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CNN NEWSROOM

Live Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial

Aired June 27, 2013 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RACHEL JEANTEL, WITNESS: When I met up with you.

DON WEST, DEFENSE: ATTORNEY: So, never before I met with you in March did you ever tell anyone exactly what you heard Trayvon Martin say? Correct?

JEANTEL: About the person? Describing the person?

WEST: Yes. In any of the interviews where you are asked what was said, what happened next.

JEANTEL: What was said, yes, I did. By describing him. No, I did not. I said creepy.

WEST: You said, some dude's follow --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One at a time because the court reporter has to take down both voices. If you allow her to finish her answer. Are you finished with your answer?

JEANTEL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. You may ask the next question.

WEST: Of course, you wouldn't say it to Sybrina Fulton because it was offensive. Correct?

JEANTEL: Yes. That was disrespectful. And I said it --

WEST: Of course it was. Yes. You may not consider it a racial comment, but it is certainly offensive, isn't it?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: You don't think calling someone a creepy-ass cracker is offensive?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: So -- but you specifically chose not to tell Ms. Fulton that's what Trayvon Martin said.

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: Because you thought it would hurt her feelings, didn't you?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: You didn't think that would bother her if you said that her son described the man that was following him in a car on the phone --

JEANTEL: I didn't think that was important. I did not think that was important.

WEST: Not important enough to put in the letter. And not important enough to tell her --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection. Asked and answered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we move on to another topic?

WEST: Just to be clear then, you didn't include that in the letter and you didn't include it on the conversation you had on March 19th with Ms. Fulton.

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: When you were interviewed by Mr. Crump and later that day you didn't say it.

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: And then you were interviewed in -- but you did say to Mr. Crump that you thought the event itself was a racial thing?

JEANTEL: Yes. He asked me and I said yes.

WEST: And I was asking you then what made you think that and then you were saying just because of the description. Is that what you're saying?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: The description being that there was a man on a phone in a car watching him?

JEANTEL: Yes. (INAUDIBLE)

WEST: Pardon me?

JEANTEL: And following him.

WEST: Right. So, you took that to be racial?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: Without any additional information?

JEANTEL: No .

WEST: On April 2nd -- on April 2nd, you had an opportunity to meet with the prosecutor, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: Up until that point you had never spoken with law enforcement?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: Even --

(END LIVE FEED)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have to pay the bills. We'll take a break. NEWSROOM will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: All right. We want to take you back inside that Sanford, Florida, courtroom. Don West, George Zimmerman's -- one of his attorneys, is now questioning Rachel Jeantel, the woman who was on the cell phone with Trayvon Martin shortly before he died. He's now asking her about text messages in late April and March. Let's listen.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

WEST: So when you -- I didn't think you watched television. I'm sorry.

JEANTEL: That was before March 19th. March 20th that's when I started watching the television, that's when my voice (ph) came on the television. That's when I started paying attention to the news.

WEST: So on March 20th when they had the press conference about you --

JEANTEL: No, I didn't see the press conference. They only show half of it saying Trayvon was on the phone with the final moments.

WEST: Did the news that you're talking about that had your voice on it was the recording made by ABC News?

JEANTEL: Yes. I think so.

WEST: Did you talk with somebody from ABC news separately from your interview with Mr. Crump?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: And when and where was that, please.

JEANTEL: I don't remember (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't remember --

JEANTEL: I don't remember, it was by phone.

WEST: And when approximately after March 19th was the day that you were interviewed. When did you, after that, talk with the reporter from ABC news?

JEANTEL: I don't remember.

WEST: Roughly.

JEANTEL: Before, before I even talked to the state attorney.

WEST: Some time between March 19th after -- when you gave your interview to Mr. Crump --

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: And you didn't know you were being recorded then by ABC, correct?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: But after that, though, you had a separate phone interview with ABC?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: Was it the next day, the day after, a week later, any idea?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: And who was it that you talked with?

JEANTEL: I don't know their name.

