June 27, 2013

Trayvon Martin's friend stands firm under cross-examination

Rachel Jeantel is one of the prosecution's most important witnesses because she bolsters the contention that George Zimmerman was the aggressor.

By Kyle Hightower and Mike Schneider / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Witness Rachel Jeantel continues her testimony to defense attorney Don West on day 14 of George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla., on Thursday.

AP

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Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton, left, and Tracy Martin, center, attend George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla., on Thursday. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon.

AP

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Later in the morning, West accused Jeantel of not calling police after Martin's phone went dead because she thought it was a fight he had provoked.

"That's why you weren't worried. That's why you didn't do anything because Trayvon Martin started the fight, and you knew that," West said.

"No sir!" Jeantel said. "I don't know what you're talking about."

At one point, West handed her a letter she had written with the help of a friend to Martin's mother explaining what happened. She looked at it but then said she couldn't read cursive handwriting. Jeantel later explained she is of Haitian descent and grew up speaking Creole and Spanish.

Thursday's testimony began with a more subdued tone than it did a day earlier, when Jeantel frequently bristled at West's questions and she at one point told him to move on to the next question: "You can go. You can go."

West took note of her calmer demeanor in the morning. She answered many of West's early questions by repeating "yes, sir," almost in a whisper.

"You feeling OK today? You seem different than yesterday," West said.

"I got some sleep," she answered.

After Jeantel left the witness stand, a mobile phone manager testified about Martin's cell phone records and a former neighbor of Zimmerman testified she heard yelps for help outside her townhome on the night Martin was shot. Jenna Lauer said she couldn't tell who was screaming.

"They were being hurt," Lauer said, describing the person screaming.

Before court recessed for the day, defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked another former neighbor to recreate for jurors how she reacted when she heard what turned out to be a gunshot and ran out of her townhouse to see what was going on. The request had Selma Mora in the unusual position of standing up from the witness stand and pretending to be in her kitchen in front of the judge's bench.

 

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