Craig Sonner has never defended a client accused in a homicide, but he now represents George Zimmerman, the man at the center of one of the nation's most racially divisive shootings in years.
And Sonner predicts he'll have no problem clearing Zimmerman.
"I believed his story of how he was defending himself," said 47-year-old Sonner, a one-man Altamonte Springs law firm. "I've already got a number of experts lined up to take this one … I don't think we're going to have a problem exonerating George Zimmerman."
Sonner had not paid much attention to the case and all the media reports about it until Zimmerman's father called, asking for help.
"Then George called me," Sonner said.
That was more than two weeks ago. Sonner says he now talks with the 28-year-old Zimmerman at least once and sometimes several times a day, depending on the day's events.
At first, Sonner advised his client and his family to say nothing, but the story about Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, kept growing.
There were rallies and marches in cities across the country. Al Sharpton and the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People traveled to Sanford. Members of Congress called for an arrest.
Finally, on March 23, Sonner decided to change course. Someone had to publicly defend Zimmerman, to say that he was no racist and that his claim of self-defense was legitimate.
So Sonner drove to Lake Mary to do an interview at WOFL-Channel 35. Minutes after walking out of the studio, his phone wouldn't stop ringing, he said. When he got back to his office a short time later, network-news trucks were stacked up outside his office.
But he made perhaps his biggest media splash March 26, when he walked out of an Orlando studio minutes before airtime, leaving Lawrence O'Donnell, host of "The Last Word" on MSNBC, fuming and spending several minutes angrily interviewing an empty chair.
"I live in New York City," Stewart joked. "I see a lot of people yelling at chairs. None of them have TV shows."
Sonner said the night he walked off the set that the "only reason I'm talking now is that this case has spun so out of control," he said. Zimmerman "is not a racist. This was a case of self-defense."
And Sonner is no longer Zimmerman's lone defender.
Late Tuesday, veteran Orlando-area criminal-defense attorney Hal Uhrig, who often works on cases with Sonner, announced that he was joining the defense team.
He is confident of their client's self-defense claim, Uhrig told WOFL, in part because Zimmerman has already passed a voice-stress test, something similar to a lie-detector test, administered by Sanford police.
Both lawyers said they never have met Zimmerman face to face.
"Because of the danger he faces, we communicate only by phone," Sonner said.