True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
Rachel Jeantel was the star witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial. She has been widely criticized by the public for her lack of education, lack of articulation, slang speech and overall appearance. All of that is completely irrelevant to this case, and sadly just mean spirited. What concerns me and what should actually be discussed is her credibility.
She was the last person to ever speak to Trayvon Martin before his death on February 26, 2012. She spoke to him on his cell phone for several hours that day up until one minute before he was shot, proven by the phone records in court. She testified on the stand that Trayvon said to George “why are you following me?” and that George’s response was “what are you doing around here?”. She then heard a thud, heard the sound of wet grass and could faintly hear “get off, get off”. She stated that she believes it was Trayvon saying get off.
George’s statement was that he was on the sidewalk walking back to his truck, after he had hung up with the non-emergency operator, when Trayvon jumped out from the bushes. They were at the “T” intersection of the sidewalk. He later clarified that he didn’t actually know where he jumped out of because it was so dark and he just reappeared seemingly out of nowhere. The lighting conditions in that back courtyard were very poor which made it difficult for many of the witnesses to see exactly what happened. This is another reason why John Good is such a valuable witness. He was by far the closest person to actually see the fight. Many people consider George’s statement about the bushes to be a major inconsistency. In light of the rest of the statements and evidence, it really is just a minor detail. What was more important was that he was consistent with where it happened and when it happened. That never changed.
George states that as Trayvon came out of the darkness, he walked up to George and said “you got a problem mother fucker?”. George backed up a little, said he didn’t have a problem and started to reach for his phone. Martin then said “you got a problem now” and punched him in the face. He fell to the ground. From there, it was a flurry of struggling, trying to get up, that culminated in Trayvon on top of George punching his head. They were on the grass, with part of Zimmerman’s head on the paved sidewalk. Trayvon was banging his head in to the pavement and putting his hands over his mouth and nose. This is consistent with the activity that John Good saw from his back porch. Again, John Good is the resident of the townhome where the shooting happened.
So Rachel’s account of what was said before the confrontation started does not match up with George’s statements of what was said. However, all of the activity that George reported, does match up with John Good and the 911 calls.
Rachel’s call cut off one minute before the shot happened. She testified that she tried to call him back right after that with no answer. She didn’t follow up the next day because she assumed it was just a fight. There are a few things about that statement that are very troubling to me. First, how could this be just a fight if Trayvon was supposedly being followed by a creepy rapist, as she and Trayvon speculated on the phone. Wouldn’t this give you far more cause for concern than just a regular fight. This tells me that Trayvon was not as scared as she was portraying in court, and neither was she. The prosecution painted a picture of a terrified boy running for his life but if that were the case, why wasn’t she concerned for his safety? Second, the fact that she dismissed it as “just” a fight tells me that it’s not unusual for Trayvon to fight.
She found out a day later that he was shot and killed. And she does not tell anybody about the phone call. She doesn’t tell anybody about the supposed creepy rapist stalking Trayvon. Clearly it was not important enough for her to tell anybody. She didn’t say a word until the Martin family came looking for her weeks later when they found her phone number on the phone bill. The police could not get in to Trayvon’s phone because of the password protections and the family would not allow them access to the information. She claims that the reason she never came forward was that she just assumed that they arrested the guy and therefore her information didn’t matter. Yet, the whole country knew that he wasn’t arrested, except for her? Of course, she has a reason for that too. She doesn’t watch the news. Does any of this add up for you? How could you be so completely distanced and disinterested in your close friend’s killing when you know you were the last person to speak with them?
The family approached Rachel and wanted to know what happened that night. She was reluctant to get involved. Rachel’s mom and Trayvon’s mom spoke and after that, Rachel then agreed to write the family a letter. This is the letter she wrote them.
Here are grieving parents desperate to know what happened to their son, and this is what she offers them. She signed the letter Diamond Eugene, which is not her real name. It’s a nickname. She also goes by the nickname DeeDee. One would think in light of the situation you’d probably want to use your real name. She didn’t see it that way.
In the letter, she omits many details of that night that didn’t come out until later in the depositions. One of the items she omitted is the fact that Trayvon referred to George as a “creepy ass cracka” and a “n*gga”. On the stand, she testified that she did that to spare his mom’s feelings. She didn’t want Trayvon’s mom to know that her son had said those things. So that begs the question, what else doesn’t she want Trayvon’s mom to know?
When she does finally meet with the family attorney, Benjamin Crump, she lied about her age. She told him she was 16. She later said she lied because she thought she would get more privacy as a minor.
