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Crime Your Rights Online

Forensic Experts Say Screams Were Not Zimmerman's 1046

Hugh Pickens writes "As the Trayvon Martin controversy splinters into a debate about self-defense, a central question remains: Who was heard crying for help on a 911 call in the moments before the teen was shot? Now the Orlando Sentinel reports that Tom Owen, a leading expert in the field of forensic voice identification sought to answer that question by analyzing the recordings. His result: It was not George Zimmerman who called for help. Owen, forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services LLC and chair emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence, used voice identification software to rule out Zimmerman. Another expert contacted by the Sentinel, utilizing different techniques, came to the same conclusion. Owen used software called Easy Voice Biometrics to compare Zimmerman's voice to the 911 call screams. 'I took all of the screams and put those together, and cut out everything else,' says Owen. The software compared that audio to Zimmerman's voice and returned a 48 percent match. Owen says to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he'd expect higher than 90 percent. Owen cannot confirm the voice as Trayvon's, because he didn't have a sample of the teen's voice to compare however 'you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman.'"
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Forensic Experts Say Screams Were Not Zimmerman's

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  • by AdmiralXyz ( 1378985 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:28PM (#39542165)
    Zimmerman's claim of being badly beaten up before he shot the kid doesn't hold up either: there's some footage taken at the police station [go.com] the night of his arrest, and he looks totally unharmed. No cuts to the back of the head, no broken nose, nothing. Guy's story has more holes than... eh, I'm on my eighteenth hour without sleep due to a project and can't come up with an apt metaphor, but something with a lot of holes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:35PM (#39542215)
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:16PM (#39542509)

    I agree, he shouldn't be facing the court of public opinion. He should be facing the court of law. It certainly doesn't look like that is happening.

    It looks increasingly likely that he will face a jury. And when he does, the jury will likely be informed of Fla. Stats. 776.041 [state.fl.us], which states:

    776.041âfUse of force by aggressor.â"The justification [of self defense] described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
    (1)âfIs attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
    (2)âfInitially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
    (a)âfSuch force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
    (b)âfIn good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

    To be brutally honest, I think both his attackers and his defenders sound very silly to me in making bold statements before the facts are in. The prudent thing to do is to simply say that we are not going to condemn him or exonerate him until the process plays out and renders a verdict.

    [ Note, I'm not saying that everyone must accept the results of the process -- just because it's the legal result doesn't mean we have to personally believe it. But there is a difference between disagreeing with the result after it happens and jumping to your own conclusion before it has been conducted. The former seems to me reasonable, the latter not so much. ]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:23PM (#39542569)

    A young man was shot and killed while bearing only a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles

    and reportedly slamming Zimmerman's head into the pavement repeatedly and telling Zimmerman "You're going to die tonight".

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:40PM (#39542699) Homepage Journal

    We have an unarmed victim, making the supposed deadly threat unlikely. That would mean Zimmerman shot him without a credible fear for his life. We have evidence that the victim was attempting to retreat (evenm though not obligated to do so) which further suggests there was no threat to Zimmerman's life. Of the two people there, one of them who was not Zimmerman was screaming for help. Again, that makes the claim that Zimmerman was reasonably fearful for his life look rather weak.

    It's not SYG at all.

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Seraphim1982 ( 813899 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:49PM (#39542767)

    From Florida Statute 776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force
    "(1) A person who uses force as permitted in 776.012 [Use of force in defense of person] is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force..."
    "(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful."

    Sure sounds like they can't be arrested to me.

  • by PyroMosh ( 287149 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:55PM (#39542815) Homepage

    I saw the ABC video and thought it seemed weird too. The lower third graphic was REALLY high, and blocked Zimmerman's head at key moments.

    Then I found the original video without the ABC lower third direct from the City of Sanford.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WWDNbQUgm4 [youtube.com]

    There's nothing to see. If ABC is "hiding" something, well, I don't see it.

    Maybe he is hurt. But you can't tell from this security camera footage. He might have cuts on his face or the back of his head. I can't tell. But I doubt his broken nose claim is true. Anything else... this video doesn't prove or disprove it.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:15PM (#39542953) Homepage Journal

    They were talkative enough about not being able to charge him due to stand your ground. That is, exactly the sort of thing a DA wouldn't say if they intended to even look into the matter.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:56PM (#39543219) Journal

    You do know that there was at least one eyewitness that corroborated that Zimmerman was on the ground being attacked and calling for help?

