Day 4 of the Zimmerman trial began with Rachel Jeantel returning for the remainder of her current testimony.  She was much less attitudinal, but denied being talked to about being more respectful in court.  She stated that when she got home, she went to sleep.  She talked about the letter that she wrote Sybrina Fulton.  Here it is paraphrased:

I was on the phone when Trayvon decided to go to the corner store.  It started to rain, so he decided to walk through another complex because it was raining too hard.  He started walking then noticed someone was following him.  Then, he decided to find a shortcut because the man wouldn’t follow him.  Then he said the man wouldn’t follow him again.  Then he looked back and saw the man again.  The man started to get closer.  Then Trayvon turned around and said why you following me?  Then the phone fell.  I called back and there was no answer.  I thought it was just a fight, but then I found out.  Thank you, Diamond Eugene.

The Benjamin Crump interview was taken on March 12, 2012.  She told Sybrina Fulton that the man said in response, “what you doing around here?”  But, she admitted that earlier she told Benjamin Crump, Martin family attorney, the man responded to Trayvon Martin, “what are you talking about?”  She was questioned by the defense about her statement that it was a “racial thing” on the Crump recording.  She testified that Mr. Crump had asked her that, she didn’t just come out and say that.  She acknowledged that it isn’t on the recording that way.  This implies that Mr. Crump stopped and started the recording while interviewing Rachel Jeantel.  The defense tried to point out that saying “cracker” is racist, but she denied that.  She denied not telling Ms. Fulton about Trayvon Martin saying it because it was offensive.  She claimed that “creepy” referred to a pervert.  On re-direct by the prosecution, she claimed that “cracker” is just cultural to her age group.

Well, if you don’t know what “cracker” is, it is in fact a racist expression for white people.  It originated as discriminatory references for poor white people of Ireland and the south, including Florida.  I can’t believe they actually want people to believe that this is just a cultural thing.  So, all 19-year-olds in Miami say this?  Well, we do realize that in the 1960s, the South was full of people who had a certain culture as well, correct?  Racism is racism and all racial slurs or terms should be wiped from our vocabulary.  No one should be saying them for any reason.  There is no excuse.  After we accomplish that, we can wipe “bully terms” from our vocabulary as well.  Hate speech is hate speech and I understand that everyone has a First Amendment right and I support that.  But, didn’t your mother tell you; if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

Just like the other witness, she stated that she didn’t answer certain questions previously because no one asked her that specifically.  She admitted to never telling anyone the description that Trayvon Martin gave of George Zimmerman (“creepy, a**, cracker”) until the defense deposed her under oath.  She stated she didn’t think that it was important.  She also couldn’t recall if Trayvon Martin used the term “cracker” often.  She testified that she met with prosecutors for the first time on April 2nd and that was also the first time she ever met with law enforcement.  She testified that she knew law enforcement had been looking for her, but they couldn’t find her because Trayvon Martin’s parents only knew her alias, Diamond Eugene.  The defense pointed out that Martin’s mother could have given the police her phone number, but never did.

Even though previously she testified several times she never watches the news, she stated today that after March 19th when her voice was airing on television, she started watching the news.  In a news interview with ABC, she told them that her name was DeDe.  This was before she met with any type of law enforcement, prosecutors or police.  She reiterated that she didn’t tell Mr. Crump everything because he wasn’t a police officer and that she had told Ms. Fulton that if they wanted the whole story she would tell it to police.  She also didn’t tell Mr. Crump that Trayvon Martin said, “get off, get off.”  She clarified what she meant by “from the back”, she stated that Trayvon Martin was going to run to the back of his father’s fiancé’s house.  Only 20 seconds elapsed from when Trayvon Martin started to run and the phone cut off to when she called Martin back.  At that time, her belief was that he was very close to home because he didn’t want to run anymore and he stated he was close.  She testified that he was breathing hard and sounded tired.  He began to whisper to her.  A couple of minutes later, he told her that he saw the man again.  He told her that he was close behind him.  She testified that’s when Trayvon Martin decided to ask the man “why you following me for?”, the man responded, and then she heard a “bump.”  However, during her interview with Mr. Crump, she stated that last thing she heard was a sound like “something hitting somebody.”

