`t, but they should come out and say, "Look, we have irreconcilable differences. We`re out of contact with our client."

To come out and say, "Our client is not doing well emotionally. He has posttraumatic stress disorder and we don`t know where he`s at. He`s not in Florida," those things seriously compromise the integrity of the defense in the case. I`m very disappointed. It borderlines on attorney- client confidentiality. And a little surprised that they went that far in that conversation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re not the only one. Tonight, these two lawyers who stepped down are coming under fire for holding this news conference at all.

Let`s face it: all they had to do was issue a press release and announce that they were resigning. Instead, they grabbed the national spotlight for a whopping 46 minutes. We`ve actually timed it, 46 minutes, revealing a whole lot about their, at the time, client.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UHRIG: This has been a terribly corrosive process. George Zimmerman, in our opinion and from information made available to us, is not doing well emotionally, probably suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome. We understand from others that he may have lost a lot of weight. George can`t drive down to some office center to go and see a psychologist. George can`t go down to the 7-Eleven to buy a Diet Coke. There`s a bounty out on his head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya, did they basically betray their client?

WILLIAMS: You know, I think for whatever reason, they`re trying to protect their interests, and what I know is that George Zimmerman is taking care of himself. They`re speaking to his father. They`re speaking to his sister, but there`s obviously a disconnect. I think there are control issues here and George Zimmerman is coming out and saying, "I want to take control of my life." And that might be to his demise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, on the other side of the break we`re going to talk to Mark Nejames, who has an interesting psychological analysis to this psychobabble here. Is this exactly what he did the night that Trayvon died?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE GALANOS, HLN ANCHOR: Brand new information in the Trayvon Martin shooting. We just heard from the special prosecutor investigating the case, Angela Corey, and she says she will not send the case to a grand jury.

ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Since I`ve been the elected state attorney for the last three years and two months we have yet to convene a grand jury to determine whether or not to file charges in a justifiable use of deadly force case.

CROWD: We`re marching. We`re marching for Trayvon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racism still exists and injustice to the black community is still there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not getting any answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a full and complete investigation that was fair and it will be presented to the state attorney`s office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t want the buck passed from agency to agency. We want to have George Zimmerman arrested.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And in another bizarre twist today, the two attorneys for George Zimmerman, now ex-attorneys held a news conference saying "oh, we`re parting ways" because -- essentially implying he has gone rogue. And they said essentially that Zimmerman has done three things: struck out on his own, taken the case into his own hands and they used as Exhibit A his new Web site which his attorneys said they hadn`t even heard about until the media started calling them up and asking them about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAL UHRIG, FORMER ATTORNEY OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Our initial response was, well, that`s probably bogus. George hasn`t talked to us about that. We don`t know about it. So we started making inquiries and, frankly, confirmed that he, through friends or family had, in fact set that site up.

We learned that he had called Sean Hannity of Fox News directly and not through us. And we believe -- I can`t confirm this -- we believe that he spoke directly with Sean off the record and he`s not even willing to tell us what our client told him.

CRAIG SONNER, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR CRAIG ZIMMERMAN: And he called the special prosecutor`s office, but the prosecutor wouldn`t speak to him because he had representation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, Frank Taaffe you are frank Zimmerman`s former neighbor and friend. You were speaking to him yesterday at the very same time that these attorneys were unable to reach him. Were you aware that he is, according to his attorneys anyway outside the state of Florida right now?

FRANK TAAFFE, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S FORMER NEIGHBOR: I don`t know of where George is right now. When he calls me it`s from an unknown phone number.

But I want to go back to what the attorneys were sharing about the Web site. I`m the one who broke that. George called me about it. And he told me that he had set it up. I originally had one set up as I share it in your show. And he didn`t know about the one that I set up. But he wanted me to share with the media, you know, the point that he did set up the Web site so that people could interact with him via the Internet. There is a blog on there, there`s contact -- not contact, but there`s e- mail address.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, Frank, can I jump in for a second?

TAAFFE: Yes?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We talked a lot about this Web site. The point is that these attorneys were saying they were going in the process of setting up a different Web site when all of a sudden this --

TAAFFE: Right. It was called Zimmerman Defense Fund. That`s what Hal Uhrig and the other one set up. It was called Zimmerman Defense Fund. Correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. I got that, but why? Why is he going on his own path creating a different Web site at the same time as his attorneys were setting up another one?

TAAFFE: I can`t really answer that other than the fact that he wanted me to share it with the public of this Web site, where he could have direct control.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank, can I jump in -- direct control. Ok. Direct control.