WEST: Did he know your name?

JEANTEL: He didn't know my real name (INAUDIBLE)

WEST: Did you give him a name?

JEANTEL: (INAUDIBLE)

WEST: I can't hear the witness. Can the court ask the witness --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you speak up a little bit, please?

JEANTEL: He told me he got my number or she had got my number from the ABC reporter. She had text me saying she wanted to know about Trayvon. What kind of person he was. Can I have a talk about Trayvon with her about something about Trayvon, what kind of person he was.

WEST: So you got a text from somebody that the media wanted to talk with you further?

JEANTEL: It was an ABC woman.

WEST: Right.

JEANTEL: It was an ABC woman.

WEST: And then you gave --

JEANTEL: She had called. She text.

WEST: And then you agreed to have a separate recorded interview?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: And do you know the person that interviewed you?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: Did you tell them the name Diamond Eugene?

JEANTEL: I just told them, he asked me, how do you want me to call you? He asked me how he want me to say (INAUDIBLE), I say Dee Dee, that's when Dee Dee started popping up.

WEST: So you used the nickname Dee Dee to identify yourself?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: Did you tell that person how old you were?

JEANTEL: No, he didn't ask me that.

WEST: He didn't ask your real name?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: So, that was some time after March 19th, but before April 2nd, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: And did you have any other interviews with anybody between March -- between the ABC interview and April 2nd?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: On April 2nd, you were interviewed by Mr. De la Rionda (ph)?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And there were other agents there with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So, this was your first interview with law enforcement?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: When you interviewed with Mr. Crump, you were rushed and you didn't take it seriously and you weren't under oath, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: But on April 2nd you were under oath? JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And you're being interviewed by the police?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And it was recorded?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: From the state attorney's office, now, at this point, the Jacksonville state attorney's office was involved in the case as opposed to the Seminole County state attorney office, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So, Mr. De la Rionda said I'm from Jacksonville, I'm down here to interview you and introduced you to --

(END LIVE FEED)

COSTELLO: We're going to step away from this for just a second to explain why this line of questioning is so important. And, of course, the defense attorney, Don West, is asking Rachel Jeantel about text messages, phone calls, and television interviews she did in late March.

Right around that time, there were petitions going around. And things were really heating up. People were trying to urge the Sanford Police Department to charge George Zimmerman. In fact, it was right around late March that a special prosecutor was appointed to look over the case to see if charges would be filed. Let's head to Sanford now and check in with Sunny Hostin. Tell me further why this line of questioning is important, Sunny.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, Carol. Bottom line is for this witness, the star witness for the prosecution credibility is everything. Will this jury believe her? So, the defense's job is to poke holes into her story and one way to do that is to find out if she's given different versions of her story to different people.

There's always that feeling, I think, by people that if you speak to the media that perhaps you're a fame seeker or perhaps you're trying to sell your story, or shade your story, make your story more sensational. So the defense will want to point out that she was speaking to the media as opposed to speaking to the police department.

They will try to find out the substance of those conversations and whether or not those conversations were different with the conversations that she did have with law enforcement officers when she was under oath. So, this is actually a critical piece of questioning for the defense. They got to try to catch her in some lies.

COSTELLO: She never called police or prosecutors or anybody and told them that she was on the phone with Trayvon Martin. I believe Don West is now asking her about when police did finally question her about the phone call. Let's listen.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

WEST: Right beside you during this interview was Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Mr. Martin was also there, but not in the room, correct?

JEANTEL: No, sir. He left before I stepped inside the living room.

WEST: He left the living room, in other words?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: You don't know that he left the residence, do you?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: He may have still been there, but just not in the room with you.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Also in the room was one or more Martin family attorneys, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Who were they?

JEANTEL: I don't know their names, sir.

WEST: Do you know Natalie Jackson?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Was she there?

JEANTEL: On top of the stairs sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry.

JEANTEL: On top of the stairs.

WEST: So you knew she was there and present, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Was Mr. Crump present?

