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July 1st, 2013
10:29 PM ET

Attorney for Rachel Jeantel: "[She] should have been on the stand for no more than an hour"

Monday may have marked the start of the second week in the George Zimmerman trial, but few have forgotten about the star witness of week one, Rachel Jeantel.

A friend of the late Trayvon Martin, who was on the phone with the Florida teen prior to his death, many felt Jeantel's testimony yielded more questions than answers, leaving experts and observers alike to wonder if she hadn't actually helped the defense more than the state.

With rumors swirling surrounding a potential return to the stand for Jeantel, on Monday evening "Piers Morgan Live" invited her attorney – Rod Vareen – to offer his perspective on her appearances thus far:

"It was my job to try to explain to her what the dynamics of the courtroom were going to be. She didn't understand that there was going to be this good cop/bad cop mentality amongst the lawyers," explained the man who only last week began representing Jeantel.

In preparing their witness to take the stand, the prosecution was able to go over the precise questions they planned to ask. However, predicting the cross-examination of the defense proved challenging, and ultimately left Jeantel open to an intense, and lengthy, verbal onslaught:

"They usually try to play the devil's advocate and ask the questions. But in this particular case, trying to decide what questions Don West was going to ask, was pretty hard for the prosecution," noted Vareen. "This is a witness that should have been on the stand for no more than an hour. However, she ended up being on the stand for five and a half hours over the span of two days."

Joining the program live out of Davie, Florida, Jeantel's lawyer explained the extreme resistance his client had shown in even participating in the trial, and the ways in which the defense took advantage of her inexperience:

"Her testimony was completely unrehearsed and it was obvious that it was unrehearsed, the demeanor that she had in the courtroom was the result of a confrontation that she had with Mr. West at the prior depositions of the two days that she sat down with him when he tried to brow beat her then," he revealed. "She tried to maintain her composure. And Mr. West did exactly what he did in the depositions, is that he attacked her, and put her on the defensive. Now, she's a 19-year-old young lady from the inner city and had no experience in the courtroom whatsoever, she's not trained to be a witness. It took a lot of courage for her to come out of her shell to be a witness. She tried to avoid being in the limelight at all cost."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with Rod Vereen, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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Filed under: The Big Story
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. gary wernholm

    whats her attorney hollaring about? it's her star witness.

    July 1, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 333maxwell

    For the curious minded. I took the infamous 911 tape into the studio.

    It OBVIOUSLY would not be court admissible (they barely allowed the real ones), but this is a unique and somewhat legitimate way at taking a look at the call in question.

    I compressed it so the lows came up a bit, limited it so you can hear other low sounds without your ears bleeding when the shots ring out. I then (thanks to the wonders of digital, couldn't do this with tape) slowed it down to just over half speed but PITCHED it back up to 100%. In other words.. you can hear the call without it hurting your ears, at a speed that is easier to digest and get a sense of. The pitch however is true to source. And there has been no EQ or altering ANY of the tonalities, although there are inherent nuanced swirly artifacts from slowing anything down that radically.

    Anyway, make of it what you will.. if you want to actually HEAR (what you can) the call, I wouldn't discount taking a listen to this version. The way I have done it is almost akin to the audio version of slowing down a video tape.

    Zimmerman Martin Altercation

    http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11548279

    July 1, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. E. Marsh

    First, it is apparent that G. Zimmerman stalked and provoked a 17 year old minor and killed him as he was headed home. Who is the law enforcement authority that issued G. Zimmerman's concealed weapons permit? The Sanford Police must also be liable for T. Martin death since they should have known that G. Zimmerman was armed with CCW permit since the gun permit was most likely issued by them since G. Zimmerman lives in their jurisdiction. Why did the police dispatcher fail to ask G. Zimmerman if he was armed with a firearm during the non-emergency telephone conversation? The homeowners' association of the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the Florida housing complex employed G. Zimmerman as the Neighborhood Watch Captain and has already settled a wrongful death civil case for 1 million dollars+! Did the Sanford Police Department also post "Neighborhood Watch" signs in the housing complex since the Police Department most likely coordinated standard operating procedures for Neighborhood Watch members. So many wrongs. We must go back to the onset of this tragic death. It was wrong from the point that G. Zimmerman exited his vehicle. There no rationalizations. G. Zimmerman should have "just watched T. Martin" walk back to his home and reported the facts to Police. Wow... would it have been great that to just have Sanford Police Department knock on T. Martin's door to find out the who, what, when, why, where, and how come without any loss of life????!!!!
    🙁

    July 2, 2013 at 12:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Zoche

      I don't think you are seeing this trial the way all of America is seeing it. I wonder why all the journalists and people like you are not calling for a hate crime in the case of the NJ woman who was beatened. The poor woman was beaten senseless by a man 4x larger than her repeatedly. Didn't he subdue her and didn't need to beat the hell out of her over and over. Is that on tape a hate crime, seeing her just lying there being treated like an animal should not. Yet, I see a man committing a hate crime. He hated a white woman. I bet you his case will be plead down into a minimal sentence because she chose not to die.

      July 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. A. Johnson

    I thought Rachel Jeantel was dressed appropriately for her appearance in court. Her hair was done well. She wore an attractive ruffled rust colored top with a black shirt or jacket and black slacks. She wore earrings and a pretty necklace.
    Her nails were done. For a 19 year old I thought she did a great job of dressing for her appearance in court. I am a white female, and, a former teacher. I am also an artist and know that her colors and variety of textures were just fine. Her nails were a soft beige and not a garish color at all. I thought she looked just like she should look. She wasn't supposed to come to court looking like Gloria Allred!

    July 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dillon Schroeder

      There is some truth to what you say, but she is so confused & confusing I believe the Judge should just instruct to ignore her "testimony"

      July 7, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bruce

    Thank you Star Jones for defending Rachel!! I can't believe the hateful attacks that have been made against this witness!

    July 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. stph65

    They need to bring back in the first female officer on that video Zimmerman asked her why did you move around on the other side was that some kind of detective work

    July 3, 2013 at 11:20 am | Report abuse | Reply
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