Rachel

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.

letter from RJeantel

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.

http://huff.lv/15G6dlH

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.

skittles2

Why did the Seminole County jurors vote not guilty?  How could six women, five moms, care so little about a 17 year old teenager that they let a killer walk free?  Is it because they are cold people?  Is it because they are mostly white?  Is it because our legal system sucks?  Or is it possible that there is another reason why they voted not guilty?

Six people were sequestered, away from the media, away from the social groups, away from the protests, away from the everyday non-stop overload of mob opinion, and focused on what was presented to them in court, and then they decided.

Six months ago, if you were to ask me what I thought about this case, I would have told you that George Zimmerman had a lot of explaining to do for why he got out of his truck and shot Trayvon.  I would have told you that he’s probably guilty of manslaughter.  I also would have told you that this will be a tough case for the prosecution to prove.  For people that don’t typically follow trials, they may not fully grasp how heavy the burden of proof really is, and therefore they assume it’s a slam dunk for guilty.  I’m glad that the burden of proof is high.  Not because I want criminals on the street.  But because I don’t want innocent people in jail and prosecutors locking away every person that they “think” did something criminal.  Some people think that the prosecutors always get it right.  Sadly, that is very far from the truth.  They are not immune to the politics that exist in our country.  This is why we are judged by our peers and not judges.  It really is the best system in the world. Six months later, and after a quest for truth, my opinions have radically changed. Not about the case being hard to prove but about what really happened that night.

So how did this case get so out of hand and why is America once again completely divided?  On a rainy February night in central Florida, a 28 year old man, George Zimmerman, who was the captain of a neighborhood watch program, spotted a suspicious person in his neighborhood.  He called it in to the non-emergency number and reported what he deemed to be suspicious.  That suspicious person was 17 year old Trayvon Martin who wore a dark hoodie covering his head.  And yes he was black. For whatever his own reasons that we’ll never know, Trayvon spotted George and decided to run.  George got out of his truck to see where he went.  This is the decision that has forever changed the lives of two men, two families and an entire nation.

What exactly happened in that moment that George hung up with the non-emergency operator and the moment that the fight began, nobody will ever know.  But what happened during that fight, is what the jurors needed to decide.  What the general public doesn’t understand, and what the state attorney’s office, Al Sharpton and the mainstream media don’t want you to know is that following somebody is not illegal.  George Zimmerman did not commit any illegal act by getting out of his truck that night.  He had every right to go see where this person went.  Was it poor judgement?  I think we all agree, yes it was.  Do neighborhood watch programs advise against following suspicious people, yes they do.  This poor choice was the beginning of what occurred but it legally was not provocation.  This is extremely important to understand.  The media and the prosecutors will scream at you that George provoked this crime.  He did not, according to the law.  That is not my opinion.  That is fact.  And just because George investigated something that he deemed suspicious, and that person happened to be black, does not automatically mean that George is a racist with a depraved mind that wanted to kill.  You can’t make that assumption without proof and you certainly can’t charge somebody with second degree murder without proof.

So… why did George really get out of his truck?  Have any of you really searched for the answer to that question beyond what the media has fed to you before making a judgement?  Because if most people had a glimpse in to what was happening in that neighborhood, many people would have an answer to that question.  Did George Zimmerman want to be a cop?  Yes.  Did George Zimmerman care about the safety of his family and community?  Yes.  These are noble desires.  Not criminal desires.