JEANTEL: No, he left before we stepped inside the house.

WEST: But you saw him that night.

JEANTEL: Not that night, that afternoon. WEST: When you say that afternoon, tell me about that. I'm sorry, maybe I misspoke. The interview itself took place in the early evening, didn't it?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So you met with Mr. Crump earlier that day?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: Tell me then what you mean that you saw him?

JEANTEL: When he went to -- the detective and then --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, detective and --

JEANTEL: Ms. Sybrina and he had joined in. Came with them to pick me up from my residence so I could go back there and interview with the state. That's my first time meeting Crump.

WEST: The other time it was only on the phone when you talked with him.

JEANTEL: When I interviewed, yes.

WEST: On this date on April 2nd, 2012 you met him because he was one of the people that went to your friend's house to pick you up?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: To bring you to Ms. Fulton's house, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: This interview took place at Sybrina Fulton's home in her living room? Correct?

JEANTEL: Yes sir.

WEST: So Mr. Crump came to your friend's home to pick you up along with whom?

JEANTEL: All of us.

WEST: Of your friend's house.

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: So Mr. Crump came to get you, correct?

JEANTEL: Not come and get me. He was in another car.

WEST: Two cars came to get you.

JEANTEL: Detectives and stuff.

WEST: So that afternoon Mr. Crump was in one of the cars that was dispatched to go pick you up?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: And you were in the front yard of your friend's house?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And law enforcement also was involved in picking you up?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: You don't know why then law enforcement would permit Mr. Crump to come with them.

JEANTEL: I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection -- beyond the witness' knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sustained. That's beyond her knowledge.

WEST: I am asking whether she knew or not and she said no. The court would give me a little leeway on this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ask your next question.

WEST: Do you have -- do you know why law enforcement allowed Mr. Crump to come with them to pick you up?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: Who else was there? Was Ms. Fulton with them?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Do you know why law enforcement allowed Ms. Fulton to be there?

JEANTEL: Because she's the only person who knew where my friend live at. She lived by my friend area.

WEST: Ms. Fulton lives near where your friend lives?

JEANTEL: Yes sir.

WEST: But law enforcement had your phone number, they could have just called and asked you where you were, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Mr. Crump had your phone number. He could have called and asked where you were? Pardon me.

JEANTEL: I'm not sure he had my number. I do not know if Crump had my number.

WEST: In the interview he took of you on March 19th, didn't he say we're having trouble with this phone, let me call you back? JEANTEL: He had my number then.

WEST: From a 904 number. And he called you back on your phone.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Ms. Jeantel, I'm not saying you did anything wrong. So please don't take it that way. I'm trying to understand the dynamics of this, though.

JEANTEL: I know, sir.

WEST: Ok, thank you. If I'm harsh in my tone, it's not because I'm suggesting you did anything wrong here. But I'm trying to understand what the overall context of this first law enforcement interview was.

So the people that came to pick you up included law enforcement, but it also included Ben Crump and Sybrina --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May we approach the bench?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just ask her the question. Just ask her the question, who was there?

WEST: I would be -- I'd like permission to ask leading questions of this witness on cross-examination one step at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I've asked you to do it one step at a time.

WEST: My question is this, just to be clear as to who was present, law enforcement, FDLA agents were present?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: Ben Crump was present, Sybrina Fulton was present in these two vehicles that came to pick you up on the afternoon of April 2nd, 2012?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And was Mr. De la Rionda present?

JEANTEL: I don't remember him. Like I was at back of the car.

WEST: Do you know of anybody else being present?

JEANTEL: I do remember a tall dude.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do remember --

JEANTEL: A tall person?

WEST: Did you ever see him again later that evening?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir. WEST: Was he in the room?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: You don't recall his name, though?

JEANTEL: TC.

WEST: TC. Do you know that person to be an investigator with Mr. De la Rionda's office?

JEANTEL: Yes sir.

WEST: Was there anybody else?