    You do know there are other eyewitnesses who claimed that was not the case? That's your probable cause right there.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by tragedy ( 27079 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:02PM (#39543257)

    Where is it documented that Martin was a well-built athlete? He was certainly taller than Zimmerman, but the police video seems to show that Zimmerman was in pretty good shape. He also had a work history as a bouncer at house parties (a job from which he was fired for being too aggressive).

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:08PM (#39543291) Journal

    I don't see many people here arguing that Zimmerman should be convicted. What I see is many people (myself included) arguing that the facts presented so far are clearly very murky, and that the guy should be arrested until a proper trial can be held to determine his guilt or innocence. If he's smart, too, he'll ask to waive jury trial, that way he's much more likely to get an impartial ruling under the circumstances.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:16PM (#39543347)

    You do know that Zimmerman was treated at the scene for injuries from havnig his head slammed into concrete...

    But apparently Zimmerman was not injured [time.com] as he claims. Surely you must be aware of that, which makes me think bad things about you.

  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya@gmailOOO.com minus threevowels> on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:18PM (#39543373)

    In any case, eyewtinesses said they saw Treyvon beating up Zimmerman.

    You are making shit up. Not a single article mentioned any eyewitnesses. If there had been some who could testify to that, I'd be more prone to believe the self-defense theory.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:19PM (#39543375)

    You do know there are other eyewitnesses who claimed that was not the case? That's your probable cause right there.

    Fabulous! New information! I'm for new information. Here is a link [go.com] showing the eye witness I'm referring to:

    In addition, an eyewitness, 13-year-old Austin Brown, told police he saw a man fitting Zimmerman's description lying on the grass moaning and crying for help just seconds before he heard the gunshot that killed Martin.

    And here is another report [telegraph.co.uk], which seems consistent with the above, and seems to be someone different:

    After hearing raised voice, the witness said he peered out of the window and saw two men grappling with each other on the ground, one on top of the other. He said there were two struggles, both of which were on the grass next to a sidewalk. “I heard the yell for help then I heard another as I would describe as an excruciating type of yell. It didn’t even sound like a help it just sounded so painful,” he said. Following the cry, he described hearing “popping” sounds, believed to be multiple gunshots. One of the men then cried out for help.

    And of course Zimmerman was treated on the scene [legalinsurrection.com] for head injuries, which is again consistent with the other reports.

    As it was, the police took Zimmerman in for questioning in handcuffs, and released him. They know where he lives.

    Do you have a link for me?

  • by bieber ( 998013 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:22PM (#39543405)
    Have you read anything about the case?

    Being on the phone does not magically make one safe.

    No, but being on the phone in a vehicle, someone who neither knows nor cares that you exist is not a threat.

    Did Zimmernan at the time?

    Yes, he was carrying a gun; what do you think he shot Trayvon with? He chose to leave the safety of his vehicle to pursue an unarmed teenager while carrying. He then provoked a confrontation by, you know, chasing down an unarmed kid. None of these facts are challenged by Zimmerman or the police. At this point, whether Trayvon threw the first punch isn't terribly important. He had every right to feel threatened if Zimmerman was pursuing him, especially if he noticed the gun, and to defend himself from that threat. You can't just provoke a fight and then invoke self-defense when the person defending themselves from you gets the upper hand.

  • by SockPuppetOfTheWeek ( 1910282 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:40PM (#39543539) Journal

    When the police asked him to not follow the person, they asked out of an interest for his safety, not because it was illegal for him to do so.

    This, so much that it bears repeating: When the police asked him to not follow the person, they asked out of an interest for his safety, not because it was illegal for him to do so.

    Most likely what happened is, this poor kid got scared and tried to defend himself and then the guy got scared and tried to defend himself. Since only one of them was carrying a gun and trigger happy, we all know how that worked out.

    The problem was that, while Zimmerman's idea of "got scared" was to dial 911 and follow at a safe distance, the kid's idea of "got scared" was call your girlfriend and then give this white dude a beat-down to teach him a lesson. We all know how that worked out.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mohhomad ( 638585 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:42PM (#39543551)
    Except he wouldn't have broken the law if he believed he was protecting himself. The beauty of the Florida stand your ground law is that it's so broad that had Martin killed Zimmerman he could have plead self defense. Except for the fact that he was black and not the son of a judge. Florida's stand your ground law protects the instigator. That's the point of stand your ground laws. Prior to SYG the standard was that you had to try and avoid or escape situations that require deadly force. Florida's statue is so broad that believing you are preventing a felony is a good enough reason to shoot to kill.
  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by rochrist ( 844809 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:50PM (#39543617)
    So he had his head pounded into the pavement, his nose broken, and he shows up at the police station less than a half an hour later without a drop of blood on him or his clothes or so much as a bandaid. Not trip to the EF for an x-ray or an MRI.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:10PM (#39543763)

    Hmm... "my fox tampa bay" and "bob owens"... two totally trustworthy news sites there. good job.

