Zimmerman’s defense hammers at prosecution’s star witness

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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George Zimmerman attorney Don West continued his attempts to impeach the credibility of the state’s star witness, 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, in a second day of cross-examination,  questioning inconsistent statements she made during an interview with a Martin family attorney and a sworn deposition given to state attorneys.

On Thursday, Jeantel, the friend of Trayvon Martin’s who was the last to speak to him on the phone before he was shot by George Zimmerman, testified that Martin said he was being followed by Zimmerman, whom Martin described to Jeantel as a “creepy-ass cracka.”

“You don’t think that’s a racial comment?” West asked. Jeantel said she didn’t see Martin’s comment that way.

Jeantel said that she heard a “heavy-breathing man” ask Martin, “What are you doing here?”

She then testified that she heard a “wet grass sound.” West tried to get Jeantel to describe what wet grass sounds like.

“I really do not know how to describe it, sir,” Jeantel said.

West raised his voice as he asked Jeantel, “You don’t know that Trayvon didn’t at that moment take his fists and drive them into George Zimmerman’s face?”

“No, sir,” Jeantel conceded.

West also noted Jeantel’s improved demeanor from yesterday’s testimony, asking her, “Did somebody talk to you last night?”

West also sought to show that Jeantel’s statements was influenced by the Martin family and state attorneys.

One issue was whether or not Jeantel told state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda in an April 2, 2012 deposition that she could hear Martin telling Zimmerman “get off.” A recording of that deposition was played in court. Jeantel’s response was unclear on the tape, and West tried to argue that she said, “It could not have been Trayvon” saying “get off.” Jeantel clarified that she felt that Martin uttered that phrase instead of Zimmerman.

West noted that Jeantel did not mention this exchange during her interview with Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump on March 19, 2012. Jeantel said that she didn’t take that interview seriously because Crump wasn’t a member of law enforcement.

Jeantel also said Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, was sitting next to her during her deposition with de la Rionda. Fulton, according to Jeantel, was at times crying during the deposition. Jeantel also admitted that she altered some of her statements to de la Rionda because of Fulton’s presence.

West moved down another line of inquiry to get Jeantel to speculate on how she would know whether or not Martin was not going to confront or fight with Zimmerman. Jeantel replied that if Martin was about to confront Zimmerman that “he would have told me.”

When asked by West also asked whether or not Martin could have been lying about his physical location right before his altercation with Zimmerman, Jeantel dismissed the question.

“That’s real retarded, sir,” Jeantel replied.

Leading into the lunch recess, West continued teasing out whether Jeantel was being coaxed by by de la Rionda when she asked him in deposition “You want that too?” Jeantel initially said that she didn’t ask de la Rionda that question, but later conceded that she had.

In de la Rionda’s brief re-direct, he established that Jeantel still resides in Miami and speaks three languages, Spanish, Creole and English.

In re-cross, West pressed again on “creepy-ass cracka” comment, establishing that people in her neighborhood often refer to white people as “crackers.”

West did not question Jeantel on her social media activities, including a recent scrubbing of her Twitter account in which she criticized George Zimmerman, his family, and attorneys and a photo of her “court nails.”

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