In the summer of 2011, there were a series of burglaries that took place at the Retreat at Twin Lakes.  Some burglars got away, some were caught.  Most of the offenders were young.  During one of those burglaries, a mother with a 4 month old baby was home and had to lock herself in the nursery, on the phone with 911, and scissors in her other hand as a weapon, while two young men broke in to her home and robbed her.  Police made it there in time to help her, and the burglars fled.  One ended up being caught, the other was not.  They were in their late teens and they were black.  Due to the events escalating in their neighborhood, the residents being fearful, met with their HOA and decided to create a neighborhood watch program.  George became the captain of this group.  The neighbors who knew him all described George as being calm, friendly, helpful and caring.  After the creation of the neighborhood watch, George was able to prevent an attempted burglary by his patrol efforts.  The program was helping.  There are reports in the media that he called 911 hundreds of times.  Clearly this must mean that he is an over-zealous paranoid cop-wannabe.  The reality is that it was not hundreds of times and it was not always 911.  Neighborhood watch captains are told to either call the non-emergency line or 911 depending on the level of the event.  Every captain is informed of any potential crime that happens in the neighborhood.  That is how the program works.  Yes he did call those numbers numerous times to report events, some small, some big.  He was doing what the program intended for him to do.

On the night of February 26, 2012, on his way out to the store, George spotted Trayvon Martin.  He was a young man that he didn’t recognize, in a hooded sweatshirt standing on his neighbor’s lawn.  It was raining and it appeared that Trayvon was just standing around.  And yes he was black.  George deemed him to be suspicious.  Is this an enormous stretch to you that George found him suspicious?  I propose in light of the burglaries, probably not.  My mother was the victim of a burglary.  If I saw somebody who was hooded standing on her lawn, I would be suspicious too. Suspicions are subjective. We are entitled to them.  Did the fact that Trayvon was black play in to George’s suspicions?  I’ll never know the answer to that question. But there is nothing in George’s history that suggests racism.  If there was, don’t you think the prosecution would have brought that to trial?  They didn’t.

Another misconception is that the police instructed him not to get out of his vehicle.  This is also not true.  George had already gotten out of his vehicle and was half way down the sidewalk, trying to see where Trayvon went, when the non-emergency operator asked him if he was following the suspicious person.  He said yes.  The operator said “we don’t need you to do that”.  That is VERY different than a police officer commanding you NOT to do something.  That is not how the media reports it.  George’s response back was “ok”.  There is no evidence whatsoever, again contrary to what the prosecutors want you to believe, that proves that George continued to chase Trayvon down after that point.  The evidence actually points to George walking back to his truck when Trayvon reappeared and the fight began.

When George was brought to the police station the night of the shooting, the photos that the media wanted you to see were long distance grainy images of George getting out of the police car, and they went out of their way to point out that George had absolutely no injuries on him.  What most people don’t know is that other photos were taken at the crime scene very soon after the event and George did indeed have a very swollen broken bloody nose, scrapes to his face and head, contusions, lacerations and bleeding on the back and sides of his head.  He had been beaten.  These photos are rarely seen by the public.

The lawn of the townhome where the shot was fired and where Trayvon was found belongs to John Good.  He was the closest witness to the event.  He was standing approximately 10 feet away from them. His statement hours after the event, and on the stand one and a half years later, has remained largely the same.  He had no idea what George’s story was so there is no possibility that he made it up to match.  This is his own account of what he saw that night: Trayvon was on top of George (he identified them by clothing and skin color, he did not know either of them by name), first Trayvon was laying on top of George in the grass and then straddling him on the pavement.  (George reports that Trayvon was straddling him, pounding his head in to pavement.)  Trayvon’s arms were moving in a downward motion, appearing as if he was raining down punches.  He could not testify to definitively seeing fists hit skin but he did testify that there was a flurry of hands going in a downward motion and the man on the bottom was screaming.  He said it looked like a mixed martial arts fight that is considered a ground and pound event.

George states that he was screaming for help. He saw John on his patio and was screaming for his help.  John yelled out to the two men to stop what they were doing and that he was calling 911.  He went back inside to make the call and then went upstairs to look out the window.  It was after he went back inside that the shot occurred.  So nobody actually witnessed it.  The infamous screams on the 911 call made by neighbor Jenna Lauer match up with George’s statements and John Good’s witness accounts.  I have listened to that tape numerous times.  Although I certainly can’t say for sure who it is that is screaming, it does sound like George to me.  But more importantly, it matches up with the accounts of that night.