I want to go to Mark Nejame because you have a theory. Direct control. Do you see any commonality psychologically between the way George Zimmerman behaved on the night he shot Trayvon Martin and how he`s behaving according to his former attorneys?

MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I`m not doing a psychological evaluation, Jane, but what I will do is simply look at the facts and I think they`re pretty clear. He`s accused of taking the law into his own hands as it relates to Trayvon Martin. And now with this press conference it appears that he`s taking his case into his own hands.

So you now are looking at -- you hit it on the head, of course, with the control issue. You`re looking at a picture being painted which is not a picture that a defendant would want painted of themselves that they took the situation in their own hands and now they`re doing it again.

I think that plays strongly to the prosecutor who would say, look, if we end up bringing charges he`ll likely take the stand and we`ll have a field day with him. I mean there are some real issues and I don`t understand why all those issues came out in the conference which really suggests whether it`s true or not.

It gives an appearance that he was very erratic. He`s not following the advice of counsel on a homicide case which happens to be the biggest case in the country.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I agree. I`m absolutely astounded that the attorneys revealed it, whether it`s true or not, the fact that they`re revealing these details that he lost weight. First of all, how do they know that? They`ve never met him.

Let`s go to the phone lines. Amy, Vermont, you`ve been so patient. Your question or thought -- Amy, Vermont.

AMY, VERMONT (via telephone): Yes, Jane. Hi. It`s nice to talk to you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi. Thank you.

AMY: What I was wondering is maybe his attorneys aren`t quite as off as what we think they are. Do you think possibly that by revealing that he`s taking things into his own hands and he`s not cooperating, that possibly they could be setting up, that if he is arrested and charged that he is unable to participate in his own defense as he is mentally --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Oh, my gosh, well, you know what? You sound like a Hollywood scriptwriter but this case is stranger than a Hollywood screenplay.

So Natalee Jackson, you`re the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family, could this be some kind of sophisticated game to set up an insanity defense?

NATALEE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN`S FAMILY: You know, we don`t know. That would be speculation, but I will tell you, I agree with Mark that there is something -- this is the thing that the family has wanted from the beginning. We`ve seen with George from the taped phone call that he had at police dispatch that he`s a person that is non- compliant. He`s a person that takes things into his own hands and this is what we always thought happened on the night that Trayvon was killed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you make an excellent point. There is a pattern here. We are now also monitoring, of course, your Facebook and Twitter comments in real time. Producer Rich Dool, what is coming in from our viewers?

RICH DOOL, HLN PRODUCER: Jane this press conference today by Zimmerman`s defense team or now former defense team, blew up on social media. We`ve been getting hundreds of Facebook comments and tweets and the general consensus is what the -- no one saw this coming and nobody expected Zimmerman`s attorneys to step except maybe for MarjoT13 (ph) who tweeted, "I knew it. I thought from day one Zimmerman`s family had connections and he`d probably run."

But everyone else was surprised and that`s when the theories started coming out. TDL tweeted us, "Do you think Zimmerman has the idea to represent himself?" Interesting theory. But I can put everything to rest right now. I just received a tweet from Rocky the Dog who says, "I`m a psychic in Florida. Watch now, Jose Baez is going to take the George Zimmerman case." So that settles that, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh my God. All right. Yes. We`ve ignored the obvious that he basically wasn`t returning these attorneys` phone calls because he wants new legal representation. So I have to ask one of the premiere attorneys in the area, Mark Nejame, criminal defense attorney. You`re out of Orlando, have you gotten any kind of a contact from George Zimmerman saying, "Hey represent me"?

NEJAME: Whether I did or whether I didn`t, I sure wouldn`t comment about it. What I would comment about though is very, very clear that, you know, he`s -- these are good lawyers and so their strategy was apparently to go ahead and lay out a story, you know, to attach sympathy.

I think it backfired. I think it backfired terribly, in my opinion, but these are good, skilled, ethical lawyers. But there`s an issue that has surfaced that concerns me greatly. In their press conference they said the last telephonic communication they had with Zimmerman was on Sunday. Well, today`s Tuesday, I`m not going for a lot longer than a day and a half not talking to a client before I fired.

And I understand completely about not being compliant and calling up the prosecutor, I would fire a client in a heartbeat for doing that. But they said that they were taken aback if he called them. So it doesn`t seem like that was the reason they left. He said he was non-communicative. But non-communicative in a day and a half, that`s a pretty quantum leap to jump off of a case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: K Foxx, TV personality and host of HOT 97, what I see here and I think the tweeter who said oh, he`s going to hire Jose Baez is on to something. These mega cases, and I`ve seen it time and time again whether it was the Michael Jackson death trial, Michael Jackson child molestation trial, the O.J. Simpson trial, they take on a life of their own and they become like runaway freight trains. You don`t know where they`re headed and often in complete confusion and chaos. There is benefit to the defendant.

