New York Daily News


Trayvon’s buddy tells jury of chilling phone conversati­on

- BY LISA LUCAS in Sanford, Fla. and DAREH GREGORIAN Photo by Getty

“GET OFF! Get off!”

Those were the final words Trayvon Martin’s friend, Rachel Jeantel, heard him say after he was stopped by neighborho­od watchman George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012.

They were the last words she’d ever hear him say.

Jeantel, 19, told jurors in Zimmerman’s murder trial Wednesday that she was talking to the 17-year-old on the phone as he was on his way home from an early evening trip to a convenienc­e store — and he felt uneasy.

“He kept complainin­g that a man was watching him,” she said, and he described his pursuer as a “creepy ass cracker.”

She said she told him he should run — and then the call dropped out.

“I called him back. I asked him where he was,” she recounted. He told her that he was nearly back at this father’s fiancée’s house in Stanford.

“I said, ‘Keep running!’ He said he lost him,” Jeantel said.

“A couple of seconds later, he said, ‘Oh, s---! That n-----’s behind me!”

She said she could hear Martin say, “Why are you following me for?”

A “hard-breathing man” responded, “What are you doing around here?” she said.

“Then I heard ... a grass sound, And I heard Trayvon saying, ‘Get off! Get off!’ and the phone just shut off.”

“I called him back but he didn’t answer.”

The star witness — who’d previously been described as Martin’s girlfriend — insisted they had just been good friends.

She admitted that she’d previously lied to investigat­ors when she said she’d skipped his funeral because she was hospitaliz­ed.

She said the real reason she didn’t go was that she’d felt “guilty.”

“I’m the last person to talk to him. You don’t know how I feel,” she told jurors. “I didn’t want to see the body.”

Jeantel, who was dressed in black and sported long, orangemani­cured nails, sparred with Zimmerman lawyer Don West during his cross-examinatio­n and seemed annoyed answering his questions.

Prosecutor­s contend that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin and then tailed him in his Sanford neighborho­od after a police dispatcher advised him not to.

Zimmerman, 29, claims the teenager jumped him, and he shot him in self-defense.

In testimony earlier in the day, neighbor Jayne Surdyka said she heard a boy cry for help that February night before gunshots rang out.

“It was excruciati­ng. I really felt it was a boy’s voice,” she testified.

She looked out her of her window, and could “see two people on the ground one on top of the other. You could hear scuffling and that they were on the ground, like, wrestling.”

She said she heard “pop, pop, pop” sounds after the two scuffled, but only one shot was fired.

After police arrived, the survivor put his hands in the air and said, “I shot him.”

Zimmerman faces up to life in prison if convicted of the top charge, second-degree murder. Rachel Jeantel testifies in slay trial.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States