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Live Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial

Aired June 27, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": ... two major stories developing.

In Africa, this hour, President Obama taking the world stage as the man who inspired his political career, Nelson Mandela, clings to life.

And Michael Jackson's 16-year-old son testifies his father often cried and said, quote, "They're going to kill me." All of that right before he died. Find out just who they are and if they are in trouble because of it.

You know, up until just yesterday, she was a 19-year-old student in 12th grade, largely anonymous to just about everybody, but in one day Rachel Jeantel has spent more time on television than the president of the United States, and she is back on TV today because she is back on the witness stand today in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

She is the state's star witness because she is Trayvon Martin's friend and because she and only she spent just about the entire day on and off the telephone with Trayvon right up until the moment he was shot dead by George Zimmerman.

Her testimony has been contentious, frustrating, foggy, and gripping, but maybe most important, it's critical.

George Howell doing the live reporting for us in Sanford, Florida, following this gavel to gavel.

All right, so just give me the quick -- catch me up to speed, if we're just tuning in right now, how has the morning gone so far and what has she said?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, good morning. OK, so her demeanor is different. Yesterday she seemed a bit combative and at time feisty and dismissive of some questions.

Today she's not that way. You hear her answering questions, yes, sir, no, sir. She seems a lot more subdued than we saw yesterday.

It really comes down to this, Ashleigh. She's made several statements before. She made statements to police. She made statements to attorney Ben Crump. She's making statements now.

And what you see the defense doing, and very carefully you see, trying to compare what she said to different people, trying to find inconsistencies. Real quick, I'll give you an example. The most important right now, it seems to be where she says Trayvon told -- she heard Trayvon say, "Get off! Get off!" and that's before the phone went silent.

Again, that would imply that Trayvon was in a fight, that someone attacked him, and you know, he was trying to protect himself, that he was, in fact, the victim in this case.

So that's what the defense attorney is trying to compare because he'd never heard this before, didn't hear it in the Crump audio interview, didn't hear it with police accounts.

So that's what you find, trying to explain why she's saying certain things now that haven't been said before.

So, George, here's what's intriguing. Look, this is the job of a defense attorney, pick apart every minute detail, the old expression, the devil's in the details. So that's what we're seeing playing out, as frustrating as it can be, and she's 19, so maybe she doesn't understand exactly why it is that it is so much about the minutiae.

But it ended up going very much into race and about the racial elements of this case and of the actual killing itself.

I want to play something for our viewers, and, George, you and I both watched this play out, live. There is language that some people might find very offensive, so the warning is out. If you have kids in the room, you might want them to move away as well.

But I want to play this repartee between the defense attorney Don West and Rachel Jeantel, just so you can see exactly how it played out without editing. Have a look.


DON WEST, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Describing the person is what made you think it was racial.


WEST: And that's because he described him as a "creepy ass cracker."


WEST: So it was racial, but it was because Trayvon Martin put race in this.


WEST: You don't think that's a racial comment?


WEST: You don't think that "creepy ass cracker" is a racial comment?


BANFIELD: All right, so, George, I was just going to ask you -- hold on one second, if you would. I'm sorry to interrupt. I was going to ask you a question over that, but the trial has resumed, so we're going to actually delve into it in a moment.

But let's get right back to the live testimony. This is the complex where George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, the apartment complex where his dad was living with his fiancee. Let's listen.


WEST: But I do want to talk with you about where we left off before the break ...

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: ... and that was at the moment ...

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: May I object to that exhibit being (inaudible). This witness can't identify what it is. There's no purpose in it, this exhibit being (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be questioning about the exhibit?

WEST: I want the exhibit on so the jury can put this witness' testimony in the context of what has already been acknowledged to be the community, Retreat at Twin lakes.


WEST: So what I'd like you to do, ma'am, is pick up at the point where we left off before the break, and that was when Trayvon Martin began to run and the phone disconnected, OK?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: You knew that he was running at that point because you could hear wind?

JEANTEL: Yes, Mr. West. Yes, Mr. West.

WEST: So now only had you told him to run, but you believed that he was running.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And that's when the phone cut off?

JEANTEL: Yes, Mr. West.

WEST: And then about 20 seconds later, you reconnected and you were able to talk with him?

JEANTEL: Yes, Mr. West.

WEST: And you don't know where he was exactly at that point, correct?