    When NBC News played the audio of the 911 call George Zimmerman made prior to the confrontation that resulted in the death Travyon Martin, this is what they played:

            Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black.

    That audio helped fan the nation-wide flames of hysteria over the supposed fact that the police had released an obvious racist who had tracked and killed Martin out of racist motives. Many Republicans, such as Jeb Bush, the highly regarded former governor of Florida, and many "conservatives," such as Rich Lowry, the editor of America's flagship "conservative" magazine, believed it.

    But the audio played by NBC, though it seemed like "fact" (because it was an audio, and isn't audio true?) was false.

    Here is the transcript of the actual audio of the 911 call:

            Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

            Dispatcher: OK, and this guy--is he black, white or Hispanic?

            Zimmerman: He looks black.

    That is the slipshod hoodwinking professional reporting we need then?

  • by Zironic ( 1112127 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:32PM (#39543933)

    160 lbs of pure muscle is almost no muscle at all if you're 6'3. 160/6'3 is BMI 20, that's a few points short of sickly underweight.

  • Well cynical dicks that have contempt for jury duty don't typically get selected. Both juries I've been on (a DUI and a murder) were full of reasonably intelligent and rational people who took the case and their responsibilities as citizens very seriously. It was actually pretty reassuring.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by shiftless ( 410350 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @07:45PM (#39544411) Homepage

    So, you are claiming that the police report [sanfordfl.gov] - made before this became a controversial case - is false?

    Are you claiming it's not?

    Watch the fucking video [youtube.com] and decide for yourself if this dude looks like hes just had his head smashed and beaten into pavement.

  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by JosephTX ( 2521572 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @08:01PM (#39544549)

    Trayvon Martin DIDN'T start the fight. In case you haven't been keeping up, he was killed because Zimmerman IGNORED THE POLICE and started following and harassing a random kid.

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday April 01, 2012 @08:14PM (#39544649)

    Well, Fox did go to court to defend the right to lie in "news" stories. Take anything you read or hear from Fox with a *massive* grain of salt.

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @08:47PM (#39544881)

    Are you claiming it's not?

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. You are effectively claiming that the police looked into the future and made false statements on the report for a crime that wasn't controversial at the time, or that they doctored or replace an existing report. Evidence? Did they convince the Fire Department members to lie? You are the one making the claim - provide some evidence.

    Watch the fucking video [youtube.com] and decide for yourself if this dude looks like hes just had his head smashed and beaten into pavement.

    It is already noted in the police report that he was injured, but maybe this will help: Police surveillance video of Zimmerman may show head injury [dailycaller.com]

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Galactic Dominator ( 944134 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @11:24PM (#39545675)

    Actually if you dig a little deeper, you'll find some information coming from the 13-year-olds mother which is quite interesting, and brings into question even more of the level of police work done eg leading questions, badgering, etc.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-george-zimmerman-killing-trayvon-martin-grainy-proves-lawyer-article-1.1052713 [nydailynews.com]

  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @09:25AM (#39547981) Journal

    If by "feeling threatened", you mean getting your skull bashed against a sidewalk, then yes, it means it OK to kill the person doing the bashing.

    Actually it does not mean it is OK to kill the person doing the bashing. In California as well as Florida, if you START the confrontation you have no right to claim self defense.

  • by Lillesvin ( 797939 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @09:42AM (#39548137) Homepage

    I'm not familiar with this particular piece of software, but I am however very familiar with the subject of forensic phonetics. The usual MO isn't like that of Hollywood, where the software does it all for you and simply gives you a percentage chance that it's X. (Judging from the website of Easy Voice Biometrics, however, it seems that that is what they're going for, which is an incredibly bad idea.) Usually the forensic phonetician will use software like Praat [praat.org] for working with the speech samples, but all conclusions will be his/her own.

    Oh, and I really have a problem with the word Biometrics in the name of the software, because the human voice isn't very dependent on biometric factors --- it is extremely easy to manipulate. I can't imagine any program being capable of reliably identifying and eliminating voice disguises as they claim EVB does. (Source: Working on my MA thesis in forensic phonetics.)

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson