CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, June 27, 2013

An interesting way to question a potential witness

From the New York Times, reporting on the Zimmerman trial and the police questioning of Trayvon Martin's girlfriend:

SANFORD, Fla. — Rachel Jeantel, the young woman who spoke to Trayvon Martin moments before his death, came under bruising cross-examination again on Thursday as defense lawyers raised questions about the accuracy of her story and the setting in which she was first interviewed by the chief prosecutor in the case.

In her second day on the witness stand, Ms. Jeantel told jurors that the first time she was interviewed under oath by law enforcement authorities was in the presence of a teary-eyed Sybrina Fulton, Mr. Martin’s mother, on April 2, 2012. The interview took place in Ms. Fulton’s living room, with Ms. Fulton sitting by her side, she said. Ms. Fulton also rode in the car with her as she was being taken to the house for the interview, she added.

. . .

Asked by the defense if her desire to be helpful and spare the mother any uncomfortable feelings prompted her to soften her statements, Ms. Jeantel said yes. Ms. Jeantel also said that she only cleaned up the language, including Mr. Martin’s statement describing George Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker.” She used just “creepy” instead.

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