MIAMI (CBS4) – As much of America was glued to their televisions during the Zimmerman trial over the past few weeks, there was one figure that garnered much attention and controversy.
Rachel Jeantel, the South Florida high school student and friend of Trayvon Martin who was the last person to speak with Martin, has been ostracized by the court of public opinion, her character attacked along with her appearance.
The childhood friend of Martin, Jeantel sat down with CBS 4’s Summer Knowles for an exclusive interview, explaining how her perspective on the night Trayvon was shot and killed.
“Trayvon say ‘why are you following me’ and then this man, oh my god, saying ‘what you doing around here’. That was the last time we talked. It still feels awkward to me, like wow, that really happened because I never saw it coming. I’m just in shock right now,” explained Jeantel.
But the moment of truth seemed to transpire for Jeantel in the ten o’clock hour on Saturday July 13th, 2013. That is when the jurors, whom we have finally begun to hear from this evening, came to a verdict and Jeantel seemingly found herself in shock and disbelief.
“In my mind ok I thought it was going to be a lesser charge,” said Jeantel.
‘Manslaughter?’ Knowles asked.
“Yeah, manslaughter or something like that,” said Jeantel.
‘So that’s what you were expecting?’ asked Knowles.
“Yeah, because they had asked for manslaughter information, right? Clarification on it. So I was like ‘yeah, ok we gonna do it! We are getting justice! Oh, thank you Jesus’, and all that!” said Jeantel.
But that feeling subsided shortly thereafter, and then came the verdict .
“You want me to be honest? I was sleeping. Lying down because I knew what it was, I had a feeling. I was lying in my room. My auntie just came in my room and busted out crying and said ‘we didn’t get no justice. It’s like the old days, we just lost another child, we just lost Trayvon again’.”
The loss of Trayvon is something Jeantel is just now attempting to come to grips with, it wasn’t until she walked into that courtroom to take the stand and was face- to- face with George Zimmerman that the loss of her friend began to seep in along with the possibility Zimmerman might not be convicted.
“He looked like someone who didn’t really care, like ‘yep I did it’,” said Jeantel.
At the time of her testimony, which was such a very trying moment for this young woman, the public weighed in quite heavily not on what she said, but how she sounded saying it, even how she looked and her attitude while she testified.
Knowles asked Rachel what she would say to those who’ve been gossiping about her.
“Keep tweeting and keep commenting and trying to bring me down. Trust me, you just bring me up. I did my part. My phone is just ringing, ringing, ringing and on my Twitter and Facebook. I’m so happy, because I’ve got my haters ringing, ringing, ringing! I’m like ok. At least they are paying attention, but I advise you, if they were in my position, would they do that? Would they say that?” said Jeantel.
Although seeming to tread through some anxious sentiment, Jeantel offered these words to those who have judged her unfairly.
“I had to do this and that and read my thing again and all that mess in the background, but when I come in person you wanna attack me, are you saying I wasn’t there for him? I didn’t do nothing for him? Don’t attack me like that because you don’t know me.”
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