It has been a year since a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — and now, trial witness Rachel Jeantel says she feels she is partly responsible for Zimmerman’s acquittal.
In an interview with CNN, Jeantel was asked if she blamed herself for Zimmerman’s release: “A little,” she said, going on to answer another question admitting that she wished she had acted differently while on the stand.
Jeantel testified before the jury — and all of America — as she rehashed the phone conversation she had with Martin minutes before he was shot. She was the only person Martin spoke with when he first encountered Zimmerman and the last person he spoke with before his death.
During her two-day testimony, Jeantel received harsh widespread criticism from trial members, and viewers at home, who judged her based on appearance and speech — which she says, resulted in the jurors not taking her seriously.
However, observers were unaware at the time that Jeantel’s reading level was comparable to that of a third grade student.
Since the trial, Jeantel has been committed to making the best of her future. TheGrio teamed up with Ebony in November to give Jeantel a brand new makeover while radio host Tom Joyner offered to cover the costs for valuable tutoring and mentoring sessions.
Jeantel graduated from high school this spring — and in doing so, kept the promise she made to Martin.
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works.