SANFORD, Fla (Reuters) – George Zimmerman will surrender to authorities if he is charged in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, his attorney said yesterday.
“If he’s charged, he will be arrested and he will turn himself in,” attorney Craig Sonner told Reuters in a telephone interview. “However it goes, he’s not hiding from the authorities. If he is asked, he will turn himself in. There’s not going to be a manhunt or anything like that.”
Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer, fatally shot Martin on the night of Feb 26, saying he had acted in self defence. Police released him without charge and said there was no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s story that he was attacked by Martin, 17.
The case has riveted the country, prompting demonstrations in numerous cities demanding that Zimmerman be arrested. Critics believe Zimmerman, who is a white Hispanic, was motivated by racial profiling in deciding to follow Martin and that race played a role in police accepting his version of events.
Sonner and Zimmerman’s relatives have said in interviews that he is not a racist and has been unfairly vilified. They said he feared for his life during his altercation with Martin and was justified in using deadly force.
Zimmerman remains free but in hiding. Special prosecutor Angela Corey has taken over the case and could announce soon whether she intends to charge him with a crime.
“We’re preparing for trial,” Sonner said. “We’ve done all we can except ask for discovery (evidence-sharing) from the state, which is not available to us yet” because Zimmerman has not been charged.
Following intense public criticism and a vote of “no confidence” by the Sanford City Commission, Police Chief Bill Lee resigned temporarily on March 22. He said the uproar surrounding him had become a distraction to the investigation.
That same day, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger also said he was taking himself off the case “with the intent of toning down the rhetoric.”