In one of the most eventful days so far in the trial of George Zimmerman, a friend of Trayvon Martin took the stand to testify about what she heard while on the phone with the teenager during the final moments of his life.
Trayvon was on his cell phone talking to Rachel Jeantel moments before being gunned down in the Sanford, FL neighborhood. According to testimony giving by 19-year-old Jeantel, Trayvon feared for his safety while Zimmerman followed him as he walked through the neighborhood. She testified ”he said the man kept watching him. He kept complaining that a man was just watching him.”
The man that Trayvon was so concerned about ended up being the same man who would take his life. After numerous warnings from the 911 dispatcher Zimmerman continued to pursue Martin until the two had a confrontation which ended with Trayvon being shot and killed.
Jeantel was supposed to be one of the prosecuting attorney’s star witnesses because she heard everything that happened on that rainy night in February 2012. She testified about hearing Martin talking to Zimmerman, and how she heard Trayvon’s cell phone hitting the ground during the altercation. She told prosecutors that Trayvon described Zimmerman as a ’Creepy, white’ — excuse my language — ‘cracker. Creepy ass cracker.”
“He said, ‘Why are you following me for?’ And I heard a hard-breathing man say, ‘What you doing around here?’” said Jeantel.
“I start hearing a little bit of Trayvon saying, ‘Get off, get off!’” said Jeantel.
Jeantel’s testimony has been replayed on all of the cable networks tonight, and the one thing that continues to run through my mind is that this young lady was the absolute last person to ever speak to Trayvon Martin. Not his mother, not his father, but a friend who is now forced to tell his side of the story through her own account of the events that transpired. Trayvon doesn’t have a voice in this case. So, it’s left up to this young lady to not only tell his side of the story, but to also give us all an idea of what his state of mind was during those final moments of his young life.
There were some questionable moments in Jeantel’s testimony. After two hours of questioning, when defense attorney Don West suggested that the court take a break until the next morning Jeantel’s frustration surfaced and her reply was “No, I’m leaving today.” West then asked “Are you refusing to come back tomorrow?” The judge presiding over the case then intervened and advised West to keep his questions in line with the actual testimony.
There were also questions about Jeantel honesty. She initially told investigators that she was 16 at the time of the shooting and not 18 because she wanted to be investigated as a minor. Jeantel also lied about attending Trayvon’s memorial service. She told investigators that she was at the hospital during the memorial service, when the truth was that she did not go to the memorial because she was afraid to see Trayvon’s body.
“You got to understand, you the last person to talk to the person and he died on the phone after you talked to him — you got to understand what I’m trying to tell you,” said a visibly distressed Jeantel. In an attempt to make her point, she said ”I’m the last person, you don’t know how it felt. You think I really want to go see the body after I just talked to him?”
While many TV analysts and legal experts are focusing on the fact that Jeantel handled the defense attorney’s cross examination in a less than spectacular form, I think the testimony by this young lady could be used as a teaching tool for parents. We have got to teach our kids that not only does association bring assimilation, but they also need to understand the relationship between association and EXPLANATION! Because God forbid if something were to happen to your child while they are with a friend, that friend needs to be able to effectively communicate exactly what happened while your child was in their presence. We need to teach our children to let their friends know who to call and what to do if something does happen to them. This way, if a crisis does happen we have prepared them for what the most logical steps should be. Being able to explain who, what, when, where, and why seems like basic communication, but you would be surprised at how many people just look over those things when a crisis occurs. We are living in a time when every single detail matters. It’s not simply about who your friends are any more, it’s about who they are, what they say, and how their actions reflect upon you.
At the time of the Trayvon Marting shooting I’m sure Rachel Jeantel had no idea that she would be sitting in a courtroom being watched and scrutinized by America. As we hang on to every word that she says, she is probably wishing that she had one more moment with Trayvon. But the harsh reality is that she won’t ever get that moment. Nothing that she can do or say will bring Trayvon back. So the best thing for her to do now is to honor her friend by remaining calm during this storm, and telling the jury his story the way that he would want it to be told…the way that it should be told.