The highly publicized murder trial of George Zimmerman took a surprising turn Thursday when a star witness in the case, Rachel Jeantel, made the admission that she is illiterate, despite her claim that she helped compose a letter containing information regarding the shooting death of her friend, 17-year-old Treyvon Martin.
While on the witness stand Thursday, 19-year-old Jeantel declined to read a letter she told prosecutors contained her recollection of her phone call with Martin moments before he was killed on Feb. 26, 2012. The Miami Norland Senior high school student, who testified Martin was hit during that call, was forced to admit she is illiterate. While Jeantel first acknowledged she was unable to read the copy or recognize if the letter was the same one composed with the help of a friend, she later claimed, “I don’t read cursive,” reported the Miami Herald.
Following her admission, defense attorney Don West reportedly questioned the teen's ability to understand English, according to HLN-TV. "I don't understand you, I do understand English," said Jeantel. "I understand English really well." According to the Miami Herald, Jeantel speaks Creole, Spanish and English.
Despite the teen receiving criticism for some of her testimony, the Martin family’s attorney, Daryl Parks, said Jeantel did her part as a witness in the trial. “She is not a lawyer,” said Parks outside Seminole County Courthouse Thursday. “She is a young lady going into the 12th grade, and she did her best,” he said.
Earlier in her testimony against Zimmerman, the 29-year-old Florida native and neighborhood "watchman" who claims he shot and killed Martin in self-defense, Jeantel caused a stir when she seemed to argue with West and changed her response. Originally claiming she “could have” heard Martin’s final words telling Zimmerman to “get off,” she later said she definitely “could hear Trayvon,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
The trial continues at 9 a.m. ET Friday. Watch the live stream of the George Zimmerman trial here.