June 26, 2013

Trayvon Martin's friend describes final phone call

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Rachel Jeantel, the witness that was on the phone with Trayvon Martin just before he died, gives her testimony to the prosecution during George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston, Pool)

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George Zimmerman, right, talks to attorney Don West during his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston, Pool)

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Under cross-examination, defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked why Manalo had never mentioned her belief that Zimmerman was on top in previous police interviews. He also got her to concede that her perception of Martin's size was based on five-year-old photos on television that showed a younger and smaller Martin.

Martin's parents have said they believe the cries for help heard by neighbors came from their son, while Zimmerman's father believes the cries belong to his son. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys believe they could show whether Zimmerman or Martin was the aggressor in the encounter. Defense attorneys successfully argued against allowing prosecution experts who claimed the cries belonged to Martin.

Jeantel on Wednesday testified that she believed the cries were Martin's because "Trayvon has kind of a baby voice." The defense attorney challenged that, claiming she was less certain in a previous deposition.

Jeantel, 19, also explained that she had initially lied about her age — she claimed to be 16 — to protect her privacy when she was initially contacted by an attorney for Martin's family to give a recorded statement over the telephone about what she knew about the few moments before Martin's encounter with Zimmerman. She was expected to finish her testimony on Thursday.

While being cross-examined, Jeantel had several testy exchange with West, including one moment when she prompted the defense attorney to ask his next question: "You can go. You can go."

Before the February 2012 shooting, Zimmerman had made about a half dozen calls to a nonemergency police number to report suspicious characters in his neighborhood. Judge Debra Nelson on Wednesday ruled that they could be played for jurors.

Prosecutors had argued that the police dispatch calls were central to their case that Zimmerman committed second-degree murder since they showed his state of mind. He was increasingly frustrated with repeated burglaries and had reached a breaking point the night he shot the unarmed teenager, prosecutors say.

Defense attorneys argued that the calls were irrelevant and that nothing matters but the seven or eight minutes before Zimmerman fired the deadly shot into Martin's chest.

Seven of the nine jurors and alternates scribbled attentively on their notepads as the calls were played.

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