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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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  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:33PM (#39542201)

    At least he's done more then the police have done in this case.

  • Re:April Fools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:33PM (#39542203)
    Really? Slashdot has frequent coverage of human rights, crime, law enforcement. Technology alone isn't the only subject Slashdot readers are interested in. It just so happens that technology and forensics do play a role in this story. However even if they didn't, this is a huge story, and well worth covering on Slashdot.
  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:39PM (#39542255) Homepage

    While I'm personally of the opinion that Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter, I've also seen too many cases of "forensic science" of dubious validity being allowed in trials (for example Steven Hayne in Mississippi help convict dozens of people on the base of 'bite mark identification' techniques that are widely considered fraudulent). Can anyone point to any independent blind trials to demonstrate 1) that the metrics used by this program actually are invariant for a particular individual and 2) are sufficiently unique that they can be used to reliably distinguish two individuals?

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <> on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:40PM (#39542261)

    I'm more concerned that someone under the presumption of innocence is instead being tried in the court of public opinion, which obeys no law and follows no procedure. Regardless of the facts of the matter, I would almost rather have my day in court and be acquitted than have my life torn to pieces in a three-ring media circus.

  • by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:43PM (#39542271)

    ... and George just shot him in "self defense"?
    Sounds like cold blooded murder, not self defense.
    Who is shooting an armless scared teen?

  • Re:Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by busyqth ( 2566075 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:44PM (#39542281)

    all the actual techies have left and been replaced with libertarian trolls.

    Huh? I remember way back when quoting Ayn Rand on Slashdot was a sure ticket to +5 Insightful. And you say that Slashdot is infested with libertarian trolls now?

  • by busyqth ( 2566075 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:46PM (#39542287)
    Hmm... "my fox tampa bay" and "bob owens"... two totally trustworthy news sites there. good job.
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:47PM (#39542291)

    If only the guy who shot another person without witnesses would have been actually *investigated*, instead of letting him walk entirely on his own testimony...

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cwix ( 1671282 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:52PM (#39542333)

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:52PM (#39542335)

    I'd be very, very leery of trying to do any sort of "voice print analysis" on the basis of recorded cellphone audio. There's a lot of coding artifacts. After all, the goal is to allow people to communicate, not to convey voice identity.

    You can run voice through a fairly low bit rate LPC coder and it's quite intelligible on the other end, and actually "sounds" like the speaker, but if you look at the spectrogram, it's totally different. Your ear hears the dominant formants in the vowels, and you recognize speakers by that. LPC basically encodes the vocal tract as a 8-10 term filter plus a buzz excitation source. "voice print id" depends more on fine structure, which is lost in the encoding/decoding. It would be like trying to identify a paper document that was watermarked by looking at a photocopy. The watermark may or may not come through, but the intelligibility of the document is the same either way.

  • by gstrickler ( 920733 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:53PM (#39542345)

    Yes, but there are so many holes in his story that it's beyond belief. There is no question of who shot Trayvon, Zimmerman has admitted that. He's claiming self-defense, and his story doesn't hold up to any scrutiny. He should be (should have already been) arrested and charged, and let the legal system handle it, not the media and public outcry. If they don't have enough evidence, then the grand jury can refuse to indict. If they do, then he goes to trial or makes a plea.

  • by meosborne ( 8640 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:54PM (#39542351)

    It's not a question of guilt or innocence, Zimmerman is guilty of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. That is not in question at all. The question is whether he was legally justified in doing so. Unfortunately, one side of the story (Trayvon) has been removed and cannot be heard.

    A human being *died*. A young man was shot and killed while bearing only a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles. An investigation of more than simply accepting the word of the shooter is definitely warranted.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:57PM (#39542367)
    "Trial by social media". "Trial by the self-righteous" Glad we have court systems to sort out all these rumors.
  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:58PM (#39542375)

    The District Attorney has an obligation to not bring cases he can't win. It took 1.5 years to arrest Michael Jackson's doctor, let investigators do their job.

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:03PM (#39542411) Homepage Journal

    The fact that the DA's office is standing on a ludicrous interpretation of the stand your ground law as an excuse to not press charges even though the well established facts of the case practically demand a trial.

    Just to add insult, a bunch of people actually believe the crap excuse and so are campaigning to repeal stand your ground rather than finding out why the DA hates black people (or loves Zimmerman).