K FOXX, TV PERSONALITY: You know, that`s why he should have been locked up in the first place. We probably wouldn`t be going through this now, but who knows what`s going on in his mind? But I have no sympathy for this man. I don`t care if he`s crazy or not, we need to bring him to justice and that`s just the end of it.

I don`t know what the intentions of the lawyers were. I think it`s going to come out later but for them to try and cop a plea for insanity is just absolutely absurd if that`s what they`re trying to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to say, we`re just getting started. We`re going to take more calls on the other side of the break and on the other side of the break, we`re going ask is this wacky dude`s (inaudible) is going to accelerate the arrest or is it going to postpone the arrest. What does it mean to the key question, is George Zimmerman going to be arrested? And if so when.

On the other side.

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TAAFFE: We know that more will be revealed have via his Web site. George is in fear for his life I think, as you can understand. There are people out there that want to do him great harm.

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SONNER: Because I`m still concerned about his safety, I`m not going to get into too much detail. He`s in the United States. Any client that I have, if there is a warrant issued for their arrest, we make arrangements for them to turn themselves in. I don`t aid and abet people.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, oh, arrangements to turn himself in, but those guys are not this guy`s attorneys anymore. They`ve stepped aside saying essentially this guy`s gone off the radar screen. They don`t really have any way to contact him.

Jon Leiberman, investigative reporter, the attorneys for Trayvon`s family responded with a statement just a little while ago, quote, "The family is deeply concerned. George Zimmerman could pose a flight risk if he does indeed face charges in the murder of Trayvon Martin." Does he, Jon, pose a flight risk?

JON LEIBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, look, Jane. If he left the state as his former attorneys claim, then look, he`s a flight risk meaning he can move around the country freely. But I mean, this guy is the world`s most wanted person who doesn`t have an arrest warrant out for him yet. So I think again and about this press conference today, I think there`s a lot of information that those two attorneys didn`t reveal just like there`s a lot of information in this investigation, forensics and the like, that prosecutors are clearly waiting on before they make a decision whether to charge.

But something else was going on behind the scenes here, something that irked both these two attorneys and Mr. Zimmerman to the point that Mr. Zimmerman said that these two were his, quote, "legal advisers, not his legal representatives". That`s what he apparently told the special prosecutor.

So that right there shows you that he was trying to assert control over his own case. He didn`t want to relinquish it to these two seasoned attorneys.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. What did they say? Anyone who represents themselves has a fool for a client. Beware when you do that.

Tanya Young Williams, attorney and Huff Po contributor, do you think he`s a flight risk because you have a theory about what the prosecutors know and don`t know?

TANYA YOUNG WILLIAMS, ATTORNEY: Well, a couple of things -- is he a flight risk? Possibly, but speaking to friends who are part of the FBI, the notion that the federal government has been in from the beginning and possibly FBI, they will know where he is, whether they`re sharing it with us or whether they`re sharing it with Miss Corey, we don`t know. The FBI agent who I spoke to said the FBI knows where he is.

But I think one of the things that`s happening today is that we`re shifting the conversation. Very little has been spoken about Trayvon Martin and the tragedy of his death. Now, the attorneys are trying to do two things. They want to come out and distance themselves but at the same time they want to garner sympathy for their client just in case he calls them back. You really can`t have it both ways.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but a lot of people, including CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin think that they didn`t do him any favors. I don`t know if we can go out to Rich Dool, but Rich, HLN producer, there were some interesting tweets from Jeff Toobin, who I always think he`s right on the money. What did he say about this news conference?

DOULE: You`re right, Jane, Jeff Toobin senior legal analyst here at CNN has seen it all and even he was stunned by the press conference today. I`m just reading his tweets now.

The first one said, "Zimmy goes rogue, pretty bizarre newser by the lawyers in the Trayvon case." And then followed up by "Got ethics? Why did these two lawyers feel compelled to make their client Zimmy look like a nut? Why not just depart graciously?"

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that`s an excellent question. Mark Nejame, you`re right there in Orlando. Could these guys face any kind of consequence or disciplinary action by the Florida bar?

NEJAME: I was cringing. I -- I know how Uhrig is an excellent guy who`s always going to be extremely ethical. I don`t think they intentionally attempted to do anything unethical, but I was just cringing and clenching my jaws as I continued to hear more and more and more come out about communications and situations and the whole story, you know.

