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Zimmerman's defense tries to undermine witness

Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 01:28

June 27 - Defense lawyers in the murder trial of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman try to undermine the testimony of a woman who was on the phone with unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot in Florida last year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT. NO REPORTER NARRATION. Defense lawyers in the murder trial of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman on Thursday (June 27) attempted to undermine the testimony of a woman who was on the phone with unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot in Florida last year. The prosecution witness, Rachel Jeantel, age 19, told the court on Wednesday that shortly before Martin was fatally shot, he complained about a "creepy" man who seemed to be hunting him down as he walked back to the house where he was staying in the town of Sanford. On the second day of cross-examination in Seminole County criminal court, one of Zimmerman's lawyers suggested that Martin had introduced racial terms in his conversation with Jeantel. Asked if Martin had used the term "crackers" to describe white people, Jeantel responded "I don't recall, sir." Zimmerman, 29, was a neighborhood watch volunteer in the Retreat at Twin Lakes community in the central Florida town of Sanford at the time of the Feb. 26, 2012 shooting. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and could face life imprisonment if convicted. Jeantel has acknowledged she lied about her age and about her reason for skipping Martin's funeral, and that she signed her mother's name rather than her own in a letter she sent to Martin's mother. Jeantel said she was merely seeking anonymity and never imagined she would be called as a witness. Jeantel, with whom Martin had been friends since elementary school in Miami, told the court in sometimes emotional testimony on Wednesday that Martin tried to run away and thought he had lost the stranger, until he reappeared. She said she heard Martin ask the man, "Why are you following me?" Then she heard "a bump," and Martin saying, "Get off!, Get off!" before the line was cut. Martin was a student at a Miami-area high school and a guest of one of the homeowners. He was returning after buying snacks at a convenience store when he was shot in the chest during a confrontation with Zimmerman. The case triggered civil rights protests and debates about the treatment of black Americans in the U.S. justice system, since police did not arrest Zimmerman, who is part Hispanic, for 44 days. Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled Martin, suspecting him of being up to no good, and killed him in an act of vigilante justice. The defense says Zimmerman was out doing his job as part of the neighborhood watch and simply trying to investigate something that he perceived as suspicious. Zimmerman does not deny killing Martin. He says he did so only after he was attacked and Martin smashed his head repeatedly into a concrete sidewalk.

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Zimmerman's defense tries to undermine witness

Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 01:28