Seni Tienabeso and Matt Gutman, ABC News, June 27, 2013
A teenage friend of Trayvon Martin was forced to admit today in the George Zimmerman murder trial that she did not write a letter that was sent to Martin’s mother describing what she allegedly heard on a phone call with Martin moments before he was shot.
In a painfully embarrassing moment, Rachel Jeantel was asked to read the letter out loud in court.
“Are you able to read that at all?” defense attorney Don West asked.
Jeantel, head bowed, eyes averted whispered into the court microphone, “Some but not all. I don’t read cursive.”
It sent a hush through the packed courtroom.
Jeantel, 19, was unable to read any of the letter save for her name.
The testimony was an attempt to raise questions about veracity of Jeantel’s testimony, who is a key prosecution witness in the racially charged case.
Rachel Jeantel was the last person to speak on the phone with Martin moments before he was shot to death by Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012.
During nearly two hours of cross examination Wednesday in which he tried to raise questions about her version of events and accused her of telling several lies under oath, including about her whereabouts during Martin’s wake.
“Under oath, you created a lie and said you went to the hospital?” asked West.
“Yes,” responded Jeantel. She said she lied because she didn’t want to see the body.
She is seen as a critical witness to the prosecution because she is the only person able to say that Martin claimed that he noticed a strange man following him and that he was scared. Jeantel said Martin described the stranger as a “creepy ass cracker.”
Jeantel said Martin, 17, was walking home during halftime of the NBA All-Star Game when he became unnerved because he was being followed.
“He told me the man kept following him,” Jeantel said.
Jeantel said she told Martin to run, but that he responded that he was almost home.
“I say, ‘Trayvon,’ and then he said, ‘Why are you following me for?'” Jeantel testified. “And then I heard a hard-breathing man come say, ‘What you doing around here?’ … And then I was calling, ‘Trayvon, Trayvon.’ And then I started to hear a little bit of Trayvon saying, ‘Get off, get off.'”