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'Boy's voice' called for help, testifies eyewitness in Trayvon Martin case (+video)

Three witnesses in the Trayvon Martin shooting offered testimony Wednesday that appears to contradict defendant George Zimmerman's account of events. Two said they believed a boy's voice was the one yelling for help.

By Staff writer / June 26, 2013

Witness Rachel Jeantel gives her testimony to the prosecution during George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida, June 26.

Jacob Langston/Reuters

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Sanford, Fla.

In arguably the boldest testimony yet in the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, three witnesses – including a friend who was talking to Trayvon on the phone – on Wednesday described a scene in which they believe a boy was yelling for help while being attacked by a larger and “dominant” man.

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On day 3 of the George Zimmerman trial witnesses take the stand and the story of Trayvon Martin unfolds.

Rachel Jeantel, 19, cried on the stand as she described Trayvon saying on the phone that he was being followed by a “creepy ass cracker” and then, a bit later, overheard him saying, “Why are you following me for?" “Then I heard a hard-breathing man say, 'What are you doing around here?' ” Ms. Jeantel testified. After hearing a “bump,” she said she heard Trayvon say, "Get off, get off,” before the phone disconnected.

Two eyewitnesses, meanwhile, said they thought Trayvon cried out for help during a struggle on the sidewalk.

“I felt like it was the boy’s voice,” Jayne Surdyka told jurors about the deadly scene that unfolded on a rainy February night last year in her Sanford, Fla., neighborhood.

If true, those statements appear to contradict Mr. Zimmerman’s story, which is that an unarmed young black man, whom the world came to know as Trayvon Martin, attacked him, broke his nose, bashed his head, tussled for his gun – all before Zimmerman found his 9mm pistol and fired once, killing Trayvon almost instantly.

Police in Sanford, Fla., let Zimmerman go without charges, saying his claims of self-defense could not be countered. Zimmerman was indicted 44 days later by a special state prosecutor, whose assistants are now in the unusual position of proving that local police made the wrong call given the evidence at the scene. Zimmerman faces a second-degree murder charge for pursuing and confronting an unarmed teenager, who then ended up dead. He faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in state prison.

The case has divided America along racial and cultural lines. Many Americans believe Zimmerman acted in the role of a criminal vigilante by pursuing an innocent young black teenager without any evidence he’d done anything wrong, and against the advice of a nonemergency police dispatcher.

Others point to evidence – including photos of Zimmerman with a broken nose and cuts on the back of his head – that suggests that Trayvon was the aggressor. Social media postings indicating that Trayvon smoked pot and talked about guns and martial arts fighting, Zimmerman’s defenders say, raise questions about whether Trayvon in fact targeted Zimmerman and put him in a position where he had to defend himself with deadly force. “You’re going to die tonight,” Zimmerman told police Trayvon said as he was beating him up.

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