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Rachel Jeantel: Trayvon Martin Said “Get off, Get off”

“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.’” – Rachel Jeantel

 Rachel Jeantel was talking to Trayvon Martin just moments before he was killed by George Zimmerman.  [photo: Global Grind]

Rachel Jeantel was talking to Trayvon Martin just moments before he was killed by George Zimmerman. [photo: Global Grind]

THE TESTIMONY of Rachel Jeantel, the friend of Trayvon Martin being called the prosecution’s “star” witness, finally finished today, with parts of it infuriating, other moments breathtakingly heartbreaking.

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.


At another point, the prosecution asked Miss Jeantel about her upbringing, with the young woman stating that her mother doesn’t speak English very well and the she originally spoke Cajun. She can, however, understand English well, she stated emphatically.

I’ll let the Global Grind explain, because they do it much better than an Scots-Irish broad living in the Beltway could ever do. That doesn’t mean I don’t concur with what they wrote yesterday about Rachel Jeantel, because I do.

It seems the middle-aged white men on both sides of this case are totally unaware of what Rachel’s life is like – a 19-year-old high school student of Haitian descent who knows nothing more than the few block radius she has grown up in. The cultural differences here are exponential.

But if the lawyers, and especially the jurors, were really listening, they would see that although she comes off aggressive, Rachel was consistent. Yes, the defense proved she had lied in the past, but she didn’t deny it. On the contrary. She was very honest about it, and even led us to sympathize with her reasoning for it – she did not want to see Trayvon’s body, she did not want to face Trayvon’s mother and she wanted to wipe her hands of the situation because of the emotion and trauma. She was the last person Trayvon spoke to and she wanted everyone to understand what that means. This is in no way easy for her.

Rachel is the prosecution’s key witness, but I am going to call her the misunderstood witness. She holds vital information that both the defense and prosecution need, but these middle-aged white men questioning her do not get it. Sadly both the prosecution and the defense [but more so the defense] have an extreme disconnect from her reality, like I said. The constant text messaging between her and Trayvon is normal for two high school kids who may like each other, the nonchalant use of racial slurs like “cracka” and “n*gga” are slang (as Rachel put it) and that doesn’t mean it comes from a racist place.

What White People Don’t Understand About Rachel Jeantel

No matter where you read about Rachel Jeantel, especially defense friendly sites, nothing could be truer.

The people pontificating on cable about Miss Jeantel don’t understand her at all, so it’s hard to hold out hope that jurors will sympathize. But will they believe her when she says she heard Trayvon Martin say “get off, get off”? The whole case could depend on it.

This is a window into the divide between the friend of Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with him moments before George Zimmerman shot and killed him. For those of you who haven’t followed the testimony this week, it can possibly give you an idea of the trouble Miss Jeantel could have with defense attorney Don West, who is a much older white man who didn’t even understand the amount of texting that goes on among teens, which became apparent in one cross examination he did.

There is wildly different views on Rachel Jeantel’s testimony, the value of it or the damage of it, with much of it completely ignoring what it must mean for a 19 year-old who can’t read cursive, was originally more familiar with Cajun than English, while also speaking Spanish, living as a young black woman who didn’t want to see Trayvon Martin at his funeral.

Rachel Jeantel has been caught in misstatements throughout her testimony. This is not in question.

What pro Zimmerman factions are seeing as a disaster for the prosecution, others are seeing differently, with people evenly divided. The polarization that’s developed reminiscent of the O.J. reality in Los Angeles, where I lived at the time of the trial. Your view is colored by which side you stand on. I remember the outcome when O.J. was found not guilty, as I watched the rioting move towards my neighborhood.

At the start of Thursday, Mr. West asked if she’d been coached, because the attitude on display on Wednesday was gone. “Yes, sir” replacing the disrespect she showed West, with Miss Jeantel’s anger much more in check. Her response was that she simply got some sleep. It’s hard to accept that she wasn’t advised, because her behavior was worlds apart from yesterday.

What I found about Jeantel is that she is who she is, as Paula Deen might offer. There is much to find confusing, even baffling about her, but at no time did I get the impression she was lying. At times when Mr. West tried to characterize events in a manner with which she disagreed, she vehemently shot back with passion that its foundation cried out that what she was saying was true, even if she didn’t get every detail perfect.

That in no way means the jury will find her credible. As the hip hop site Global Grind admitted, “And if the 5 white jurors (excluding the 1 Latina) are like most white people I know, they are unfortunately not going to like Rachel.

Defenders of George Zimmerman across social media, in comments and everywhere else are tearing Rachel Jeantel’s testimony apart, sure that she didn’t help prosecutors.

None of these people have a clue about “First 48,” the show Rachel Jeantel mentioned on Wednesday, which threw everyone, especially Don West, for a loop.

Throughout it all was the complete inability for anyone in the trial to appreciate what Rachel Jeantel is attempting to do, which comes down to speaking for Trayvon Martin, because his killing silenced him forever.