If George was depraved and intended to harm Trayvon that night, why did he call the non-emergency line?  Why did he request that police come to the scene to check out this suspicious person?  For all he knew, the police could have been nearby and on-site within a minute or two.  He also knew that there were witnesses to the fight.  There were numerous townhomes surrounding them.  It wasn’t just John Good watching but he reported that he could see other neighbors looking out their windows.  In today’s day and age, somebody could have easily videotaped this.  Are these ideal conditions to intentionally shoot somebody out of depravity?  Use your logic.

The investigators who initially worked this case all testified at trial.  In summation, they believed George and felt his statements were mostly consistent. And these were prosecution witnesses.  This is why charges weren’t pressed for 40+ days.  Not because the police department didn’t care about Trayvon, or because George supposedly had inside influences, but because this was a case of self defense and there was no evidence to prove otherwise.  Every day there are cases that go uncharged because evidence doesn’t exist.  You can’t charge somebody just because you’re pretty sure they did something wrong.  Our justice system doesn’t work that way, thank god.

What happened after that?…. The Martin family didn’t like the fact that George wasn’t being charged and hired Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney.  They began to circulate pictures of Trayvon that were 4 years younger, portraying him as a little boy, they got the Department of Justice involved, they held rallies with packets of Skittles and wore hoodies, and made their pleas to the American public.  People became outraged, rightfully so. If the story they told was actually true, it would be outrageous. I bought in to it for a brief time too.  The state attorney’s office demoted the original investigators, fired the chief of police and brought in a special prosecutor.  They declined going to a grand jury, and instead decided to charge George with second degree murder.  To prove second degree murder, you have to prove that the person killed with a depraved mind.  It does not involve premeditation as is required with first degree murder, but does require the depraved mind element. Why did they charge him with 2nd degree murder instead of manslaughter? Because that decision was based on emotion and political pressure, not on fact or evidence. The state’s attorney office would like you to believe that the defense team brought race in to this case, but I’d like you to remember that the family’s attorney, a civil rights attorney, appealed to Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the Department of Justice for their assistance in this case.  I propose to you that race was suggested by the state, not the defense.  And oh how the media loved that.  Now we have a story.  And the American public ate it up.

The ONLY supposed evidence that the prosecution presented at trial to show that George acted with a depraved mind was that when he was on the phone with the non-emergency operator reporting the suspicious person, he muttered under his breath “these assholes always get away” and “fucking punks”.  He did not shout those words, he did not say them angrily, he did not use any racial slurs.  NBC went so far as to make a false version of that recording and added in a racial slur that I refuse to post on this blog.  But please do google that event and you will be absolutely disgusted with NBC.  They were totally busted for falsifying the recording and the Zimmerman family is suing them, rightfully so.

Does it seem plausible to you that perhaps these utterances under George’s breath were the result of a man who was just frustrated by the burglars in his neighborhood?  Don’t misunderstand, this does not mean that Trayvon was a burglar.  There is no evidence of that whatsoever and I’m not accusing him.  We are talking about George’s perception and in his perception, Trayvon was suspicious.   How many of you use the words asshole and punk on occasion when you are frustrated?  Are you racist?  I hope to god that someday I’m not accused of murder with a depraved mind in a criminal court because I used the word asshole.

The truth of this story that nobody wants to even remotely address is that Trayvon chose to fight that night.  This is not my opinion and this is not an attack on the victim.  This is information that was brought out at trial that is supported by physical evidence and witness accounts.  He was not a helpless little boy with only a bag of candy. He was beating George. That was the choice that he made. He did have George’s head on pavement, and George feared for his life.  George was carrying a legal concealed weapon.  Whether you like guns or not, George did have a legal right to carry his gun.  People who carry concealed weapons typically have them loaded.  Why?  Because how is it going to help them in an emergency if it’s not loaded?  For people that are not gun advocates, the concept of carrying a loaded gun is crazy.  For people that are gun advocates, the concept of carrying a loaded gun is perfectly normal.  People do it all the time.  My personal feelings about the gun debate have no relevance on this case and are topic of discussion for another blog entry.  The Florida law states that George was legally in possession of his gun.  The Florida law also states that deadly force is legal if it is used to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony (i.e. robbery).  The force that George used that night was legal.  If you don’t like these laws, you need to contact your political leaders and work to change them.  But you absolutely cannot send somebody to prison because you don’t like the law and want to make a point.

