THE FIRST news today was that Circuit Judge Debra Nelson will allow the jury to hear the series of calls George Zimmerman made to the Sanford Police that happened in the 6 months before the Trayvon Martin shooting, which were played in court on Tuesday. That was just the beginning of an emotional trial day that continues, including several witnesses, among them Jayne Surdyk, then Rachel Jeantel, the 19 year-old friend of Trayvon Martin, who was the last to speak to him moments before he was killed.
The questioning of Rachel Jeantel made her emotional from the start, with a break called before the defense cross examined her. One of the things she said before the break was that Trayvon Martin told her he was being followed just minutes before he was shot. She is continuing to testify as this post was published.
Defense attorney West is having a lot of trouble with his cross-examination, as is the court stenographer, with Rachel Jeantel’s voice soft, her answers quick. It’s a difficult job for the best lawyer, with Rachel Jeantel clearly in distress, the best way I can describe her demeanor, which makes her a tough witness for the defense. West is desperately trying to draw out Ms. Jeantel’s her initial impression, which she says didn’t seem serious.
Jeantel testifies that Trayvon Martin identified George Zimmerman as a “creepy ass cracker.” Not long afterwards, Rachel Jeantel says that Martin tells her, “the nigga is still following me.”
She hears the first exchange between Zimmerman and Trayvon. Trayvon to the man following him: “Why are you following me for.” Jeantel she hears another “hard-breathing man” say “What you doing around here?”
- She hears a bump, and grass sounds, like people are rolling around or the phone dropped on the ground. She asks Trayvon what’s going on and she hears Trayvon saying “get off, get off.” The phone shuts off again.
She tells court that she didn’t hear from Trayvon again. “I had thought he was by his daddy’s house so somebody would come help him. ” On Monday there was a rumor that he was killed. She didn’t find out it was absolutely true until a friend texted her an article.
- She told the jury that she didn’t realize she was the last person to speak to Trayvon.
Rachel Jeantel is still testifying, with the jockeying with Mr. West not helping the defense at this point.
Earlier, Jayne Surdyk, a former neighbor of George Zimmerman, sat on the witness stand while listening to her emotional 911 call the day Trayvon Martin was killed, lowering her head at one point, but otherwise non-reactive to what had to affect anyone listening to the call. The 911 operator showed incredible professionalism and composure as he attempts to calm Surdyk down, who at one point in the call completely breaks down.
“Oh my god I don’t know what he did to that person,” said Surdyka. [HLN]
9:25 a.m. ET: “I heard like from my window a pop, pop, pop.” said Surdyka. “You know I don’t know what a gun really sounds like.”
9:24 a.m. ET: Surdyka said the last yelp she heard was made by the “boy” in her opinion.
At one point in the cross-examination with defense attorney West, Surdyk is asked to comment on the higher pitched voice, as it is being described. “It sounded more like a boy to me,” said Surdyk.
West also made a point to emphasize that Jayne Surdyk initially told the 911 operator she did not want to be a witness. Later changing her mind, she agreed to be interviewed if her identity and voice were completely disguised. She appeared on CNN to talk with Ashleigh Banfield.
One legal analyst said something that everyone should keep in mind. Watching trials like this on TV there is a penchant for deciding who is “winning” or “losing,” though in the George Zimmerman case, I’d say there are no “winners.” The reality is that lawyers will make headway in one moment then slide back as the trial ticks by. It’s the cumulative effect that matters to the jurors.
What isn’t on trial is the fact that having a concealed carry permit requires a great deal of responsibility of the gun owner. Considering Trayvon Martin was unarmed, and even considering the pictures of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries, there is no reason to believe that George Zimmerman’s life was in danger. Unfortunately, with so-called Stand Your Ground laws, which is in place in Florida, the Second Amendment has been broadened to mean something it shouldn’t, placing in the hands of people the power to take lives in situations that don’t warrant it.
According to the defense attorney West on Tuesday, Trayvon Martin had a weapon, too. It was the sidewalk. It sounds ridiculous, but that was what Mr. West said.
George Zimmerman had a 9mm semi-automatic Kel-Tec pistol, which is anything but a top tier gun, according to my husband, who is a gun expert and has had a concealed carry license, which I’ve written about many times before.
There is no comparison, as the outcome proves.
This post has been updated.