More riveting testimony and lots of developments in the courtroom on the 14th day of George Zimmerman's murder trial, as the state's "star witness," Rachel Jeantel, returned to the witness stand Thursday morning.
The jury also heard from a phone company manager who explained part of Trayvon Martin's phone records, including the last call he was on with Jeantel; as well as two former neighbors who witnessed the deadly 2012 shooting, including one who testified in Spanish through an interpreter.
Witnesses listed in reverse order, with the most recent witness on top.
- Selma Mora, a former neighbor and witness who testified in Spanish using an interpreter.
- Jenna Lauer, a former neighbor who heard someone screaming for help outside her home.
- Raymond MacDonald, a senior manager for T-Mobile.
- Rachel Jeantel, the state's "Witness 8," who began her testimony Wednesday on her last phone call with Trayvon Martin.
Selma Mora, another former neighbor, testified Thursday in Spanish, using an interpreter to translate.
Judge Debra Nelson instructed the jurors that they could only regard Mora's testimony as translated into English by her interpreter. If any of the jurors speaks Spanish and notices a discrepancy in translation, they were instructed to bring it to the judge's attention.
Mora currently lives in Miami, but lived at the Retreat at Twin Lakes in February 2012 with her two children, along with a female friend and her daughter. She described hearing a crying sound outside her home, followed by a "dry" sound she described as a "child falling." She then ran to her back porch to the screen, to keep her daughter's dog from going outside.
Mora said she witnessed the scuffle and heard a gunshot. Then she saw the man on top get up, and the person on the bottom remained lying face down on the ground.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked Mora to recreate for jurors how she reacted when she heard what turned out to be a gunshot and ran out of her home to see what was going on. The request had Selma Mora in the unusual position of standing up from the witness stand and pretending to be in her kitchen in front of the judge's bench.
Jenna Lauer is a former Retreat at Twin Lakes resident who heard a voice screaming for help.
Lauer said she remembered seeing Zimmerman before the night of Feb. 26, 2012. She knew him through the homeowner's association, and recognized him as part of the neighborhood watch.
She then described hearing loud talking and scuffling outside her home that night. She said it then turned into "grunting" and eventually "yelping," and she only heard one voice screaming for help.
"It just sounded like the same voice the whole time," she said, adding the noises stopped after she heard a gunshot.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda played a 911 call Lauer made for the jury.
During cross-examination. Lauer told Mark O'Mara that she could hear the yells better at the scene than one could hear in the recording of her 911 call.
"It sounded like they were in our living room," she said. "It was right there." Lauer added she didn't know who was being attacked.
In the middle of her testimony, de la Rionda told Judge Debra Nelson he had a matter to proffer. He asked if Lauer was aware of a previous restraining order a woman filed against Zimmerman. She said yes.
De la Rionda also brought to the judge's attention that Lauer was following George Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., on Twitter. Her Twitter account showed that she was, but she had never tweeted from the account, and told lawyers she didn't know how to use Twitter. She was dismissed after that discovery.
Lauer's Twitter account was deactivated late Thursday afternoon.
Raymond MacDonald, a T-mobile senior manager, explains Trayvon Martin's phone records.
Prosecutor Rich Mantei showed the jury a sample of Trayvon Martin's phone records. MacDonald said one call, at 7:16 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, went to voice mail, followed by every call after that in the records.
Rachel Jeantel was cross-examined for almost four hours Thursday.
Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Trayvon Martin's considered by many to be the state's "star witness" in the George Zimmerman trial, was back on the stand Thursday as the defense questioned the woman formerly known only as "Witness 8" about why she had given differing accounts about her last phone conversation with the 17-year-old in the moments before he was shot and killed.
Defense attorney Don West asked Jeantel why her accounts about what she heard over the phone right beforeTrayvon Martin encountered Zimmerman differed in a deposition, in a letter to Trayvon's mother, and in an interview with attorney Benjamin Crump.
Jeantel has taken an impatient tone during cross-examination Thursday, answering many of West's questions with, "Yes, sir," and "No, sir."
West spent all of Thursday morning continuing his cross-examination of Rachel Jeantel. He finished around 2 p.m., after a break for lunch.
Jeantel testified for the second day in a row, saying she thought race was an issue because Martin told her he was being followed by a white man.
