On Thursday, after two days of testimony totaling about seven hours the State of Florida’s star witness Rachel “Diamond” Jeantel was excused in the George Zimmerman 2nd degree murder trial. But Sanford Florida Circuit Judge Debra Nelson reminded the 19-year-old Miami resident that the subpoena still applies and she may be called back for more testimony. Jeantel is one of the prosecution's most important witnesses because she bolsters the contention that Zimmerman was the aggressor.
Despite continued tough and relentless cross examination questions defense attorney Donald R. West, Jeantel's testimony was more subdued Thursday and she seemed less irritated with West’s zealous yet exhausting questioning. She answered many of defense attorney Don West’s questions by repeating, "Yes, sir" in her now distinctive soft spoken manner. West took note of her calmer demeanor, although Jeantel apparently took issue with the substance of his question with this tense exchange:
West: “You feeling OK today? You seem different than yesterday. Did you talk with someone last night about your demeanor in court?”
Jeantel: “No, I went to sleep.”
Marti, told Jeantel a "creepy-a*s cracker" had been following him, and that he had lost the man but unexpectedly the man had appeared again, this time close by, she testified.
She further testified on cross examination that Zimmerman was the aggressor.
"You don't know that," said West.
Jeantel agreed but testified that the combination of sounds she heard on the telephone call with Martin led her to be convinced her that Zimmerman landed the first blow.
Zimmerman "had to be on top of Trayvon," she said, because she heard Martin say, "'Get off, Get off."
But what does "get off" mean, West asked. "You don't know what any of that means because you didn't see it,” he said, suggesting that Martin may have decided to assault Zimmerman.
Jeantel’s response was just as assertive: "That's real retarded to do that, sir.”
Both sides kept up their intense verbal back and forth until Jeantel was excused.
Jeantel was one of four witnesses prosecutors called Thursday. Of the four called, two were neighbors.
Selma Mora, who was a neighbor of Zimmerman in February of 2012, testified with a Spanish language interpreter that after she heard what she now believes was a gunshot, she rushed outside and saw the man who survived the fight on his knees straddling Martin. That man then stood up and began pacing, she said. She also testified that she saw two people, one on the ground and the second on top and “couldn't see anything but a pattern of black and reds,” according to her testimony. She testified that he said to her "Just call the police."
The other former neighbor, State’s witness Jennifer Lauer, is the woman who called 911 and it was her telephone call that captured the audio of the screams from the fight and the gunshot. She testified that she saw nothing but heard talking, then scuffling and wrestling "like two people rolling around. It turned into grunting then it gradually turned into yelping,” she said.
ANALYSIS: Thursday, Rachel “Diamond” Jeantel appeared to rehabilitate herself from Wednesday’s testimony when many were critical of her court demeanor. We also learned that the 19-year-old, who is of Haitian and Dominican descent, is tri-lingual. She testified that speaks Creole, Spanish, and English and has done so since early childhood. Therefore, one can make the argument to those critics of her speech pattern and dialect that there may be a reason, if any, for her presentation as we have seen it. Moreover, I challenge all of the critics who claim to “speak good English” to answer the following: how many of you can speak three languages? The fact she can speak those three languages requires both knowledge and intelligence.
The testimony of Zimmerman neighbor Selma Mora may turn out to be an important moment in the trial as we head into Friday. Remember this: earlier in the trial on Tuesday, an important piece of the State’s documentary evidence was introduced when Sanford Police Department CSI Tech Diana Smith testified that she took the photograph of Zimmerman at the Sanford Police Department in the jacket that was shown in court for jurors of the same color type. This may help them convince jurors that the shooter was, in fact, on top of Martin.
A licensed attorney in Orlando, Florida, Joseph Haynes Davis is also a broadcaster with over 30 years of broadcast media experience. He is also the legal analyst for the State of Florida v. Zimmerman trial for the “Doug Banks Show,” the Andre Michael Eggelletion Show and several other national radio programs. Follow him on Twitter: @sivadmedia and @con_speaking and check out his website and political blog.