SANFORD, Florida (USA TODAY) -- A friend of Trayvon Martin who was on the telephone
with the teen in the last moments of his life testified Thursday that
she thought his encounter with murder defendant George Zimmerman was
Rachel Jeantel testified that she believed race was an issue because Martin told her he was being followed by a white man.
Jeantel's comments came on the second day of her testimony in the
second-degree murder case against Zimmerman as she was being grilled
under cross-examination by defense attorney Don West, who suggested that
she had not talked about racial issues in some previous statements to
police, attorneys and correspondence with Martin's family.
contentious questioning by West, Jeantel said their were inconsistencies
because of some of the questions posed by state attorneys and law
enforcement officials as well as the length of the interviews. She also
said she omitted some details of what she knew because she was trying to
spare Martin's family grief.
Link: Rachel Jeantel's Twitter MsRachel_94 (warning *GRAPHIC CONTENT*)
Link: Rachel Jeantel's deleted tweets (warning *GRAPHIC CONTENT*)
Jeantel, 19, testified
Wednesday that she was on the phone with Trayvon right before he was
killed and that he had told her that Zimmerman stared at and then came
after the teen, who tried several times to run away.
has been visibly agitated at times during West's cross-examination. At
one point three hours into testimony Thursday, she said "that's real
retarded" responding to a West suggestion that Martin had been lying
during his phone conversation with her.
West says he
believes state attorneys "walked her down a path" to get her to say
Trayvon was saying "get off" to Zimmerman as they were fighting before
he was shot. Jeantel, however, was adamant that she said Trayvon was
followed and that the young man was saying "get off" before her call
with him ended.
Jeantel is one of three state
witnesses who've painted Zimmerman as the aggressor in the deadly
confrontation that later sparked racial controversy and protests around
"A man was watching him," Jeantel said Wednesday. "He (Trayvon) told me he was going to try to lose him."
See Also: Rachel Jeantel's Twitter account scrubbed
More: Trayvon described Zimmerman as "creepy-a** cracker"
29, says he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Martin in a
gated community, minutes after calling police to report that he was
following a suspicious person. The prosecution says Zimmerman profiled
and murdered the black teen. If convicted of second-degree murder,
Zimmerman could be sentenced to life in prison.
during testimony Wednesday that she had lied twice to authorities: She
said she told Trayvon's family she was 16, when she was 18. She also
said she lied about going to a hospital instead of Trayvon's funeral
because she didn't want to see his body.
Jeantel, who exchanged
hundreds of calls and text messages with Trayvon during their
friendship, said he called her as he was walking back from 7-Eleven on
the night of the Feb. 26, 2012 killing. During their conversation
Trayvon said a "creepy" man was staring at him and wanted to get away,
Later, the man began following Trayvon so the teen
ran through the gated community to try to get away, said Jeantel, who
wore all black to court.
The teen was out of breath when Trayvon
told Jeantel he had lost the man. Shortly after, Trayvon told Jeantel
the man was back and behind him, she said.
"I told him you better run," Jeantel said, but within moments she heard two voices.
Jeantel recalled Trayvon saying, "Why are you following me?"
She continued: "Then I heard a hard breathing man say what are you doing around here?"
then heard a bump and heard Trayvon saying "get off, get off," she
said. Seconds later, the phone hung up and when Jeantel called back no
Three days later, Jeantel said she learned Trayvon
was dead. "I had thought he was close by his daddy's house so someone
would come help him," she said, visibly upset.
In the next few
weeks, she was contacted by Trayvon's family and their attorney who
convinced her to talk about the conversation. Jeantel said she didn't
think her role would be significant because she heard Zimmerman,
Trayvon's killer, had been arrested.
Wednesday, jurors, the judge,
and courtroom onlookers all leaned in closely through Jeantel's
riveting testimony. At times, the court reporter and jurors struggled to
hear her. One juror, E6, spoke up during Jeantel's testimony and saying
she couldn't hear what the young woman was saying.
residents who lived nearby the scene of the shooting testified that they
believe Trayvon was yelling for help and being beaten by Zimmerman
before he died.
The witnesses, former neighbors of Zimmerman's in
the Retreat at Twin Lakes apartment complex, described trying to make
out what was going on outside their windows on the night of the
Jayne Surdyk testified that she believes she heard Trayvon Martin screaming for help shortly before being shot.
was in an upstairs bedroom when the sound of loud voices caught her
attention. Startled, Surdyka minutes later opened a window, she said,
and heard a "dominant aggressive voice" and a lighter voice from "a
She said it was dark and raining so she couldn't see clearly who the people were.
"I could see two people on the ground, one on top of each other," Surdyka said. "They were wrestling or shuffling."
Then she said she heard two cries for help. "They were excruciating," she said. "I felt like it was the boy's voice."
Prosecutors later played Surdyka's 911 call. In it, the woman is heard crying and describing hearing shots.
Surdyka said she was making assumptions when she said the voice was
coming from a young man. She also admitted that she went on CNN in
disguise to describe what she saw.
Jeannee Manalo another resident
of the gated community, said she thought she saw George Zimmerman on
top of Trayvon Martin during a struggle.
Manalo said she heard
howling, then someone yelling "help" closer. She believes she saw a
larger man on top of a smaller man. After watching the news, Manalo said
she compared photos of a young Trayvon wearing a hoodie and a football
jersey to photos of Zimmerman's full body taken by police.
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