Amid her disjointed testimony that showed many times she had gotten statements twisted, with tapes not helping, because of the “low” way she speaks, as she describes herself, there is an authentic foundation. It’s met with what seems to be a tragic back story of a young woman in the eye of a media storm that would make anyone nervous, but whose experience, education and mentoring from adults seems lacking in the extreme. It’s got to be overwhelming.

It was an impossible position for defense attorney Don West. It was made worse by the length of time he kept Rachel Jeantel on the stand, many times allowing her to dilute the points he was making as the questioning rambled on amid a blizzard of objections and the Florida judge sustaining many. Several times when West wanted a sidebar she refused, while allowing many.

The six jurors have no reason to empathize with Rachel Jeantel. There were misstatements and she admitted lying about her age to protect her privacy, as well as the reason she didn’t got to Trayvon Martin’s funeral.

“Under oath, you created a lie and said you went to the hospital?” Don West asked.

“Yes,” Rachel Jeantel offered honestly, then said the reason why is that she didn’t want to see her friend’s body.

Jeantel also testified during cross examination today that when prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda interviewed her in April, because she was sitting next to Trayvon Martin’s mother, she didn’t want to admit what Trayvon Martin had called George Zimmerman.

“Creepy-ass cracker,” Rachel Jeantel told the court today.

All the criticisms coming from outside Miss Jeantel’s world stand in contrast to the chilling thought that Rachel Jeantel says she actually heard Trayvon Martin say “get off, get off,” to George Zimmerman, just minutes before he was shot dead.

TM Note: Rachel Jeantel quote has been corrected.

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19 Responses to Rachel Jeantel: Trayvon Martin Said “Get off, Get off”

  1. Ramsgate June 27, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    ‘Get off, get off.’”
    And that was the salient fact.
    Try as they might, and they did throw everything they had at her, the defense was not able to shake or countervail that fact.

  2. dafederalist June 27, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    Attorney Don West is an IDIOT!!! Zimmerman supporters can say whatever they want about this trial and about the young ladies degree of communication skills but this 30 year veteran criminal defense attorney has been handled by a teenager!!

    So now we have:
    Witness one: One person was agressive and the other sounded like a child
    Witness two: The wider person was on top of the thinner person
    Rachel Jeantel: Get off,Get Off

  3. Taylor Marsh June 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    Ramsgate, dafederalist, your comments are a tonic after looking through some of the comment sections I’ve seen today.

    • T-Steel June 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      The “get off, get off” was not lost on me. In fact, her issues with the cursive writing actually brought a little smile to my face. I remember writing a cursive letter for my grandmother (who’s from Louisiana) when I was in 6th grade. When I gave it to her, I remember so well:

      “Baby, I can’t read cursive but I love this letter anyway.”

      Done and done with that. Creepy ass cracker… WELL! I’ve said that before back in the day. That staring white man at YMCA locker room. Many a “creepy ass cracker” said about him when I was a teen. That didn’t phase me simply because I understood where she was coming from. And I found her honesty refreshing and made her more believable to me.

      • Taylor Marsh June 27, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

        I bet your grandmother was something!

        Haven’t seen one media or legal analyst that understood what Global Grind is saying, not one.

        …and Don West! No white man could be more clueless, even understanding he had a tough hill to climb with her.

    • dafederalist June 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

      I’ve seen them….they have been VICIOUS!…..”Trayvon Martin called Zimmerman a Crazy Ass Cracker”……but soon as you point out that Rachel stated Trayvon said “This Crazy Ass Cracker is following me”…I was called “Jigga Boo”, “Nigga”….etc (This was on the yahoo comments section….Hey, but Justice Roberts says Racism isn’t an issue anymore.

      • Taylor Marsh June 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

        I know, dafederalist, watching this the same week as the Voting Rights Act was gutted has been surreal.

  4. dafederalist June 27, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Selma Mora, a neighbor who was making coffee when the altercation took place, testified she saw a man wearing clothes that matched the description of what Zimmerman was wearing on the night in question. That man, she said, was positioned on top in the 2-person struggle.

    Waiting for GZ supporters to explain this as well

  5. ladywalker68 June 28, 2013 at 3:08 am #

    While I realize it is up to the jury to decide whether or not Zimmerman committed 2nd degree murder, everything so far has me leaning in favor of the notion that a “crazy-ass cracker” with a gun stalked, confronted and ended up shooting someone he assumed was a fucking punk. Yep. That pretty well sums up my perception of what actually happened.

    Once again, Taylor, I really appreciate your thorough, thoughtful, and insightful analysis. It is so refreshing from the rest of the drivel that is out there. Thank you.

    • Taylor Marsh June 28, 2013 at 7:52 am #

      Kind of you, ladywalker68.

      Having watched the O.J. trial play out in LA, as well as Rodney King, I’m not expecting much from the jury. Prosecution’s key witness, Rachel Jeantel, likely not relating to jury, if I had to make a guess. Still, what she seems sure about cuts through.

      Sad, sad case.

  6. secularhumanizinevoluter June 28, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    Nothing to add here……be careful about the logic though….you might cause some heads to splode.

