Were you cringing in your seat listening to the testimony of Rachel Jeantel during the George Zimmerman trial?

Did you scream at the television as she sparred with the defense attorney during cross-examination?

Did you find yourself cheering her on? Or were you embarrassed by her demeanor, attitude, frustration, facial expressions?

Did you wonder why public schools are failing our children?

Did it make you feel like we have soooooooo much work to do in our communities?

These are just some of the questions I had in my head during the testimony of Witness #8, the key witness for the prosecution in the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Fl. .

Jeantel was on the phone with Trayvon Martin right before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman (who is claiming it was self-defense). She was the last person to speak to Martin before he died and her testimony is crucial.

Did she know how crucial her testimony was to this case? Had she been prepared properly to take the stand by the prosecuting attorneys? Why would she be so hostile towards the defense attorneys?

I will tell you why: Because she would rather have been any other place on the planet than in court testifying about the night her childhood friend was gunned down.

And in the end, all of those things I mentioned above don’t matter.

Jeantel is not on trial! Her attitude is not on trial! Her low tone of voice and mumbling diction is not on trial! Her admitted inability to read cursive handwriting is not on trial!

ZIMMERMAN is on trial, and the testimony she provided relating to what she heard the night she was on the phone with Martin is the only information we need from her.

So, I ask: Did she deliver the testimony needed to establish that Zimmerman was profiling and stalking Trayvon? That Zimmerman was the aggressor? Did she shed any light on the events of the night of Feb. 26th that will negate the assertion that he was acting in self-defense?

My answer is YES!

What Jeantel did for the prosecution was establish that Martin was being followed and he was creeped out by it!

So much so he even called Zimmerman a “creepy ass cracker” – which establishes Trayvon was nervous, scared and worried; not that he was tossing racial slurs back and forth with Zimmerman or that he was a racist himself.

She establishes that the unarmed 17-year-old was trying to get his dad’s fiancee’s townhouse fast, and was running to avoid the scary stalker.

When they got disconnected, Jeantel called Martin back and he sounded tired from having been running and starting to walk fast (which may have been how he ended up confronting Zimmerman.

Jeantel established that she heard Martincreaming “Get off! Get Off!” ALL STRONG TESTIMONY FOR THE PROSECUTION!

Of course, the defense jumped all on top of her credibility, poking holes in her testimony, pointing out times when she may have lied about her age or where she was. The defense took potshots at her comprehension of her town testimony, and tried to change her words to fit the story they are trying to tell.


The expensive suits that scream “we are not from the same place!” the sophisticated legal-language-projecting in the courtroom and the condescending nature of the defense attorney’s tone was enough to make any person crumble; but Jeantel handled the grilling as best she could.

And on her second day of testimony she seemed more reserved, adding the word “Sir” after answering any question asked by the defense. (That gesture alone was a signal that someone told her to clean up her act on the stand).

And I chuckled each time she said, “No, sir.” Because the addition of “Sir” at the end of every answer did not change Jeantel at all, it just made for great TV.

Regardless of your feelings about Jeantel, her circumstance or her testimony, it only matters what the jury made up mostly of white women and mothers feel about this young girl.

I believe some will have compassion for her and believe her statements to be relevant and persuasive. Others will judge her circumstance and dismiss her as a liar.

We will have to wait and see…

Mo Ivory, CBS Local


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