The family asked her why she didn’t go to the funeral. She said she was in the hospital. She was not. That was also a lie. She testified that she lied because she didn’t want to see her friend’s dead body and she felt guilty about not going. She could have easily explained this to the family, that she was too uncomfortable to go, but she chose to lie instead. I hope that she is being genuine; that it was just too difficult for her. Because otherwise, that would have to mean that she’s hiding something or she really didn’t care all that much.
While Rachel was on the stand for 2 days at the trial, she portrayed an attitude that is very different than the giggling girl you have seen on TV this past week. The first day, she was flat out rude, disrespectful and combative. Because of her speech issues, the court reporter and jury had to repeatedly ask her to speak up and restate her answers. Listening to her speak now in interviews, although it’s clear that she does have a legitimate speech issue, it’s abundantly clear to me that part of her problem was her willingness to cooperate. You watch the trial tapes and decide for yourself.
Almost every interview I have seen with her is truly mind boggling. We have so few journalists left in this country who are unbiased and actually prepared for their conversations with their guests. They are falling all over themselves to be extra nice to her because America was so mean to her. That is not their job. They can be polite and respectful to a guest, and still ask them direct questions. Why is nobody really holding her accountable for her evasiveness and lies?
Today I came across a new interview that once again has left me scratching my head. See the link below. Rachel has decided to expand and theorize on what happened that night… again.
Items to note:
At 6:52 she talks about people needing to step it up when something like this happens. I’m not sure how she can make that statement seriously. She did everything in her power to avoid having to help or be involved in this investigation and trial. She wants to pat herself on the back for the rallies and subsequent arrest starting from March 20th-on, but the truth is that she hadn’t done one single thing to help her friend until the Martin family found her. Go back to the letter I posted above and consider how much she was really helping. She is pulling the wool over your eyes if you honestly believe she wanted to help.
At 10:00 she makes the bold statement that she believes Trayvon hit George first. This is huge! This is one of the most important pieces of the case – who initiated the fight. She did not testify to this on the stand. She also took the liberty of throwing in that she believes that George did not pull out his gun and instead grabbed Trayvon, and probably said I got you, you are coming with me. What? She seems to forget that she was on the phone with Trayvon at that time. Phone records prove this. Why is she saying “he probably said…”. She was on the phone, she heard what they said… therefore, there is no reason to speculate. She has never said this in any statement, deposition or testimony that George grabbed him and said I got you, come with me. Why do her stories keep changing? As she describes further the type of fight it was, you clearly can see now that sadly Trayvon was not a stranger to fights. She explains the difference between an ass-whooping and a beating. She says that what George got was just an ass-whooping (and he should have just taken it) and that Trayvon would have run away after. How was George to know the difference? For all he knew, Trayvon was going to beat him to death. The fact that Trayvon’s circle of friends seemingly have their own dictionary of beatings, should be very disturbing to everyone. But nobody wants to honestly address this.
At 12:50 she gets all giggly again when the interviewer asks her if Trayvon was her boyfriend. When Benjamin Crump first announced that they had this star witness back in March of 2012, he stated several times that Rachel was Trayvon’s girlfriend. For some reason along the way, they changed that story. On the stand she was very clear that she was not Trayvon’s girlfriend. They were just friends. Now again, the interviewer is asking her the question and although she doesn’t give him a direct answer, I think you can read between the lines of her response. You listen and decide for yourself. Why is she changing stories about this too?
One final point. You’ll notice throughout the interview she harps on the fact that she is a teenager. She is 19 years old, yet she doesn’t want to be called an adult. And I have to imagine that the reason she keeps harping on it is because she doesn’t want to be held responsible for her actions.
Rachel Jeantel started off as a star witness in one of the highest profile criminal cases in our country this year, and sadly ended up being the laughing stock of every social media site. The majority of the people spewing hatred towards her don’t really care about this case. They just need an outlet for their own internal ugliness. I wanted to focus on Rachel because I believe that it’s important for people to really understand why she has credibility issues. It has nothing at all to do with the nasty personal stuff that is being said about her. It’s easy to get lost in the muck of that ignorance. Rachel sadly has brought a lot of this on herself with her own personal conduct. The public and media can treat her with kid gloves all they want. But at some point she should take responsibility for her lack of honesty. Testimony in a criminal case greatly affects many people’s lives. That is not to be taken lightly no matter what age you are. I truly do hope that she learns from this and holds herself to higher standards in the future.