Key witnesses in the Trayvon Martin case took the stand in court today.
19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin when his confrontation with George Zimmerman began, spoke to the court about what she heard from Martin on the night he was killed.
Martin was walking home from a friend’s house during halftime of the 2012 NBA All-Star game while he talked to Jeantel on the phone. Jeantel became worried for Martin when he told her that a “creepy a-s cracker” was “watching” him.
Jeantel warned Martin to walk faster, warning him that “it might be a rapist.” Martin responded by saying he was going to “lose him.”
“I say ‘Trayvon,’ and then he said ‘Why are you following me for?” Jeantel said. “And then I heard a hard-breathing man come say ‘What are you doing around here?’ and then I was calling ‘Trayvon, Trayvon.’ And then I started to hear a little bit of Trayvon saying ‘Get off, get off.’”
Martin’s phone went dead soon after and Jeantel never spoke with Martin again.
Witness Jane Surdyka took the stand today as well. Surdyka’s home is about 20 feet away from where Martin was killed. She was in her house that night and talked to the court about what she heard and saw.
Surdyka says she heard “a boy’s voice” cry out for help. “It was a plea for mercy,” she continued.
Zimmerman claims he was screaming that night, saying that Martin was bashing his head into the concrete. Martin’s legal team, on the other hand, contends that Martin was screaming while being attacked by Zimmerman.
“I truly believe the second yell for help was a yelp.” Surdyka said. “It was excruciating. I really felt it was a boy’s voice. It was someone being very aggressive and angry at someone.”
A second neighbor, Jeanee Manalo, said she heard screams that night but did not know who they were coming from. She only said she saw swinging arms. “The one on top was moving,” Manalo said as she made a punching gesture.
Today’s testimonies followed a key ruling by Judge Debra Nelon to allow previous calls Zimmerman made to police while on neighborhood watch the be included in the evidence. Prosecutors argued that the calls are needed evidence because they reveal Zimmerman’s mindset going into the attack.
“The defendant made the calls, he created the tapes, he created these situations. He shouldn’t complain,” prosecutor Richard Mantei said.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to charges of second-degree murder. If convicted, he may be sentenced to life in prison.