Rachel Jeantel — If you’re watching George Zimmerman’s trial, you already know who she is and have probably formed an opinion as to her credibility, and if web chatter is any indicator, it probably isn’t favorable.
The internet was not kind to Rachel Jeantel, and at first glance, it really looked as if her frustration and reluctance on the stand could harm what is probably the most direct first person account of the night Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford in February of 2012.
At first, Jeantel read to many as unprepared and uncomfortably direct. Her casual manner of speaking and tendency to get rapidly annoyed with questioning led many on social media sites like Twitter to judge her harshly or, less frequently, plead with her to take the trial seriously and secure a conviction in her friend’s shooting death.
But the longer we thought about Rachel Jeantel the more it seemed that however she came off initially, this was not a stupid female, nor a woman unable to understand and respond to the defense’s insinuations and intentions.
Yesterday, The Inquisitr covered one particularly standout moment involving Rachel Jeantel’s testimony, one during which (despite an overall reduction in visible annoyance on the part of Jeantel in day two) it seemed this was not only ever plainer, but more pointed.
During the exchange, the defense suggests to Jeantel that Martin had planned to attack George Zimmerman, and that Trayvon may have been plotting to jump the man from whom he’d been running — per accounts by all involved, including Zimmerman.
This is important, because no one denies Martin was fleeing at every turn, attempting to evade the person unknown to him, tailing him through the night for reasons that were not clear to the teen.
But the back and forth also is an example of Jeantel’s ability to reason on the spot, and reason she does — in a way that may have obliterated the defense’s case in a terse and to the point reply.
West asks Jeantel if Martin could have lied about his proximity to his father’s home in order to conceal the fact he’d intended to attack Zimmerman — a man with whom he’d had no contact and did not even realize was the person following him, i.e., a total stranger. She replies calmly:
“Why he need to lie about that, sir?”
“Maybe if he decided to assault George Zimmerman, he didn’t want you to know about it.”
Jeantel, quietly but visibly not having it, says:
“That’s real retarded, sir… That’s real retarded to do that, sir.”
West asks why, and it’s in this moment she asks a question the jury might to well to consider when the idea of an aggressive Martin jumping a placid Zimmerman inevitably surfaces:
That’s real retarded, sir… If you don’t know the person, why a person — Trayvon did not know him.
West quickly changes course and pursues a different line of questioning with Rachel Jeantel at this point, but it seems in that brief moment, the real question of the self-defense claim is addressed and essentially put to rest.
So much is made of what we imagine Trayvon Martin was thinking, but Rachel Jeantel — the last person to speak with him before George Zimmerman — lays it bare for us. Trayvon Martin didn’t know George Zimmerman, and as he ran for his life, had no real reason to attack his assailant, and in her brief retort, Jeantel drives this home. Why would Martin turn and attack the “creepy ass cracker” from whom he’d been running? In what universe does that make any sense whatsover?
But Rachel Jeantel’s single-sentence takedown of George Zimmerman’s defense is much like her testimony — straight, to the point, and easy to miss if you’re simply seeing a confused, scared, and frustrated teenager.