The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 28, 2013

Zimmerman trial over teen's death enters 5th day

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — In testy exchanges, George Zimmerman's defense attorney insinuated that the young woman who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin shortly before he was fatally shot was not believable because of inconsistencies in her story.

But 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel held firm in her testimony about what she heard over the phone while talking with Martin the night the unarmed teen was shot and killed by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.

Testimony in the case was entering its fifth day Friday with jurors having already been exposed to some of the state's biggest pieces of evidence, including the 911 call featuring cries for help prosecutors believe came from Martin, as well as the sound of the gunshot moments later which killed him.

In her testimony, Jeantel contended that it was Zimmerman who confronted Martin. Zimmerman, who claims the shooting was in self-defense, has said he opened fire only after the 17-year-old jumped him and began slamming his head against the concrete sidewalk.

"We're in the middle of it," defense attorney Mark O'Mara said. "They've got a lot more to show. These things build up slow, and it's sort of like pieces of a puzzle. People say, 'wait a minute, I can't see the picture yet.' They're very good prosecutors, they're gonna do very good job, and they're gonna put on their evidence. We'll see how it goes. We're certainly ready to respond to it."

During Jeantel's testimony, O'Mara's co-counsel Don West insisted Thursday that Martin injected race into the confrontation. Jeantel has said Martin told her he was being followed by a "creepy-ass cracker" — implying Martin was being followed by a white man because of his race.

Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic. Race has permeated nationwide discussions of the case since the February 2012 shooting, which prompted nationwide protests and claims from critics that police took too long to arrest Zimmerman.

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