The prosecution in the second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman called its star witness to the stand on Wednesday.
Rachel Jeantel, a 19-year-old high school student from Miami who was the last person to speak to Florida teenager Trayvon Martin before he died, testified that Martin told her over the phone as he was walking home that he was trying to get away from a man who was following him.
Martin was staying with his father’s fiance in a gated community at the time. He called Jeantel as he was walking home from a corner store, and he said he noticed that a man was watching him.
“I asked him how the man looked,” Jeantel said. “He just told me the man looked creepy. … A creepy arse cracker was looking at him.”
Martin said he was going to try to lose the man. Jeantel said he later told her: “That n—a is still following me now.”
According to Jeantel, the call then went dead, and when she called him back, Martin said: “Oh s–t. The n—a behind me.”
Jeantel told the court she heard Martin ask the man why he was following him.
“[Then] I heard a man saying ‘what are you doing around here,'” she said. She then heard a thump, what she described as a “wet grass sound” and Martin saying, “get off, get off.”
The following Monday, she heard a rumour going around that Martin was dead. She said she didn’t realise at the time that she was the last person to talk to him.
Jeantel’s testimony was tense. The court stenographer was having a hard time hearing her as she was speaking on the stand, and the prosecutor seemed to imply people could not understand her because she is “from a Haitian family.” He and the judge seemed impatient as they asked Jeantel to speak more clearly multiple times, and the testimony was visibly difficult for her to give.
Upon questioning about why Jeantel didn’t go to Martin’s wake, she said “I didn’t want to see the body” as she dabbed away tears.
The defence will cross-examine Jeantel after a brief recess. Zimmerman’s defence attorneys says Zimmerman shot Martin after he was viciously attacked.
Zimmerman was reportedly suspicious of Martin when he saw Martin walking around the neighbourhood, and he called police to report him. Prosecutors allege that Zimmerman was profiling.
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