Hes a good lawyer, Ashton said of Uhrig. Hes been around a very long time. Hes competent, not flashy or flamboyant. Hes a tough litigator.
Uhrig has a more varied criminal practice, which does not include many high-profile homicides, Ashton said.
Uhrig joined the Florida Bar in 1975, after several years as a Gainesville Police sergeant. He has represented 10 law enforcement agencies, and was president of the Florida Association of Police Attorneys.
Right now were defending a reputation. We may be defending more than that later, but thats up to somebody other than us, Uhrig told NBC News. When all of the evidence comes out its going to be absolutely clear.... The forensic evidence all supports Mr. Zimmermans version of what happened.
With Uhrig onboard, Zimmermans co-worker said he has stepped down from serving as a media consultant in the case.
My goal in stepping in front of the camera was to slow down the race to judgment, not the rush the race, Oliver said. I feel like I was able to open at least some eyes.
Oliver, who is African-American, was lambasted as the black friend who sometimes said preposterous things in his friends defense. Ultimately, anti-Zimmerman talk show hosts forced Oliver to admit that he has not seen Zimmerman recently and had no personal knowledge of his injuries the night he killed Trayvon Martin, or of his past arrests and domestic violence complaints.
Oliver said he never intended to speak up on Zimmermans behalf, and meant just to advise on a media strategy. People mocked the former TV newscaster, saying his appearances were merely a desperate attempt to get back on the air.
I got caught up in the story, said Oliver, who noted that Sonners delivery on television has improved dramatically.
Oliver said Zimmermans father and brother, both named Robert, never consulted with him or with the attorney before going on national television to recount their version of events. He wouldnt offer details of what guidance he offered the Zimmerman family, but added: They are following their own advice.
Among the strategies is to spread word about Zimmermans activism on behalf of a homeless black man who was beaten by the son of a Sanford police officer in 2010. An anonymous flier Zimmerman reportedly left on car windows demanding justice for the homeless man was emailed to news reporters and mailed to Sanford black churches and leaders.
New pictures of Zimmerman were distributed, as the family repeated Zimmermans allegations that Trayvon attacked him, not the other way around.
If he was banged one more time, he would be wearing diapers the rest of his life, being spoon fed by his brother, Zimmermans brother, Robert, told CNNs Pier Morgan.
The approach may have worked. A March 24 and 25 CNN poll showed 73 percent of Americans were in favor of Zimmerman being arrested. But once Zimmermans side of the story was pushed forward and conservative bloggers began portraying Trayvon as a thug public opinion began to shift.
A Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research poll conducted March 27 and 28 showed the number of people in favor of an arrest had dropped to 48 percent. Many people were now increasingly unsure.
The shift has laso been marked by public support for Zimmerman from fringe groups such as white supremacists and the Rev. Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor who announced last year plans to burn the Quran and now plans to hold a rally for Zimmerman. Gun ownership advocacy groups have also announced intentions to contribute $10,000 towards Zimmermans defense.
Its a PR strategy, a propaganda campaign, said Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Trayvons parents. His friends and family are doing him a big disservice by race-baiting. They are trying to divide a jury. Frank Taaffe, Joe Oliver, everybody gets up there and says, George Zimmerman is not a racist. Thats not what were talking about.
Were talking about whether he was justified in taking Trayvon Martins life.