    • Taylor Marsh June 28, 2013 at 7:56 am #

      Oh, there is absolutely no logic that can cut through the emotion of this trial, you’re right about that, secularh.

      The pro Zimmerman faction now seems sure Martin doubled back to attack him! They ignore Zimmerman had a concealed carry, which *should* come with the responsibility of making sure you don’t end up inciting a confrontation. He did just the opposite, because he felt empowered by his gun.

  7. mjsmith June 28, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I would have to say that being followed or questioned by the police really sucks. Usually the same routine when I went through it when I was younger. First my name is so common it sounds fake. One time a police officer asked me if my parents were unable to think of a name more origional than “Mike Smith?” As hurt and angry as I was with that question, I gave the three police officers a long lecture on how much I love my parents and how special they had been in my life. During my talk, my friend that I was on my way to meet drove by us real slow and stared. My friend went to a pay phone and pretended to talk on it while he watched me and the officers. Finally, one of the officers asked if the guy staring at us was a friend of mine. I told them that he was and he is on the phone making arrangements to have me picked up from the local sub-station. They decided to end there questioning and go along on their way.

    The point is, as much as it sucks to be pulled over for “walking,” I did not start a fight. I was well within my rights to be upset about what happened. I did not attack anyone. If I did, I might of been shot!

    A man was killed in my neighborhood while on watch with his son. Two people approached them. One of the two asked the man for money. Then shot him dead in fron of his son.

    Does it matter that the person who was murdered was white and the person who shot him is a young black male?

    In my opinion, the evidence and testimony provided by Rachel Jeantel is not enough to convict Zimmerman of 2cnd degree murder.

    Zimmerman used a gun in self defense in order to save his own life. Until I hear convincing proof otherwise, I have to assume he is innocent.

    It does not matter that Zimmerman is latino or Rachel Jeantel is Haitian or that Trayvon martin is African-American. We are all equal under the law. We all have a Right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a Court of Law.

    We do not get to pick and choose who the Constitution applies to and who it doesn’t

    • secularhumanizinevoluter June 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

      “The point is, as much as it sucks to be pulled over for “walking,” I did not start a fight. I was well within my rights to be upset about what happened. I did not attack anyone. If I did, I might of been shot!”

      Are you fracking SERIOUS?!!!!!!!!!
      1.The point is, as much as it sucks to be pulled over for “walking,”Trayvon was not “pulled over for “walking,” by the police.
      He was stalked in a vehicle and car by an unidentified, self appointed and completely counter to the rules and guidelines of the organization he supposedly was representing AND instructions from the police when they train town watch people.
      Who then and again COMPLETELY counter to what the police representative on the phone confronted trayvon. AGAIN not identifying himselfe as a town watch volunteer.

      2.” I did not start a fight.”
      Trayvon didn’t “start a fight” …he was DEFENDING HIMSELF from a stalker!!! You know…stand your ground?!!!

      3.”I was well within my rights to be upset about what happened.”

      And? You say that like it has any relivence to anything here?

      4.” I did not attack anyone. If I did, I might of been shot!”

      You were stopped and questioned by the POLICE. Gee. kinda different being stopped by the POLICE…who let you know they were the POLICE then being stalked by some skulking, unidentified weirdo in a car and then on foot. Quite a difference indeed.

      • mjsmith July 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

        So your recent version of what happened still does not present second degree murder. How easy would it of been to report that a person is following him. Sorry, you still do not make a case. It is clear that Martin could of done many different thing legally. Instead Martin took it upon himself to confront Zimmerman.

        George Zimmerman is LAtino with many African-American relatives. All of this racist crap you interject into this case is another dimension of how completely wrong you are about this case.

    • Taylor Marsh June 28, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      mjsmith June 28, 2013 at 10:34 am

      George Zimmerman may or may not be convicted of second degree murder, but he is NOT “innocent.” He shot an unarmed person dead outside his home after pursuing him. He went looking for trouble and he found it.

      Even Sean Hannity said anyone can rightly argue Mr. Zimmerman shouldn’t have gotten out of his car. If Zimmerman calls the police and stays in his car this tragedy doesn’t occur, because Trayvon Martin wasn’t looking for trouble, he was on his way home after buying snacks at the 7-11.

      • mjsmith July 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

        I do not see anywhere in the transcript that even remotely says “stay in your car”.

        Zimmerman was following Martin and reported what he felt is suspicious to the non-emergency operator. He was trying to find his exact location so he could meet the police. This is not give Martin the right to attack Zimmerman.

  8. dafederalist June 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Meet Molly West….she is the daughter of Attorney Don West who posted a picture of her and daddy eating ice cream on instagram stating “We Beat Stupidity….#DadKilledIt”. So privileged and entitled…hmmm…Mind you, Rachel is still under subpoena and may be required to do additional testimony in this case. Now, tell me more about the character and intelligence of Rachel again?

  9. dafederalist June 28, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    I would love…#LOVE to be a fly on the wall in that Judges chambers on Monday!

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