At the George Zimmerman trial, the testimony of key witness Rachel Jeantel generated wide interest and strong reactions Wednesday afternoon.
Her testimony was playing on HLN, CNN and MSNBC. Fox News Channel carried her for a while but cut to other news. Yet the local stations stayed with Jeantel through the afternoon.
Jeantel was on the phone with Trayvon Martin the night he was fatally shot by Zimmerman. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder.
How was Jeantel doing? Central Florida News 13 Mark NeJame said: "I don't think she's a good witness for the state. She doesn't present well. She admitted to lying."
NeJame said she was hard to follow and gave disjointed answers. "Some of her testimony is very helpful to the state, if she is to believed," NeJame said. "From watching her on TV, I'm sorry I have a hard time with her credibility."
Diana Tennis, legal analyst for WOFL-Channel 35, said that Martin's family seemed frustrated with Jeantel's performance on the stand.
"I think the state thought this was going to be a star witness, and she is critical as far as the timeline is concerned," Tennis said. But Tennis said Jeantel was irritated with defense attorney Don West and "the attitude just escalated from there. ... That is not the attitude you want from your star witness when it's critical that the jury believe her."
Judge Alex Ferrer, also an analyst for WOFL, faulted Jeantel's attitude as being offensive and said she was hard to understand because of mumbling. Still, Ferrer said that Jeantel helped the state by testifying that Trayvon said "get off me" to Zimmerman.
The defense was keeping Jeantel on the stand to make her unlikable to the jury, Ferrer theorized. "And that may very well happen," he added.
The later analyses suggested the defense's strategy had paid off.
WKMG-Channel 6 anchor Lauren Rowe said Jeantel's testimony had gotten "a little bizarre." WKMG legal analyst Luis Calderon found it "very bizarre."
"She doesn't want to own up to any of the things she's done, any of the things she's said in the past," Calderon said. "It makes her credibility called completely into question."
NeJame said Jeantel is a young woman who should be held to adult standards in telling the truth. NeJame was astonished that Jeantel said she could hear wet grass. "In all my years, I still have not understood what wet grass sounds like," NeJame said.
Tennis was amazed at Jeantel's odd behavior in court. "My 10-year-old niece would know how to act in a courtroom better," Tennis said.
In a memorable moment, Jeantel was furious to learn that she had to return to the stand Thursday morning.
The analysts generally found Jeantel devastating -- to the state.
Calderon said that Jeantel was "unraveling" as she went through a roller coaster of emotions on the stand. "She's got no credibility," he said.
NeJame told CNN: "Can she be believed beyond a reasonable doubt? Of course not." The prosecution was doing the best it could, but Jeantel hurt Trayvon by quoting him using racial epithets, NeJame added.
WFTV-Channel 9 legal analyst Bill Sheaffer blasted Jeantel's combative performance, especially at the end. "It was a classic meltdown. I haven't seen such a meltdown in about 35 years," Sheaffer said. "You may see the first unraveling of the state's case. It better get better from here. If it doesn't, they have real problems."
WESH-Channel 2 legal analyst Alisia Adamson said Jeantel's credibility was shot. Fellow WESH analyst Jeff Deen said Jeantel was "totally impeached."
What did you think of Jeantel's performance?
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