She testified, “Trayvon got hit.”

“You don’t know that, do you?” West asked.

“No sir,” said Jeantel.

“You don’t know if Trayvon got hit, do you?” asked West.

“No sir,” said Jeantel.

“You don’t know that Trayvon didn’t, at that moment, take his fist and drive it into George Zimmerman’s face, do you?”

“No sir,” said Jeantel.

Later during her testimony, she denies this exchange, saying, “you didn’t get that from me.”  I’m fairly positive that the jury will notice this.  She went on to say when questioned by West about Trayvon Martin confronting George Zimmerman and her knowledge about that:

“If he was going to confront the man he would have told me, ‘I am about to confront the man and see what he wants.’ He did not tell me that, sir…” said Jeantel.

She told the jury that Trayvon Martin wouldn’t have let her be on the phone with him if he was going to fight with someone.  Don West tried to get her to acknowledge that if Trayvon Martin stated that Zimmerman was behind him, then he would have to turn around to ask him “why you following me for?”, but she stuck to her story in that regard.  In court, there was some confusion about what she was saying in the recorded conversation with the prosecution.  The defense and prosecution transcripts matched, but she denied saying that statement and testified that the transcript was wrong.  The discrepancy is about whom she heard saying, “get off”.

Prosecution:  “Could you tell who was saying that?”

Response:  “I couldn’t hear Trayvon” or “I coulda heard Trayvon” (She testified in court she said, “I could hear Trayvon.”)

She was questioned further by the defense about where Trayvon Martin was that night.  Jeantel has never been to the complex where the incident occurred.  She stated he said he was close to home.  The defense questioned it, presumably, because of where the body was found and where the witnesses witnessed what they saw and heard, in relation to where his father’s fiancé lives.  She responded, “Why would he lie?”  The defense was stopped by the judge from inquiring with the witness about her statement in deposition with the prosecution:

Prosecution:  “Did he get out of the car?”

Response:  “You want that to?”

The prosecution tried to save her testimony by pointing out that the transcripts had other discrepancies as well, like Trayvon being misspelled.  Ms. Jeantel was dismissed, subject to recall.

The next witness was Raymond MacDonald from T-Mobile.  He laid the foundation for the phone records being admitted into evidence.

The next witness was Jenna Lauer, a neighbor, and ear-witness.  Her 911 call is the one in which the screaming in the background can be heard.  She had been out at her grandfather’s birthday celebration before returning to her home.  She stated that she was watching TV around 7 pm with her husband.  It was steady raining all day long.  The sliding glass door was open, but the blinds on the porch were down.  She heard voices in the backyard, loudly talking.  They were in 3 bursts, like a conversation.  Example, voice 1, voice 2, voice 1.  She couldn’t tell what words were being said or how many people there were.  She assumed by the conversational banter that it was 2 people.  They both had the same volume and they sounded flustered, not confrontational.  She heard these voices off to the left of her house, near the t-intersection.  She then muted the television.

After that, she heard scuffling sounds and sneakers on pavement and grass.  She testified that it would be like if you were playing basketball on the concrete.  She stated that you commonly hear people walking their dogs, but not usually in the rain.  She testified there was no gap between muting her television and hearing the scuffling.  After that, she heard the noises gradually become a “grunting” sound.  She stated that at first it sounded like people standing up and then it sounded like wrestling that was getting closer to her home.  She never looked out or saw anything.  She called 911 as soon as she heard the scuffling.  It was about 30 seconds.  At that point, it had turned into “yelps”.  There were perhaps a couple of yelps before the call connected.  She then moved to the stairs, so that the people outside couldn’t hear her calling on them.

Her husband went to the kitchen to get a knife and then he was going to circle around the house using the front door.  She testified that was his first instinct.  She stated that he couldn’t find a knife because he didn’t know where they were at, so he never made it out.  While they were both in the kitchen, the yelps turned into “helps”.  She wanted to make sure he didn’t get involved, so she tried to stop him and then the gunshot went off.  They both went upstairs.  She also heard her neighbor open his door and go outside.  She heard him say, something along the lines of, what the hell are you doing?

