Zimmerman attorney tries to discredit witness
SANFORD, Fla. -- George Zimmerman's defense attorney insisted during testy exchanges with a key prosecution witness Thursday that Trayvon Martin injected race into a confrontation with the neighborhood watch volunteer and asserted there were inconsistencies in her story.
However, Rachel Jeantel, 19, stood firm in her testimony about the night Zimmerman shot the unarmed black teenager after a fight that Jeantel said she overheard while on the phone with Martin. Jeantel has said Martin told her he was being followed by a "creepy-ass cracker" -- implying Martin was being followed by a white man because of his race.
Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Race has permeated nationwide discussions of the case since the February 2012 shooting, which prompted nationwide protests and claims from critics that police took too long to arrest Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and says he acted in self-defense.
Defense attorney Don West zeroed in on slight differences among three different accounts of what happened before Martin's killing, in an apparent effort to discredit her. Jeantel has described what she heard over the phone in a deposition, a letter to Martin's mother and an interview with the Martin family attorney. Among the differences highlighted by West: in some accounts, she said race was an issue, but not in others.
Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. He followed Martin and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight.
Zimmerman has said he opened fire only after the teenager jumped him and began slamming his head against the concrete sidewalk.