George Zimmerman's Defense Attorney Continues Cross-Examination of State's Witness

Rachel Jeantel was on the phone with Trayvon Martin minutes before he died

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013  |  Updated 9:45 PM EDT
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George Zimmerman’s defense attorney continued cross-examination of one of the state’s key witnesses on Thursday inside the Seminole County Courthouse. Rachel Jeantel was on the phone with Trayvon Martin just minutes before he died, and defense attorney Don West questioned Jeantel about what she heard during the phone call with Martin. Also, her attorney Rod Vereen spoke to NBC 6 about his client.

George Zimmerman’s defense attorney continued cross-examination of one of the state’s key witnesses on Thursday inside the Seminole County Courthouse. Rachel Jeantel was on the phone with Trayvon Martin just minutes before he died, and defense attorney Don West questioned Jeantel about what she heard during the phone call with Martin. Also, her attorney Rod Vereen spoke to NBC 6 about his client.

George Zimmerman’s defense attorney continued cross-examination of one of the state’s key witnesses on Thursday inside the Seminole County Courthouse.

Rachel Jeantel, 19, was on the phone with Trayvon Martin just minutes before he died, and defense attorney Don West questioned Jeantel about what she heard during the phone call with Martin.

Prosecutors say it was Zimmerman who followed Martin. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he shot Martin in self-defense.

Jeantel answered questions about a letter she wrote to Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and statements she made to the Martin family attorney and to prosecutors, all prior to her testimony on Wednesday.

One focus – what Jeantel heard the person Trayvon Martin told her was following him say to Martin.

Wednesday Jeantel testified she heard "a hard breathed man say what you doing around here.”

“Contrary to what you said at the deposition, this letter does not in fact contain any response that the person gave to Trayvon Martin when he said why are you following me?” said attorney Don West.

“Yes,” said Jeantel.

But Jeantel said she didn’t include that detail in the letter she gave Fulton because she said she thought it would be disrespectful. Jeantel said the handwritten letter was actually written by a friend.

She testified she also met Martin’s mother and didn't share everything she heard during the call.

In her prior testimony, Jeantel stated that after she heard Martin asking a man why he was following him and heard Martin say: "get off – get off."

Jeantel was asked to refer to an interview conducted with prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

“According to this transcript that you just saw, when Mr. de la Rionda said could you tell who was saying that, you said I couldn't hear Trayvon – Trayvon,” said West.

“I could hear. Read the next page sir,” she said.

West asked Jeantel about why she didn't contact police after her call with Martin disconnected.

“But you thought it was just a fight because it was one you knew that Trayvon Martin was planning to start,” West said.

“No sir. He would have told me sir – told me to call him back or he'll call me back sir,” Jeantel said.

NBC 6 spoke to Jeantel’s attorney Rod Vereen who said that much of the confusion in the courtroom on Thursday over Jeantel's grammar and dialect in her deposition and interviews with prosecutors prior to the trial was a result of both sides not having her take a second look at what the court reporters put on the official transcripts.

He said the standard process to avoid errors, by reviewing and correcting the statements with her, wasn’t conducted.

He added that she remains distraught over Martin's death and questions if she could have done something to help him.

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