(SANFORD, Fla.) — A teenage friend of Trayvon Martin was forced to admit on Thursday in the George Zimmerman murder trial that she did not write a letter that was sent to Martin’s mother describing what she allegedly heard on a phone call with Martin moments before he was shot.
Rachel Jeantel was asked to read the letter out loud in court.
“Are you able to read that at all?” defense attorney Don West asked.
Jeantel whispered into the court microphone, “Some but not all. I don’t read cursive.”
The response sent a hush through the packed courtroom.
Jeantel, 19, was unable to read any of the letter save for her name.
The testimony was an attempt to raise questions about the veracity of Jeantel’s testimony. She is a key prosecution witness in the racially charged case.
Zimmerman, 29, is on trial in the Florida courtroom for second degree murder in Martin’s death.
Jeantel was subdued on the stand Thursday, in contrast to her open demeanor towards Zimmerman’s lawyers on Wednesday. Her behavior was so different that defense lawyer Don West asked whether someone had spoken to her about her behavior on the stand.
Jeantel was the last person to speak on the phone with Martin moments before he was shot to death by Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012.
During nearly two hours of cross examination Wednesday, West tried to raise questions about her version of events and accused her of telling several lies under oath, including about her whereabouts during Martin’s wake.
“Under oath, you created a lie and said you went to the hospital?” asked West.
“Yes,” responded Jeantel. She said she lied because she didn’t want to see the body.
Jeantel became increasingly agitated and scoffed when West told her that she would have to continue testifying.
She is seen as a critical witness to the prosecution because she is the only person able to say that Martin, 17, claimed that he noticed a strange man following him and that he was scared. Jeantel said Martin described the stranger as a “creepy ass cracker.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ian Kerner, CNN
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN