On the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before Zimmerman shot him, Jeantel’s testimony could be damning for Zimmerman. For example, she said she heard Martin tell Zimmerman to “get off, get off.”
Zimmerman started a national debate on race when he shot the black, unarmed 17-year-old in February 2012.
He claims Martin attacked him first, so Jeantel’s testimony about what she heard that night could be key evidence.
Naturally, Zimmerman’s defence team is doing its best to destroy her credibility. Here are all instances where Don West, one of Zimmerman’s attorneys, poked holes in Jeantel’s story:
- Jeantel didn’t write a letter to Martin’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, outlining what happened on the day he died. When the defence asked Jeantel to read the letter, written in cursive, she couldn’t. She admitted she can’t read cursive. She asked a friend to write the letter for her, she said.
- Jeantel also signed the letter “Diamond Eugene,” her nickname, instead of her real name. She said Eugene is her mother’s last name, and Martin’s parents wouldn’t know her by Rachel Jeantel. At one point, she also referenced “DeeDee” as a nickname.
- In this letter, Jeantel omitted that she heard Martin call Zimmerman a “creepy arse cracker,” which she later testified that he said. She said she didn’t include all the details now present in her testimony to spare Fulton’s feelings. A mother probably wouldn’t want to hear her son talk like that.
- Jeantel also doesn’t seem to know exactly what Martin said to Zimmerman and vice-versa. During the prosecution’s questioning, she told the court Martin asked Zimmerman, “Why are you following me?” Initially, Jeantel said Zimmerman responded with, “What are you doing around here?” Jeantel later told the Martin family attorney, Benjamin Crump, Zimmerman’s response was, “What are you talking about?” Upon cross examination, West cited a recorded conversation between Jeantel and Crump. Later, she clarified again, adamant that Zimmerman asked what Martin was doing in the area. She also told Crump she was only 16. During cross-examination, she said she thought she’d have more privacy as a minor.
- Jeantel didn’t get involved in the case until days after Martin’s death. She gave a couple excuses in court. First, she said she didn’t know Martin died because she thought what happened with Zimmerman was “just a fight.” She also said she doesn’t watch the news. During cross-examination, though, she said she didn’t watch the news before March 19, the day the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would investigate Martin’s death, according to a timeline of the case from ABC News. The Smoking Gun also published screenshots of a few of Jeantel’s tweets, now deleted from her account, that show her watching CNN and HLN.
- Lastly, Jeantel didn’t attend Martin’s memorial service. She initially told Martin’s mother, she had to go to the hospital instead of the memorial. Later, she testified in court she didn’t want to see the body. She said she lied because she “felt guilty.”
Jeantel’s time on the stand was tense, and West wasted no time capitalising on Jeantel’s uncertainty. Throughout the cross-examination, West appeared frustrated and often spoke to Jeantel in a condescending tone. Eventually, she began to crumble on the stand.
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