ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Florida has acquired extra legal help, hiring a veteran criminal defense lawyer and media pundit.
George Zimmerman’s new lawyer, Hal Uhrig, is a former Gainesville police officer who has worked as a legal consultant for several Florida police departments, according to his online biography.
Uhrig will be part of a team representing Zimmerman, a white Hispanic who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26 in a gated community in the town of Sanford, near Orlando.
Prosecutors have not charged Zimmerman, prompting demonstrations in a number of U.S. cities.
Zimmerman had earlier hired Craig Sonner, who has acknowledged he has not yet met face to face with his client. Zimmerman contends he acted in self defense and is in hiding.
“I believe everything that you’re going to find that comes out from a forensic standpoint or a witness standpoint is going to be consistent with the explanation given by George Zimmerman, and the way the law is written in Florida and about 23 other states,” Uhrig told NBC’s “Today” on Thursday.
“If you are in fear for imminent injury, and when you’re getting your head slammed in the ground after your nose has been broken ... then you are entitled to use force including deadly force to protect yourself,” he added.
Uhrig appeared as a legal analyst on the Fox News network last year during the Orlando trial of Casey Anthony, who was found not guilty of killing her daughter, Caylee.
Zimmerman shot Martin after telling police he looked suspicious and getting out of his car to follow him.
Critics believe Zimmerman was motivated by racial profiling in deciding to follow Martin and that race played a role in police accepting his version of events.
A special prosecutor, Angela Corey, has taken over the case and could announce soon whether she intends to charge him.
A grand jury was to begin hearing the case April 10.
Writing by David Adams; Editing by Vicki Allen