It’s much easier for people to believe that George is an evil man who gunned down a black boy in cold blood because he was black; than it is to believe that a 17 year old teenager chose to fight, and had the ability to fight, a 28 year old man. Trayvon made as many bad choices that night as George did.  I’m not being insensitive by saying this. I’m trying to speak the truth.  What he did to George was illegal.  If Trayvon had lived, he would probably be in court fighting assault and possibly attempted murder charges today.

If the racial card was never played by the Benjamin Crump camp, then none of us outside of Sanford, FL, would have ever heard of this case.  Focusing on cases where racism is suggested merely because somebody is black, and there is no proof to back it up, does not help the healing in our country. It widens the divide.  I am absolutely in favor of civil rights leaders getting involved where legitimate injustices have occurred. If they are not sure if something was a legitmate injustice, they have a responsibility to investigate first before blasting it all over the country and getting everybody incensed. I hope that all human beings will always fight for their equal rights in this country. I hope they do it in an honest way that is intended for the truth to be told, and not mobs to be created.  And I am in total opposition to civil rights leaders who use their power only to achieve personal interests and intentionally cause divides.  I feel strongly that this is what occurred in this case and I am not alone in this belief.

I am sad for the loss of Trayvon and for the pain of the Martin family. I am disappointed that they hired the people that they did to represent them. Those representatives did not properly honor Trayvon’s life. Trayvon should not have died.  He didn’t deserve to die.  I am also sad for the Zimmerman family, and for George. He shouldn’t have been beaten and he shouldn’t have been demonized by people that don’t know the whole story, or refuse to accept the whole story. He will have to live in hiding for the rest of his life.  I don’t consider myself a George supporter.  I don’t consider myself a Trayvon supporter.  It’s not relevant to the commentary on this case.  My opinions are all from the standpoint of seeking the truth and following the law.  Some may read this and assume that I’m insensitive, that I don’t care about other ethnicities, that I’m anti-civil rights or that I support guns and crime.  But those of you who know me will attest, nothing could be further from the truth.

I find myself in very unfamiliar territory with this case.  Very rarely do I find myself agreeing with defense teams and disagreeing with victim’s families.  And very rarely do I ever hear prosecutors say in court to a jury “it might have happened this way”.  I have never in my life seen such a weak prosecution case. That’s not by chance… it’s because a case doesn’t exist.  So in many ways, I’m out of my comfort zone and kind of feel like I’m standing on a ledge here.  But I would be completely disingenuous if I stood up with the rest of the crowd and said “I am Trayvon” and wore a hoodie and demanded that George be thrown in jail.  I am not Trayvon.  I am an American who cares greatly about the well-being of my loved ones, my fellow citizens, equality and peace, and who seeks the truth, even when the answers are ugly.

What is really the biggest problem in this case?  It’s not racism, it’s not media, and it’s not Al Sharpton.  It’s OUR absolute blind acceptance of the media that is fed to us and the mob mentality that it creates.  Media is a business.  Of course they report the most dramatic and salacious information that they know the public craves.  It sells stories and makes them money.  It’s not their fault.  It’s our fault for believing it without demanding proof or doing our own research.

If I was part of the Seminole County six, I would have voted Not Guilty.  And in the interest of truth, I refuse to be afraid to admit that.  I hope that every American takes the time to research what they hold dear.  Don’t settle for what others want you to believe.  Seek out the information and then make your own choice.