By Davarian Rousseau, UNF
SANFORD, Fla. -- Thursday was a very eventful day in the trial of George Zimmerman. Thestar of the show was the prosecution's witness, Rachel Jeantel, who wason the phone with Trayvon Martin the night he was fatally shot by GeorgeZimmerman. Her testimony is a key piece of the trial and could single-handedly sway several jurors' opinion on the events.
While theday was encouraging for the defense, it was by no means without flaws.Defense attorney Don West started his cross-examination with a verypointed, guided attack. West's line of questioning started with greatflow and pointed leading questions, which is the objective of everyattorney in cross-examination. Cross-examination is supposed to showcasethe lawyer as the star as opposed to the witness and produce short"yes" or "no" answers from the witness.
The flow of thequestioning was interrupted when there was a dispute between Jeantel andthe official transcript. Jeantel swears she said "I could hear it'sTrayvon" when asked if she was certain if he said "get off me," whilethe official transcript states she said she "could've heard Trayvon."
The official audio was played, but because of her heavy accent, it wasnot entirely clear what she said. Many minutes were spent by West to tryto get Jeantel to state that she wasn't sure she heard Martin's voice.This lull in the questioning causes West to lose track of his goal in thecross-examination and resort to badgering the witness.
Ingeneral, juries do not like when an attorney attacks a witness becausethey connect more with the witness than the attorney. West's attack onJeantel was very effective in poking holes in her story, but it mayhave caused the jury to feel sympathetic towards her.
Incross-examination, lawyers are told to end emphatically, something Westtried to do numerous times. At one point in the questioning West stated,"You didn't do anything because it was just another fight. Another fightMartin started." Jeantel responds "no" to this, going on to furtherexplain that Trayvon would have told her if he was going to confrontZimmerman and was just intent on getting home. This statement sent thedefense back on a mission to attack her from another angle.
Todaywas Jeantel's second day on the stand, and she appeared much moreprepared compared to her first day. It was clear that Jeantel had beenthoroughly prepared by the state's council. In today's court session,Jeantel was dressed more appropriately and answered more respectfully,constantly responding "yes sir" and "no sir."
In general, Jeanteldisplayed a level-headed attitude though she did slip up at one pointand called an assumption made by West "retarded."
Jeantel's demeanor was a bitunsettling though as she seemed extremely worn out, and at some timesdisinterested throughout the questioning. The jury can either decide tosympathize with her for taking the brunt of the questioning head on, orbecome frustrated with her for not seeming to take interest in a casethat involves her dead friend.
Davarian Rousseau is a senior at UNF. He is majoring in political science, minoring in economics and is interested in a career in criminal defense.
Analysis: Jeantel testimony continues for a second day
By Davarian Rousseau, UNF