SANFORD (CBSMiami) – When the state’s star witness in the George Zimmerman murder trial took the stand for a second day, Rachel Jeantel was in for hours of rough cross examination.
Jeantel was on the phone with 17-year old Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman in a gated townhome community in Sanford.
Thursday testimony began with an admission by Jeantel that she was not able to read a letter that someone helped her write to Martin’s parents.
When asked if she could read any of the words, Jeantel replied “I don’t understand cursive. I don’t read cursive.”
Despite that, the defense pointed out, she signed the letter. In it she spelled out what she heard on the phone while speaking to Martin shortly before he died. Zimmerman has admitted to shooting the Miami area teen. He has claimed it was self defense.
Under cross examination, Zimmerman’s attorney pointed out Jeantel left out key information to the family and even Martin family attorney Ben Crump. She never said she heard Martin yelling “Get off, get off” during a struggle before the shooting.
“You weren’t worried about telling him all the truth,” asked attorney Don West.
“First off, Crump is not law enforcement, he’s not an officer, I knew that he was not an officer,” said Jeantel. “Like I told the mother from the beginning, if an officer want to talk to me, know the exact story or anything about what happened that night, they could reach me at my number. Got it.”
The phrase “Get off, get off” was a major topic of day. West tried to prove that Jeantel really didn’t know if it was Martin or Zimmerman saying it. He played taped deposition that he said raised the question.
“What could you hear,” he asked.
“Like a little ‘get off’, some stuff, like a little ‘get off’,” said Jeantel.
“Could you tell who was saying that,” asked West.
“Trayvon,” she replied.
“Let me understand this, you could hear Trayvon saying that,” asked West.
“That’s why I was calling his name,” said Jeantel.
At one point, West tried to get Jeantel to say that Zimmerman was not the aggressor the night Trayvon was killed but rather it was her friend who threw the first punch.
‘I thought you said that it could have been, for all you know, Trayvon Martin smashing George Zimmerman in the fact, is what you actually heard,” West told the teen.
“What,” replied Jeantel.
“Yah, just earlier today,” said West.
“By who,” asked Jeantel.
“You ain’t got that from me,” said Jeantel.
When asked by West if she had previously told investigators that she heard what sounded like somebody being hit at the end of her call with Martin, Jeantel said, “Trayvon got hit.”
“You don’t know that? Do you? You don’t know that Trayvon got hit,” West answered angrily. “You don’t know that Trayvon didn’t at that moment take his fists and drive them into George Zimmerman’s face.”
Later in the morning, West accused Jeantel of not calling police after Martin’s phone went dead because she thought it was a fight he had provoked.
“That’s why you weren’t worried. That’s why you didn’t do anything because Trayvon Martin started the fight, and you knew that,” West said.
“No sir!” Jeantel said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. Zimmerman followed Martin in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight.
Zimmerman has said he opened fire only after the teenager jumped him and began slamming his head against the concrete sidewalk. Zimmerman has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin’s family and their supporters have claimed.
Jeantel testified Thursday that she thought race was an issue because Martin told her he was being followed by a white man.
But West responded, “It was racial because Trayvon put race in this?”
She answered no.
After Jeantel left the witness stand, a mobile phone manager testified about Martin’s cell phone records and a former neighbor of Zimmerman testified she heard yelps for help outside her townhome on the night Martin was shot. Jenna Lauer said she couldn’t tell who was screaming.
“They were being hurt,” Lauer said, describing the person screaming.
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