Tom Joyner Morning Show commentator Roland Martin talks with Rachel Jeantel’s attorney Rod Vereen about the 19-year-old’s crucial testimony in the George Zimmerman case, the misrepresentation of her character in the media and he reveals exclusive details about her friendship with Trayvon.
According to Vereen, Martin was one of the good guys who did not ridicule the teenager. Vereen recounted a prior interview with Jeantel where she explained their bond, “she said he was one of the few guys that never made fun of me, about the way I dressed, about the way I talked, about my hair, about my complexion… about my weight.”
Read the entire interview below to find out more details about Jeantel’s friendship with Trayvon Martin and Vereen’s opinion on how the trial has fared thus far.
ROLAND MARTIN : Tom, so many people were discussing Rachel Jeantel on social media. It was the commentary about her and unfortunately she can’t talk right now publicly because she is still under subpoena. But Rod Vereen is her attorney, and we wanted to reach out to him because there are still so many questions about, you know, her testimony, the prosecution, how she is doing, he joined us right now. Rod, good morning.
ATTORNEY ROD VEREEN: Good morning, how are you today, Roland? Good morning.
ROLAND MARTIN : Rod, let’s get right to it. One of the things that so many people are talking about, there was a lot of criticism on her testimony the first day. Was she prepared by the prosecution? Was she walked through this process at all?
ATTORNEY ROD VEREEN: Well, to answer the question, the short answer is absolutely not. And, you know, sometimes I think it was by design, and when I sit back and reflect on what took place in this case, you know, and watching Mr. De La Rionda, who is the prosecutor of the case, how he’s presented his case. I think what he wanted from Rachel actually is exactly what he got. He just wanted unrehearsed raw testimony.
People don’t know why it is I got involved in this case. About a week prior to Rachel’s testimony I was contacted by a member of the same church that she attends. Who is actually the formal law enforcement officer who had grew up with me, who contacted me and said, Rod, listen, we think that Rachel needs some to assist her because she has not been, you know, vetted, if you will, by the prosecution concerning, you know, how testify in the court, her demeanor, things of that nature. So when I got in contact with Rachel she and I sat down and I spoke with her, albeit briefly, about the testimony she had planned on giving.
Because one, I didn’t have a chance to speak with the prosecution, I didn’t know what the strategy was going to be. I didn’t know the total facts. I mean I knew very little about the Trayvon Martin prosecution as far as the number of witnesses they were going to call, the strategy they were going to use to use in front of the jury. So one of the things I did not do was, you know, sit down with her and go verbatim what she was going to testify to because Rachel had given a number of statements. Okay, and I was not privy to those statements, so I didn’t want to go in and screw things up with the prosecution so what I did …
TOM JOYNER: Well, how do you think it worked out?
ATTORNEY ROD VEREEN: Well, you know, listen, every trial, no matter, you know, what the charges are, you’re going to have good witnesses, you’re going to have bad witnesses. One of the things that I thought was good about Rachel’s testimony; it was one that was actually unrehearsed. Her emotions got to her the first day and I think that’s because of the fact that Rachel, you got to remember now, she’s a 19 year old young lady who has had no experience what so ever with the criminal justice system. All right? And she didn’t understand that there’s a different dynamic in the courtroom concerning how you’re going to be treated by one side versus the other. All right? Whatever side calls you is going to be the side that’s really going to be the nicest to you. They’re going to be, they’re going to coddle you, when you get on the stand they’re going to ask you questions that you’re familiar with what the answers are going to be.
She did not understand that there was going to be this good cop, bad cop type of personalities in that courtroom. She didn’t – and when she came in contact with Don West, even at the deposition, she didn’t understand that he was going to be jumping all over her, because her question, to me, after, when she was, when we were sitting down speaking, she says, well, my first contact with Don West he was very hostile towards me. And, you know, these aren’t the words she used, these are my words. And then she inquired, she said, well, doesn’t he want to know the truth? And I said, you know, unfortunately sometimes when we get to these cases they don’t want to know the truth. They want to know what they need to know, and what they want you to, what they can manipulate to say that’s going to help them in their case.
ROLAND MARTIN : Ron, how is she doing? How is she mentally because so many people, and unfortunately way too many African Americans were just trashing this young girl. Is she off of social media? Are people texting her? How is she doing today?
ATTORNEY ROD VEREEN: Well, she is doing just fine. And I say that with reservation. This was traumatic for her. I was listening to the radio yesterday and there was some, you know, they had a town hall meeting somewhere here in Miami. And one of the, I think they had psychiatrist, psychologist saying, oh, yeah, it is clearly obvious that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. I differ with that. I beg to differ. What she went through was traumatic, yes. You know, but she is dealing with it as best she can. She lost a good friend.