  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) < minus threevowels> on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:06PM (#39542435)
    Even if Zimmerman was the one screaming
    He followed and confronted someone for no good reason, even after having been explicitly told (by 911 operator) to stay away
    Even if Zimmeriman screamed through the whole process, the killing of Trayvon is not justified.
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swalve ( 1980968 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:09PM (#39542451)
    The worst part about this is that the DA office doesn't seem to understand that "Stand Your Ground" is just an affirmative defense against a crime, not a magic spell that means someone can't be arrested.
  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheRealGrogan ( 1660825 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:09PM (#39542463)

    Except that there are some facts here.

    1) "Neighbourhood watch" personnel know that they are not supposed to be armed
    2) They are warned not to engage, lest they risk legal repercussions. They are to call the police.
    3) Zimmerman was specifically told to stand down in this case by a police dispatcher.

    That's the only "opinion" I need to have. Zimmerman needs to be charged, just like he would be if he shot some rich white kid.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Troyusrex ( 2446430 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:21PM (#39542549)
    There aren't "well established facts" in this case. At least not that are known to the general public. Cases tried in the media tend to be enormously biased because they are about generating interest not about reliable evidence. For instance, was Zimmerman's nose broken and the back of his head injured or not? We don't know but such evidence would obviously make a big difference in the case.
  • by Kneo24 ( 688412 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:23PM (#39542573)
    A thousand times this. You can't claim self defense when you purposely stalk someone and then confront them out in public. You are purposely potentially putting yourself in harms way. I wish more people would understand this.
  • by TheRealGrogan ( 1660825 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:25PM (#39542589)

    It doesn't even matter if he was beaten... he should be.. We don't have to recognize the authority of Neighbourhood Watch snitches. If they think there is an issue, they are to call the police. That's it. If they engage, WE have the right to self defense. They don't have police powers and if they attempt to bar my egress I won't hesitate to use as much force as necessary.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:26PM (#39542595)
    I agree.

    Is it self defence if I am breaking into someone's else home, they grab a knife and "attack" me and I shoot them as I fear for my life?
    Clearly no. The homeowner has the right to defend themselves from the instigator.

    Is it self defence if I stalk someone walking down the road and they "attack" me and I shoot them as I fear for my life?
    Or let's ask it backwards.
    If I am walking down the street minding my own business and I am followed and stalked by another are they allowed to kill me when I defend myself?
    EVEN if Zimmerman found himself defending himself he should still be investigated as evidence indicates that he is defending himself from an event he initiated.

    Trayvon, per mobile conversation with his girlfriend:

    ""He says: 'Oh, he's right behind me. He's right behind me again,'" Crump said the girl told him. "She says: 'Run.' He says: 'I'm not going to run, I'm just going to walk fast.'

    She then heard Martin saying "Why are you following me""

    Florida stalking law arguably shows that Trayvon was being stalked. Easily as arguable as the "stand your ground" arguement. And that would mean that he was killed by someone in the commision of a crime.


    Section 784.048. STALKING; DEFINITIONS; PENALTIES. 1997.

    (1) As used in this section, the term:

    (a) "Harass" means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.

    (b) "Course of conduct" means a pattern a conduct composed of series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct." Such constitutionally protected activity includes picketing or other organized protests.

    (c) "Credible threat" means a threat made with the intent to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety. The threat must be against the life of, or a threat to cause bodily injury to, a person."
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:29PM (#39542619) Homepage Journal

    That's exactly it. We know for a fact that he began from a position of safety (since he was on the phone w/ 911). Stand your ground does not mean charge into danger. We know the victim had no weapon. That makes the threat to life or grievous bodily harm seem unlikely. It really does seem like more than enough to justify deeper investigation, but instead the DA has already delivered a poor excuse for no charges which generally indicates there will be none..

  • by Xenkar ( 580240 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:30PM (#39542621)

    Any healthy human can kill with their bare hands. You don't need martial art training. You just need enough anger to dehumanize your target and start beating the shit out of him.

    Unfortunately with every blow, you dehumanize yourself in the eyes of your victim, making it that much more likely that they'll respond to your force.

    Our legal system is set up that police can only hold you for 48 hours before they either release you or charge you with a crime. The case has to be solid, as in will 12 people who were unable to get out of jury duty, believe in the prosecutors' version of events or else the defendant will go free. If the defendant gets a not-guilty verdict, he is protected by double jeopardy, which prevents the government from taking him back to court on the same charges.

