Rachel Jeantel
CNN Screenshot

Nearly a year after Rachel Jeantel testified at George Zimmerman’s trial in the death of her friend, Trayvon Martin, she told CNN that she wishes she had acted differently on the witness stand.

She made the statement in response to a question about whether she blamed herself for Zimmerman’s acquittal.

“A little bit,” she answered. Then when asked if she should have said something different or acted differently on the witness stand, she said, “Act different.”

But the not guilty verdict was not her fault alone. She said the jurors didn’t take her seriously as a witness because they judged her looks and speech.


Indeed, Jeantel’s combative responses and recalcitrant repose under questioning by the defense drew widespread criticism from some observers. But a little known fact at the time was that her reading level was not above that of a third grader. Since then, however, she has turned her life around. She went through an intensive tutoring program and graduating from high school this spring.

Now she says the trial helped turn her life around, allowing her to keep her pledge to Trayvon Martin to finish school.

But one thing has not changed and that is her opinion about Zimmerman.

“He did wrong, and he’s got to man up to it,” she told CNN. “To me, you’re not a man, George Zimmerman’s not a man. That’s still a little boy, with a grown body.”