"He was being followed," Jeantel said.
Her answer came in response to questioning from defense attorney Don West about why she had given differing accounts about what she had heard over the phone when Martin first encountered Zimmerman on a rainy night on Feb. 26, 2012, at the Retreat at Twin Lakes townhome complex.
West suggested in his cross-examination that 19-year-old Jeantel had raised the racial issue in some accounts but not others. In some accounts, West implied, Jeantel said Zimmerman responded one way when he first encountered Martin, but in other accounts she said he responded another way. Jeantel gave her version of events in a deposition, in a letter to Martin's mother and in a recorded interview with an attorney for the Martin family.
Jeantel is one of the prosecution's most important witnesses because she bolsters the contention that Zimmerman was the aggressor. She was on the phone with Martin moments before he was fatally shot.
Jeantel testified Wednesday that her friend's last words were "Get off! Get off!" before the phone went silent. But on Thursday, under cross-examination, she conceded that she hadn't mentioned that in her account of what happened to Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton.
She had left out some details to spare Fulton's feelings, and also because neither Fulton nor the Martin family attorney asked her directly about them, Jeantel said. At one point, West handed her a letter she had written with the help of a friend to Martin's mother explaining what happened. She looked at it but then said she couldn't read cursive handwriting.
When asked by West if she had previously told investigators that she heard what sounded like somebody being hit at the end of her call with Martin, Jeantel said, "Trayvon got hit."
"You don't know that? Do you? You don't know that Trayvon got hit," West answered angrily. "You don't know that Trayvon didn't at that moment take his fists and drive them into George Zimmerman's face."
Jeantel recounted to jurors on Wednesday how Martin told her he was being followed by a man as he walked through the Retreat at Twin Lakes townhome complex on his way back from a convenience store to the home of his father's fiancee.
She testified that Martin described the man following him using a slur used to describe a white person, and that he thought he had evaded him. But she said Martin told her a short time later the man was still behind him, and she told him to run.
Martin said Zimmerman was behind him and she heard Martin ask: "What are you following me for?"
In one account, according to West, she said Zimmerman responds, "What are you doing around here?" In another account, according to West, she says Zimmerman said, "What are you talking about?"
She then heard what sounded like Martin's phone earpiece dropping into wet grass, and she heard him say, "Get off! Get off!" The phone then went dead, she said.
Later, she bristled and teared up when West asked her why she didn't attend Martin's funeral and about lying about her age. She initially told Martin's parents she was a minor when she was 18. She said she didn't want to get involved in the case.
The exchanges also turned testy, including one moment when she urged West to move on to his next question: "You can go. You can go." And she gave him what seemed like a dirty look as he walked away after he had approached her on the stand to challenge her on differences between an initial interview she gave to Martin family attorney, Benjamin Crump, and a later deposition with the defense. Jeantel explained it by saying she "rushed" the interview with Crump because she didn't feel comfortable doing it.
And when the judge asked if both sides wanted to break for the day, prosecutors said they'd like to continue, believing the testimony could take another two hours, to which Jeantel reacted with surprise, repeating, "Two hours?" Instead, the judge decided to continue the cross examination Thursday, carefully instructing Jeantel to return at 9 a.m. and not discuss her testimony with anyone.
Jeantel's testimony was more subdued on Thursday, and West took note of her calmer demeanor. She answered many of West's questions by repeating "yes, sir," almost in a whisper.
"You feeling OK today? You seem different than yesterday," West said.
"I got some sleep," she answered.
Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. Zimmerman followed Martin in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight.
Zimmerman has said he opened fire only after the teenager jumped him and began slamming his head against the concrete sidewalk. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic and has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin's family and their supporters have claimed.
The timing of the George Zimmerman trial has made many wondering if Judge Debra Nelson would allow testimony to continue on Saturdays or on the 4th of July, which is a week from Thursday.
Many noted the Casey Anthony murder trial in 2011 held half-days in court on Saturdays, and the jury began deliberating on July 4th. In both cases, the jurors said they were willing to hear testimony over weekends and the holiday in order to speed up what ended up being a seven-week trial.
Seminole County court officials announced Thursday that there was currently no plan to hold court on Saturdays, and Judge Nelson hoped to have July 4 off, returning to court Friday, July 5.
The announcement added, "Court schedules are subject to change."