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Following day four of the George Zimmerman trial – and a second straight day of testimony from Trayvon Martin's friend – on Thursday evening "Piers Morgan Live" invited Natalie Jackson to offer her insight into the background and experience of Rachel Jeantel, the state's supposed star witness.
"I've only met her once but I'll tell you this is a person that did not want to testify," explained Jackson, the Martin family attorney. "She didn't want to talk to Sybrina Fulton [Martin's mother] about this case, and she certainly didn't want to talk to police officers about this case.”
Describing the young woman who's been shoved under the microscope over the course of the past few days, Jackson continued:
“I think we have to put her into context, Piers. She's 19 years old. She heard her friend die. She heard the last moments of her friend's life and didn't find out about it until later that he died from that phone conversation," Jackson told Piers Morgan. "Since then, this is a national spotlight case, so everyone in the world is criticizing her testimony that's been all over the internet, her interview, the way she speaks, the way they thought she looked because they thought she was someone else. It not easy for a 19-year-old and even today, Rachel Jeantel had to go through it for a year and a half and will have to keep going through it.”
On the heels of another dramatic day in court at the George Zimmerman trial, on Thursday “Piers Morgan Live” invited a host of experts to discuss the impact ofstar witnessRachel Jeantel’s testimony, and the significance of the case's all-female jury.
Jury Consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius weighed in on Jeantel’s appearance and behavior, noting that such factors can greatly influence the opinions of jurors:
“She comes in in jeans and a sweater and a little blouse. It's not exactly creating the image of what I think the prosecution wants to present. It does not have the respect that usually a witness has when they walk into the courtroom, number one," detailed Dimitrius. "Number two, I think her demeanor in terms of how she responded to the defense yesterday, before she was worked with last night, certainly did not show again any respect for what happens in the courtroom. Jurors are painfully aware of a witness coming in. This becomes their home and when they see a witness react the way that Rachel did, that's going to be very disturbing, and we also know, finally, that women are much harder on other women than men are in evaluating a woman.”
Maya K. Francis however, pointed out that Jeantel is only human - and a young one at that:
“There was a lot of flak that Rachel caught with respect to her demeanor and what people expect of her. And I think that it's important to recognize that she's 19," said the writer, and brand strategist. "She's, you know, been a witness to a horrible crime, and she's sitting feet away from someone who’s admitted to killing one of her good friends.”
The “demeanor” to which Francis refers has manifested, in some people's opinions, as a blow to the witness’s credibility. But Judge Glenda Hatchett refuted such a conclusion, arguing that her candidness reinforced her reliability:
“I wouldn't go as far to say that she was consistent, but I would say, Piers, that I thought that she was authentic," sighted the the former star of the court show "Judge Hatchett." "Because she could have come in and said all these floury wonderful things and yes, I heard Zimmerman threaten to kill him. I mean, she really wanted to come in and say some things and really be a liar, she could have."