If you`re going to leave you leave graciously. And you simply indicate that, you know, they`re not following your advice and you understand that and you respect that. But you can`t agree with that and you wish them well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark -- Mark quickly, I have to jump in.

Could this accelerator slow down the arrest process? I mean do you think that now it`s, like, we better go back to square one here and everything else. We haven`t talked to him. Or we have to arrest him right away.

NEJAME: Well, I don`t think it`s going to make any difference. I think the prosecutor`s eye is on the ball and now the only issue will be if he truly has no counsel, then he`s opened to be talked to. So if they give him the waiver and if he waives his attorney, you know, he`s got a fully knowing consent that he`s waiving having counsel, they may want to talk to him. I suspect he`ll probably just opt out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: More Trayvon Martin in a moment. But first I think it`s been quite a news day. We all deserve a little laugh break.

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TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: If he had not got out of his vehicle that day, he wouldn`t have had to worry about starting a Web site or writing a letter or asking for people to make donations for his defense fund. Had he stayed in his vehicle as he was asked to do by the dispatcher, none of this would have even mattered.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is the dead teenager Trayvon Martin`s father referring to this Web site started by the shooter, George Zimmerman, who on the RealGeorgeZimmerman.com writes he was forced to leave his home, school, employer, family and ultimately his entire life and any funds provided are only used for living expenses and legal defense.

I have to say, Jon Leiberman, investigative reporter, could this all be about the money?

LEIBERMAN: Well, that was interesting, too, in the news conference that the attorneys made a point of really distancing themselves from this Web site and saying they don`t want anything to do with the money, things of that sort.

Look, at the end of the day, I don`t think any of this is going to speed up whether or not Mr. Zimmerman gets charged. I think the special prosecutor down there is going to continue moving forward and I personally think we`re going to see major developments over the next few days.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Jon, let me ask you, Richard Kuritz said they don`t need it to interview him again. Do you agree? I know they don`t need to probably legally, but do you think it would be wise since he`s at the center of this entire case now that they`ve collected all their evidence to talk to him and get a statement from him in person before they make their ultimate decision?

LEIBERMAN: No, I actually agree 100 percent with what he said. Police did a comprehensive interview with him. It just hasn`t been released obviously. So prosecutors seem perfectly fine with the statement that they have from Mr. Zimmerman both that night and then in subsequent interviews that police did. So it appears they`re fine with that. So no, I don`t think they need to re-interview him prior to deciding whether to charge him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Let`s go out to the phone lines, Bradley, West Virginia, your question or thought, Bradley?

Bradley, West Virginia: Yes, I understand from the beginning of this that this gentleman has assault and battery against a police officer five years prior to this. How did this man get a permit to carry?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, excellent question. Richard Kuritz, former prosecutor?

RICHARD KURITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, because he was not actually formally charged or convicted of that charge. Had he been actually convicted of that, that would be a felony; he would be charged with possession of firearm by a convicted felon at this time. He would not have had that opportunity.

In the state of Florida clearly he had not been successfully prosecuted and convicted of that charge or your caller`s question would be very on point. But the answer is he was not convicted of that charge. He can clearly carry a concealed weapon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: K Foxx TV personality, you have seen so many of these huge cases come down the pipe. We`ve covered them together. Do you see this becoming one of these mega cases that really just changes our culture entirely and we`ve covered many, many of these cases over the years but there`s something about a mega case that it seems like a runaway freight train like no other case. Do you get that sense that this is what`s happening here?

FOXX: I definitely get that sense but we also need to stay focused that a young man`s life was taken away from him and it seems like Zimmerman feels like he is above the law because he has a dad as a former judge, his mom works in the clerk`s office somewhere and now it seems like he`s just doing whatever he wants to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you`re making some excellent points and we are going to have still more on the other side.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya`s best analysis of the day. Take it away.

WILLIAMS: Jane, in my opinion the problem is that the defense realizes that there`s no real value in Zimmerman speaking to the prosecutor. I followed the Conrad Murray case very well. He spoke to the prosecutor -- that`s what hung him. They want him to be quiet. He wants to speak. That`s probably the reason they jumped ship.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Richard Kuritz, what do you think, briefly?

KURITZ: I would absolutely not let my client talk to the prosecution. They`ve spoken to the police one time. There`s no benefit in talking to anybody else at this point. He should be quiet. Get a lawyer. Say nothing else.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So maybe that`s the real story. We finally got to him. He wanted to talk to the special prosecutor. They didn`t want him to. So he says I`m not going to answer your calls. I`m going to call her and I`m going to talk to her. And she says, well, I`m not going to talk to you without a lawyer anyway, so they`ve parted ways because of that difference. All right.

"NANCY GRACE" is up next.

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