The prosecution questioned her about her address.  She stated that at certain points on the sidewalk, you couldn’t see her house number due to the bushes and her husband’s pickup truck blocking it.

She testified that she was a member of the HOA (Home Owner’s Association) and that she never formally met George Zimmerman, but saw him at about 3 meetings.  She testified that there are only 3 streets in the neighborhood.  She also testified that she was aware that they were starting a neighborhood watch program and that George Zimmerman was a part of it, but she didn’t know who was in charge.  She couldn’t identify who was yelling for help.

“I didn’t hear him yell like that in meetings.”

She also testified that the yelling stopped immediately after the gun shot.

On cross-examination, Ms. Lauer testified that the screams were so loud that they sounded like they were in her living room.  The defense questioned her on why you couldn’t hear the neighbor yelling on the 911 call.  They were trying to point out that you can’t hear everything that happened that night on the 911 call or in the house because on direct, the prosecution asked her if she ever heard anyone say, “I’m going to kill you motherf*****.”  On cross-examination, the defense asked her if she ever heard anyone say, “Why you following me for?”  She answered no to all of the statements.  She couldn’t hear what the voices were saying.  She testified that perhaps her neighbor was too far away or not as loud as the yelling.  She was asked about George Zimmerman’s admission to shooting Trayvon Martin.  She testified that she didn’t think it was a bad thing and that she would be more concerned if he had run away.  She thought he was just telling the police he had a gun, so they would know.

She testified that later, her and her husband approached police and they were asked if they could identify Zimmerman.  She stated she didn’t want to approach the car, so she asked them to take a picture.  This is the photo with Zimmerman’s nose bleeding.  She couldn’t ID him that night even though she had seen him before.

He didn’t look the same, “obviously there’s a lot going on there.”

She testified that they did have problems with people who didn’t live in the neighborhood using it as a shortcut because the perimeter wasn’t secure.  She also testified that it was dark that night and that there are no street signs anywhere near her home.  She testified that George Zimmerman never, in her experience, was upset or angry.  He didn’t seem like he wanted to start the watch program to become a vigilante crew.  He didn’t seem like a hothead.  He wasn’t inappropriate at the meetings.  There were no red flags about him being in the neighborhood watch.  She testified that she thought his involvement in the neighborhood watch was to benefit the community.

After her testimony finished, she was proffered, out of the presence of the jury.  The prosecution argued that they were surprised by the defense’s questions on reputation (“character evidence”).  The defense stated that they asked her perception, not his reputation.  The prosecution would like to introduce “prior bad acts”, which are a temporary restraining order and a battery charge from 2005.  Ms. Lauer was aware of both.

Character evidence and prior bad act evidence are tricky because of their irrelevant and extremely prejudicial nature.  Usually, character evidence about a defendant can only be put forward if the defense introduces it first, so that the prosecution has a chance to answer it.  Prior bad act evidence must specifically be related and set up a pattern of behavior.

The defense, during the proffer, asked her if she knew that George Zimmerman also had a restraining order against his girlfriend and that a judge dismissed them both.  They also asked her if she was aware that the battery charge was an incident in which an ATF agent was accosting his friend at a bar and Zimmerman tried to help.  It was downgraded to a misdemeanor and George Zimmerman successfully completed a diversion program to have it cleared from his record.  She answered yes that she was aware of those things happening, but not the details about them.  The prosecution also oddly proffered about her possibly following Robert Zimmerman Jr. on Twitter.  She has 0 tweets on her account and was adamant that she doesn’t know how to use it and it was probably an accident.  It really didn’t seem like the prosecution had any clue on how to use twitter either.   She also stated that she would never do that, she purposefully didn’t talk to media or involve herself in those things because she knew she would be testifying.  She is also friends with Frank Taffey on Facebook.  He is friends with George Zimmerman.  She reiterated that she doesn’t know Zimmerman and that she is friends with Taffey, because he is her neighbor.

