World & Nation

Trayvon Martin friend says she told him to flee in last calls

Trayvon Martin friend says she told him to flee in last calls
Defense attorneys Mark O’Mara, left, and Don West, defendant George Zimmerman and attorney Lorna Truett listen to testimony Wednesday.
(Jacon Langston / Pool Photo)

Rachel Jeantel, the last person to talk to Trayvon Martin, testified that she told the unarmed black teenager to run after he told her that he thought he was being followed.

Jeantel, considered a key prosecution witness,  took the stand at the George Zimmerman murder trial Wednesday. She spoke in soft tones and reached frequently for tissues to wipe her eyes as she recounted talking by cellphone with the 17-year-old Martin.


Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder and has said he shot Martin in self-defense.

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Asked whether she and Martin were boyfriend and girlfriend, Jeantel, now 19, said, “No, we were just friends.”

On the night of Feb. 26, 2012, she was in Miami, talking on her cellphone with Martin, who was in Sanford, Fla. He told her that he was going to the store to get some candy and a drink for his future stepbrother.

Then, she said, he became concerned.

“A man was watching him,” Jeantel said Martin told her several times. “He said a man kept watching him.


 “I asked him how the man looked like,” she said. Martin replied that he “looked like a creepy ... cracker,” she said, using a slang term for a white person.

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Jeantel said she warned Martin the man might be a rapist, which he laughed off. They continued chatting, but Martin then said the man was still trailing him and he was going to try to lose him.

At that point, Jeantel said, she told Martin to run.


The phone cut off, but she called him back and Martin answered and said he still was trying to lose the man following him.

“I said ‘Oh, you better keep running.’”

By now, she said Martin was breathing heavily. At one point he told her he had lost the man following him. Then, she said, Martin said, “Oh [expletive],” and told her the man was behind him again.

What followed, Jeantel testified, was an apparent confrontation between the two.

She said she heard Martin say, “What are you following me for?”

“And then I heard a hard-breathing man say, ‘What are you doing around here?’”

Then, she said, she heard a bump and assumed it was the sound of Martin’s earplugs falling to the ground. A second later, the call dropped.

Her credibility has come into question because she lied about not attending Martin’s funeral. Jeantel said she was in the hospital, but later admitted lying.

Asked by lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda why she did not go to her friend’s funeral, she replied, “I didn’t want to see the body.”

She said she also felt guilty about having to see Martin’s parents after his death. Asked why, she said because “I was the last person that talked to their son.”

Jeantel began weeping at that point, wiping away tears with white tissues.

She will face cross-examination when court resumes.


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