George Zimmerman trial live video: Rachel Jeantel testifies on Trayvon conversation

Photo: Associated Press

A key witness took the stand Wednesday in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Rachel Jeantel says she was on the phone with her friend, Trayvon Martin, moments before he died.

“He told me the man started following him,” she said, referring to Zimmerman.

Jeantel claims 17-year-old Martin was walking from a convenience store back to his father’s fiancee’s home in Sanford, Florida. She says she listened to Martin try to avoid Zimmerman as their confrontation began.

“He said 'Why are you following me?' I heard a hard-breathing man say, ‘What are you doing around here,’ she testified.

Jeantel says she asked repeatedly what was going on, and then she heard Martin saying 'Get off! Get off!' before the phone hung up.

What happened shortly afterward was captured in the emotional 911 call made by a resident who lived nearby. She reported that Martin was lying dead on the ground.

That woman, Jayne Surdyka, also testified today about the screams for help she says she heard before Zimmerman pulled the trigger. She claims that she believes it was the younger boy’s voice screaming for help, though her assessment has been called into question by the defense.

In court, the judge allowed the prosecution to play five of the phone calls Zimmerman made to police dispatchers in the months before Martin was killed.