Trayvon Martin case: Prosecution's star witness proves to be a challenge (+video)
Rachel Jeantel, who testified that she was talking on the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot, returns to the stand Thursday in the George Zimmerman trial. She has not been an easy witness to understand, literally and figuratively.
Impertinent. Mumbling. Offended. Teary-eyed. Rachel Jeantel, star witness for the prosecution in George Zimmerman's murder trial, was all of those, and more, as her testimony Wednesday provided new details into Trayvon Martin’s last moments and infused racially loaded commentary into an already-sensitive trial.
Trayvon's last moments will continue to be the focus Thursday, as Ms. Jeantel returns to court. On Wednesday, two other eyewitnesses testified that they believed the defendant, Mr. Zimmerman, was an aggressor who attacked Trayvon, who then yelled for help twice “in a boy’s voice.”
The Feb. 26, 2012, shooting in Sanford, Fla., sparked civil rights demonstrations after local police originally refused to arrest Zimmerman because his self-defense claims could not be countered. Trayvon was unarmed, walking back to where he was staying in a gated neighborhood, when Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, spotted him, got out of his car, and ended up in a physical struggle with the teenager. Zimmerman shot Trayvon and claims self-defense. Forty four days after Trayvon’s death, a special state prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.
On Wednesday, Jeantel, 19, gave critics of the prosecution’s case plenty of ammunition with her curious demeanor, causing one blogger to write: “Worst. Witness. Ever.”
“Frequently mumbling her testimony, leading to delays in court as people tried to figure out exactly what she was saying, she became the star of the trial … not necessarily in a good way,” writes Free Britney for The Hollywood Gossip website.
Despite acknowledging telling at least two lies to investigators early in their probe – one about her age, the other about why she skipped Trayvon’s memorial service – Jeantel nevertheless riveted the jury with her testimony recounting what she heard on the phone while she was talking her friend, Trayvon. "A man was watching him. He [Trayvon] told me he was going to try to lose him.” At a later point, Jeantel said she urged Trayvon to “stop playing with him like that.”