No evidence Zimmerman eyewitness qualified for Olympics, despite claim under oath

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The Daily Caller has learned that a witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial may have fibbed under oath when she said that she was a qualified Olympian.

Jayne Surdyka, who lives in the gated community where Trayvon Martin was killed, was asked Wednesday by state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda if it was true that she had at some point qualified for the Olympic Games.

“During the eighties is, you know, when I was running and they had a marathon in the Olympic Games. I would have been the top three runners.”

De la Rionda followed up, asking “Were those the Olympics that was [sic] boycotted?”

“Yes, sir,” said Surdyka.

In a 2008 blog comment, a person using the handle “Jayne Surdyka” — who also listed that they lived in Florida — wrote that they were “a former Olympic athlete.” The commenter’s stated occupational history also matched that of the state’s witness.

The 1980 Summer Games, held in Moscow, were boycotted by the United States in response to Soviet military actions.

But those Games did not hold a women’s marathon event.

An article dated Feb. 24, 1981 reported on the International Olympic Committee’s decision to finally allow women to compete in the marathon event in the 1984 Games, held in Los Angeles.

A commenter at a track and field online message board recalled running with Surdyka at the University of Florida. That individual said that Surdyka was a decent runner, but added “I do not believe she ever made any Olympic team though.”


A Miami News article from Jan. 15, 1981 posted a marathon time for Surdyka. In August 1980, the article reports, Surdyka completed the International Avon Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 47 minutes. The article also reports that she did win the 1979 Southern 10K.

For comparison, according to a website called the Marathon Guide, Surdyka’s International Avon time would have placed her between 84th and 90th had she competed at the 1984 women’s Olympic marathon trials held in Olympia, Washington. Eventual Olympic gold medalist, Joan Benoit won that trial with a time of 2 hours, 31 minutes. The third place finisher in that competition, Julie Ishphording, finished in 2 hours, 32 minutes.

Jared Slinde, communications director at USA Track & Field, tells the Daily Caller that he looked through Olympic trial results for the years 1984 and 1988 and “did not find Jayne’s name as a finisher in the top ten of any of those Olympic Trials marathons.”

Amanda Brooks, assistant director of communications at the University of Florida, confirmed for the Daily Caller that Surdyka did compete in 5k and 10k events in 1976 and 1977. Brooks said that the marathon is not an NCAA-sanctioned event.

Surdyka could not be reached for comment.

The office of Angela Corey, the state attorney trying the case, told The Daily Caller they could offer no comment on the matter.

Surdyka is one of the residents of the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the town-home complex where Trayvon Martin was ultimately shot and killed by George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder.

Surdyka’s testimony was at times riveting. De la Rionda played her 911 call in which she repeatedly cried out, “Oh my God.” In testimony, she said, “I really felt it was a boy’s voice” of the screams she heard during the altercation between Martin and Zimmerman.

Surdyka also insisted that she heard three shots fired. “I heard from my window like a pop, pop, pop,” she testified.

That contradicts the testimony of others who claim to have heard only one shot. Martin’s body also only had one gun shot wound, and only one shot can be heard in the background of the 911 call placed by another state witness, Jenna Lauer.

Surdyka is one of several state witnesses shown to have credibility issues. Selene Bahadoor was confronted by the defense team with a petition circulated by Martin’s parents asking to “prosecute the killer of our son.” Bahadoor had “liked” that petition online.

In two days of testimony, Rachel Jeantel — Martin’s friend who was on the phone with him moments before his death — admitted to having lied about her age and to lying under oath about her whereabouts during Martin’s wake, which she did not attend.