The interesting thing is how fast people on social media attack others.  Right after her testimony finished, I saw tweets about how she is a lying b****.  Even though the twitter thing is just proffer, it is not proven, but some people think what attorneys say in court is proof (despite it not being evidence, just an opinion).  People are also tweeting about how she disproved Zimmerman’s inability to know the address from the road.  I guess people know this despite her testimony that there are no road signs and it was dark that night (as the pictures show, pitch black).  I guess people didn’t hear this because it was on cross and these people must only listen to prosecutors.  How fair and judicious.  Presumably, the admissibility of the proffered testimony will be argued at a later date, since the prosecution said they were unprepared to argue it today.  I’m unsure where the prosecution is going with this loosely based possibly “bias” evidence.  She is their own witness and her testimony was simply middle of the road.  She was dismissed, subject to recall.

The last witness of the day was Selma Mora, a Spanish-speaking woman.  The jury was read the interpreter jury instruction and the interpreter took the oath to tell the truth as well.  She lived, at the time, with her two children, her friend, Mary Kutcher, and her child.  She was home that night alone with Mary.  She stated it was rainy and dark.  She was making coffee in the kitchen, which faced the courtyard where the incident occurred.  She heard sounds behind the home, a crying from the right.  She couldn’t estimate the distance.  It was soft and low.  Her window, in her kitchen, was halfway open.  She looked out, but it was too dark to see anything.  She then heard a “dry sound”, she could only describe it like a “child falling”.  She stated she then heard a sound that sounded like a “long board” or skateboard hitting the cement sidewalk.  It was like a “thump” sound.  She testified that she has heard this before because kids play in that area.  This was actually the gun shot.  She testified that had she known it was a gunshot she would not have gone outside.  Her back porch was screened waste high because her daughter had a dog.  She quickly went outside, which she demonstrated in court for the jury.  She went from the kitchen around the wall and to the sliding glass door, which was partially open.  She squeezed through and made it onto her patio, where she leaned around a column to look and see what was happening.

She could only see the “silhouettes” of 2 people.  There was not enough light coming from the homes to see anything else.  She saw the two people approximately where Trayvon Martin’s body was found.  She did not hear the crying anymore.  She could see one person on the ground and the other one on top like a “horse rider”.  His knees were touching the ground, he was almost in the same position as the person lying on the ground.  She couldn’t tell gender or race of either person.  She could only see a pattern between blacks and reds.  The two people were facing away from her toward the t-intersection.  She testified that the person on top must have been supporting himself, she assumed, because of his position.  She couldn’t see what that person was doing with their hands though.  She couldn’t see if the person on the ground was face up or face down, but when she first looked around the column, she saw the person’s legs move or “shutter”.

She stated that she yelled out, “what’s going on?” in English.  No one responded, but the person on top did look over.  She yelled it again, but no one responded again.  She yelled a third time, the same phrase, and the person responded, “just call the police.”  She then saw the person on top get up and walk a few steps away toward the t-intersection (trash receptacle).  She could then see it was a man.  He paced 2 or 3 times away from the body and back towards the body.  He put his one hand on his head and the other on his hip as he paced.  He didn’t appear to have trouble walking.  He didn’t say anything that she could hear.  She could then also see that the person on the ground was face down.  She then saw a man with a flashlight approach George Zimmerman.

Her friend, Mary, yelled out that someone had been shot.  That’s when she noticed a female neighbor come out of her house.  She testified that she yelled at her to go back into her home and then she proceeded back into her home where her friend, Mary, was already calling 911.  The police came to the house later that night, but only talked to her friend.  About 4 days later, she talked to police and gave a statement.  She testified that she has never met either Zimmerman or Martin before and that she lived in that house since 2007.

On cross-examination, she testified that she could not distinguish the original noises because she wasn’t expecting them.  She acknowledged that the cries she heard could be the screams in the background of the other 911 call.  The defense drove home the point, again, that you couldn’t hear this witness yelling on any 911 calls either.  She stated that if anyone’s call caught her voice it would have been her friend’s, but she couldn’t be sure if she yelled out to the person before her friend called.

She was asked to clarify what she said in her deposition.  In her deposition, she stated that she thought the man was “confused”, but in testimony today, she thought the man seemed “concerned.”  Before being shown her deposition, she didn’t recall thinking he was confused.  Afterwards, she said that a lot of words could be used to describe what she saw, but she didn’t want to put words in the person’s mouth or thoughts in their head.

She testified that she thought he was thinking more along the lines of, “what just happened?”


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