Zimmerman Verdict: Witness Rachel Jeantel Says Confrontation Was 'Racial'

9:53 PM PST 07/15/2013 by THR Staff, Associated Press
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Rachel Jeantel on the stand during the trial.

"If Trayvon was white and he had a hoodie on, what would happen?" she asks CNN's Piers Morgan of the altercation that left Florida teen Trayvon Martin dead.

Rachel Jeantel, the prosecution's controversial star witness in the George Zimmerman trial, thinks the altercation between him and Florida teen Trayvon Martin was racially motivated.

"It was racial," she said on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight on Monday. "Let's be honest. Racial. If he were white, if Trayvon was white and he had a hoodie on, what would happen?"

Jeantel was talking with Martin by cell phone moments before he was fatally shot by Zimmerman.  Jeantel said she was “disappointed, upset and angry” over Zimmerman's acquittal and said the jury's assessment of the situation was "just B.S."

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Jeantel told Morgan that the altercation happened in the early evening, when many people are out walking their dogs or doing other things.

During the interview, Morgan played back a recording of a juror's comments to CNN about Jeantel's education level and speech, and she said it made her sad and angry. Jeantel, who is black, said she also had a feeling that the jury would return a not-guilty verdict.

"They're white," she said of the jury at one point. "Well, one Hispanic. But she's stuck in the middle. I had a feeling it was going to be a 'not guilty.'"

While the court did not release the racial makeup of the jury, the panel appeared to reporters covering jury selection to be made up of five white women and a sixth who may be Hispanic.

STORY: Zimmerman Juror: His 'Heart Was in the Right Place'

Jeantel also described friend Martin as a "calm, chill, loving person" whom she never saw lose his temper. She claimed that the defense attempted to erroneously portray Martin as a "thug."

Jeantel's testimony stirred up controversy, with many viewers and the media criticizing her demeanor. The Huffington Post, for example, noted her "at times dismissive, aggressive and seemingly hostile attitude." Others questioned whether she helped -- or hurt -- the prosecution's case.

"To me, the fact that she was irritated to be there was a major factor because that’s something that is difficult to explain away," former prosecutor Elura Nanos told The Huffington Post last month. "Why wouldn’t she want to be there? There’s no clear reason why she wouldn’t want to be there other than it’s just an inconvenience."

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Responding to the criticism lobbied at her speaking skills in recent weeks, Jeantel said she has an underbite that hampers her communication. Asked by Morgan if she'd been bullied because of it, Jeantel replied -- to laughter from the studio audience -- "Look at me."

She also declined to give her opinion of defense attorney Don West, who some have claimed was condescending toward her on the stand, citing her "Christian" upbringing.

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