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Rachel Jeantel, Zimmerman trial star witness, in the spotlight

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   June 28, 2013 at 9:20 AM   |   Comments

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June 28 (UPI) -- Much ado has been made of Rachel Jeantel, the 19-year-old woman who was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin alive.

Over nearly two days, Jeantel's testimony for the prosecution at the trial of George Zimmerman was broadcast live, nonstop, on cable news.

Her answers (curt, not always polite), demeanor (sullen), speaking voice (low, accented, colloquial), her education (she was forced to admit she couldn't read) and even her body (buxom) became fodder for criticism and mockery, even as others defended her.

She was not helped in that neither the lawyers from the prosecution nor those from the defense seemed to handle her particularly well on the stand. They asked her questions in ways that she did not understand and at points, were perceived as patronizing her.

At one point, the prosecution tried to get Jeantel to admit English wasn't her first language -- presumably, to get some sympathy from the jury -- and then defense attorney Don West, in a rude but nonetheless effective exchange, repeatedly asked her if she had trouble understanding him or anyone else who questioned her in the aftermath of Trayvon's death.

The Internet, as it is prone to being, was brutal.



Others defended her as a normal, urban teenager stuck in a horrifying and miserably uncomfortable situation.



But the only judges that count are the six women who sit on the jury, to whom Jeantel's testimony could prove to either be the key evidence that convicts Zimmerman or exposed as too inconsistent to be trusted.

Unsurprisingly, opinion was wildly divergent on how they would interpret Jeantel's testimony.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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