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Miami Gardens Student Thrust Into Unwanted Spotlight In Zimmerman Trial

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Witness Rachel Jeantel gives her testimony to the prosecution during George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel)

Witness Rachel Jeantel gives her testimony to the prosecution during George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel)

David-Sutta-600x450 David Sutta
David Sutta joined the CBS4 news team in April of 2007. As S...
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Trayvon Martin

MIAMI GARDENS (CBS4) – A Miami Gardens police car is stationed outside Rachel Jeantel’s home.  The 19-year-old has become a celebrity of sorts, after taking the stand in the Trayvon Martin case.

Jeantel was the last to speak to Martin on the night he died.

Until this week, no one knew who she was.  Case documents simply identified her as a witness.  Many reports speculated she was Martin’s girlfriend.  Now after having her face and story broadcast around the world her anonymity is disappearing.

“I didn’t know she was on the phone on him.”  Malique Caper told CBS4.

Caper is Jeantel’s neighbor and friend.  He was also friends with Martin. He’s watched a little bit of the trial and says he was surprised when she took the stand.

Apparently Jeantel kept the entire neighborhood in the dark, only revealing her connection to family members.

“She’s a kid that don’t like the limelight because she barely comes outside.” neighbor Paula McCloud said.

She certainly has the limelight now.  McCloud has known Jeantel since she was a child.  She had no idea the 19-year-old had been on the stand this week, until CBS4 told her.

“It’s too sad to watch.  Knowing the kid.  Knowing I have a kid around that age.  It’s sad.  And I think it was very unfair.” McCloud said.

On several occasions lawyers have accused Jeantel of repeatedly lying. Defense attorneys tried to discredit her credibility has created interesting courtroom drama.

Neighbors though told us they aren’t buying it.

McCloud explained, “Rachel?  Rachel is very truthful.  I mean she is so innocent.”

Caper told us the same.

“I don’t think she storying.  I don’t think she’s storying.  I don’t think she’s lying.”

When asked why?

“Because that was her friend.  She ain’t gonna lie.” he replied.

Jeantel is clearly uncomfortable on the stand, being interrogated and having to speak publically about all this.

It’s likely not over.  She is expected to return home from Sanford soon.

McCloud says she is proud of her.  “That was her friend and that’s the right thing to do. I’m pretty proud of her.”

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