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Zimmerman trial: Star witness faces grueling cross-examination

ORLANDO — A star witness in the prosecution’s case against George Zimmerman, charged with murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, faced a second day of grueling cross-examination Thursday as Zimmerman’s defense attorney seized on discrepancies and omissions in her descriptions of a phone conversation with Martin.

Rachel Jeantel, 19, was the last person to speak with Martin, who was 17 when he was shot to death by Zimmerman on the evening of Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla.

Don West

Witness Rachel Jeantel, left, continues her testimony to defense attorney Don West on day 14 of George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Thursday, June 27, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel)

Zimmerman claims self-defense; prosecutors allege Zimmerman, 29, profiled Martin because he was black, stalked him and forced a confrontation that ended with Zimmerman — a neighborhood watch captain in his gated community — firing a shot into Martin’s chest.

Martin, who was walking in the rain after going to a convenience store to buy a bag of candy and a soft drink, had been on a cellphone call with Jeantel in the minutes before encountering Zimmerman.

In her testimony Wednesday, Jeantel said she heard Martin ask someone why they were following him, and then heard a second voice ask Martin: “What are you doing around here?”

Under cross-examination Thursday, Jeantel said she did not mention Zimmerman’s alleged words to Martin when she described the exchange to Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, on March 19, 2012.

In a phone interview that same day with the Martin family attorney, Benjamin Crump, she gave a different account of  Zimmerman’s alleged statement to Martin. During that conversation, she told Crump that she heard him say: “What are you talking about?”

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

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