The prosecution in George Zimmerman’s murder trial called star witness Rachel Jeantel “not a very sophisticated person,” but one who was telling the truth about Zimmerman following Trayvon Martin before he was shot and killed.
Jeantel was on the phone with the 17-year-old in the moments before he died, and testified that Martin told her he was being followed. She spent six hours on the witness stand, which prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda alleged was a tactic meant to try and discredit her.
“Now, this young lady — and I will submit to you is not a very sophisticated person, she’s not the most educated, but she’s a human being and she spoke the best she could,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the jury. “She happens to be, what, Haitian, or of Haitian descent. Made a big deal about ‘oh, you can’t read cursive.’ Yeah, she can’t, unfortunately. She’s what, 18, 19? But did what she tell you, as best she could, and maybe her English wasn’t the best, her speech, her language was a little colorful…but did she speak the truth? Because when you think of it, she was the person that was speaking to the victim.”
Jeantel described how Martin said a “creepy-ass cracker” was following him, a phrase that drew particular scrutiny from the defense, who suggested it was Martin, not Zimmerman, who injected race into the confrontation.
“She could have embellished, she could have lied about what the victim said…her use of colorful language doesn’t mean that her testimony is less credible, just because she’s not a highly educated individual,” de la Rionda said.
“She spent hours on that witness stand, why?” he continued. “An attempt to discredit her in some way? You decide whether she’s telling the truth.”
De La Rionda told the jury Zimmerman “profiled” Martin as a criminal and made false assumptions about him.
“A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own,” de la Rionda said. “He is dead because another man made assumptions. That man assumed certain things. …Unfortunately because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this Earth.”
Zimmerman’s defense attorneys will make their closing argument Friday morning, after which the case will go to the jury. In addition to the second-degree murder charge that Zimmerman faces, jurors will be permitted to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter as well.