JEANTEL: In the car?

WEST: Either of the cars?

JEANTEL: I don't know who was in the other car but I did know who was in the car.

WEST: I can't hear you, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you speak a little louder.

JEANTEL: I do not know who was in the other car, but I do know who was in the car I was in.

WEST: Let's start there, then. Who was in the car with you?

JEANTEL: TC and I think he was in the car that I -- I think he was in the car.

WEST: Mr. De la Rionda.

JEANTEL: Yes I did see a bald dude. No offense. And --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok. We have a juror who didn't hear the answer. Could you please speak up? If you could face the microphone a little bit better.

JEANTEL: TC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the wrong microphone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speak there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Try that. .

JEANTEL: TC, in the front of the car was TC. The bald headed dude.

WEST: This guy?

JEANTEL: Yes -- sorry. I didn't know you and Sybrina and me.

WEST: And you went from your friend's house to Miss Fulton's house.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And the people that you've already identified so far were in the room with you when the interview took place?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Anybody else? Any other family members?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: Any other lawyers?

JEANTEL: Another -- another lawyer from the Martin family?

WEST: Right he was kind of a big guy?

JEANTEL: A big guy, yes, sir.

WEST: Do you know his name?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: Would you know it if I said it?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: No?

So when the interview began in Miss Fulton's living room, you were seated next to Miss Fulton and were the other people that you've identified, other than Tracy Martin, in the room then? Or close by?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir. Was in the living room.

WEST: I take it you knew that Miss Fulton would be hearing exactly what you said because you were sitting next to her?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And you certainly didn't want to say anything that you thought would hurt her feelings or make her grief even worse?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So because of that, you were very sensitive to Miss Fulton's feelings when you answered Mr. De La Rionda's questions?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have to take another break. We'll be right back with more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: All right, let's go back to that Sanford Courtroom right now. Rachel Jeantel is still testifying. The defense asking her about her very first police interrogation about the matter, about what exactly was said in that last phone call with Trayvon Martin and also why so many people accompanied her to this police interview, including Trayvon Martin's parents and the parents' lawyer. Let's listen.

WEST: You were making it sound different than it actually was, to keep from hurting Miss Fulton's feelings?

JEANTEL: Not at all, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry?

JEANTEL: Not all of them, sir.

WEST: Not all of the answers, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes sir.

WEST: But some of the answers?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Some of the -- some of the answers about language, for example?

JEANTEL: Yes. That's the only one --

Yes?

JEANTEL: That's the only thing that I changed around, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the only thing that I changed around?

JEANTEL: That I did not say.

WEST: So the only thing that you didn't say that was accurate was the language that Trayvon Martin used?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir. I didn't think it was that important. He did not ask me what was Trayvon -- he did not ask me if Trayvon was describing the man. He just told me -- I didn't think it was that important at all. He had asked me how Trayvon -- I said creepy, only thing I said was creepy. I'm not going to say it in front of people.

WEST: You weren't going to say what Trayvon Martin actually said in front of his mother?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: Of course. Of course. No one is arguing with you about that. But that's the decision that you made, was basically to clean it up?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: You knew she was grieving. She had just lost a son. You were very sensitive to that, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir. WEST: In fact, as you were explaining what happened in answering Mr. de la Rionda's questions with Miss Fulton sitting beside you, she was crying, wasn't she?

JEANTEL: She was -- not crying. Just tearing up about when I started telling what happened that night.

WEST: Again, it's so hard to hear, but did you say that she may -- she wasn't crying but she was tearing up?

JEANTEL: Yes. Just tearing up.

WEST: Tears coming out of her eyes?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: Do you associate that with pain and grief and suffering?

JEANTEL: Of course.

WEST: You also, though, told Mr. de la Rionda under oath you had gone to the hospital, correct?

JEANTEL: He had asked me did I go to the hospital and I said yes.

WEST: So, you -- I know that you had said that earlier to Mr. Crump and to Miss Fulton to give a plausible --