    So by demanding "Justice for Trayvon now, only skittles and iced tea", they are preventing investigators from making a solid case against Zimmerman. They are tainting the jury pool so much that they'll have to ship Amish people from Pennsylvania and Ohio to serve on the jury.

    Will that give Trayvon any justice? Is this really about justice at all? Zimmerman is going to be looking over his shoulders for the rest of his life whether he gets charged or not. He has been convicted in the court of liberal public opinion.

  • by Paracelcus ( 151056 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:38PM (#39542681) Journal

    If a cop murders a kid (unarmed, in the back, running away, etc) everybody says
    A He/She feared for their lives/safety
    B He/She was only doing their job
    C They were resisting
    D Oops!

    And the cop get's a few days off with pay!

    It's a good thing that this retard Zimmerman isn't a cop, maybe he'll get prosecuted!

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:40PM (#39542695)

    d 2) are sufficiently unique that they can be used to reliably distinguish two individuals?

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer:
    Consider this: There are any number of comedians that are capable of mimicking the vocal characteristics of famous people to the point that unless you are directly observing the person, you would have no way of saying that say, Bill Clinton, wasn't standing in front of you. Consider as well the wide dynamic range of the human voice -- From Opera to pop music singer, we have the ability to make a stunningly wide range of sounds; and reliably reproduce them. Now consider that this recording was taken of a telephone call. First, telephone calls are stripped of most frequencies to focus only on those used during normal conversation. Some women are nearly unintelligible on a phone without deepening their voice because their natural range falls outside what the phone will transmit. Now consider that this signal was further degraded because it was a cell phone: Which use very small and notoriously distortion-prone microphones to capture audio. Now I'll throw in my personal and subjective experience here; I've worked in a call center and have done QA on a number of calls as well as taken a number myself; I would say roughly 15% of women can be misidentified as men, and vice versa. That is how much of the signal is lost or distorted. When people can't even positively identify the gender of a caller to better than 85%, well... food for thought.

    The idea of differentiating from two people with similar vocal characteristics over the phone is patently absurd. It may be sufficient to identify a person from, say, 30 other people that can be identified using, say, a security camera... but it is nowhere near as forensically sound as fingerprints. That is to say, by itself, it's worthless -- I wouldn't count on it to establish more than reasonable suspicion, let alone beyond reasonable doubt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:44PM (#39542729)

    >He followed and confronted someone for no good reason, even after having been explicitly told (by 911 operator) to stay away

    Will you people please stop with this? If a cop tells you to stop taking pictures in a public area, everyone on /. gets up in arms.

    A 911 dispatcher is NOT a cop and has NO authority. Being told to leave the kid alone by the 911 operator means nothing in any legal sense.

    Statements like these make me hate the hypocrisy of /.ers, and you're not the only here who has made it.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:44PM (#39542733) Homepage Journal

    The presumption of innocence under U.S. law is pretty limited. All it means is that the prosecution has the burden of proof in order to convict you.

    For example, if you can't pay bail, there's no presumption of innocence. The judge can keep you in jail even though you've never been convicted of anything.

    The issue here is that the cops weren't seriously investigating Zimmerman, and that they've failed to prosecute people in the past who killed black victims.

    It didn't look like Zimmerman and his accusers would ever have their day in court -- until they went to the media. That's an appropriate role of the media.

    BTW there's nothing about "presumption of innocence in the Constitution.

  • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:45PM (#39542737)

    'there are certain characteristics introduced by the physics of your vocal cords, throat, mouth, and nasal passages that are pretty consistent and identifiable'

    Yeah, but you have no way of knowing this software uses those.

    We actually come back to an RMS argument. This software is a black box. How do you know what it is measuring?

  • by N0Man74 ( 1620447 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:49PM (#39542769)

    I agree... I don't doubt that there was a physical confrontation that escalated into a shooting. There seems to be evidence to support that part of the story. The identity of the screamer is a bit of a moot point, considering that there wouldn't have been a confrontation in the first place if the over-zealous, paranoid, and armed Zimmerman had not pursued the kid and created the confrontation (against the instructions given to him by the 9-1-1 dispatcher).

    I do wonder how this story would have turned out if Zimmerman had been the one killed in this. Would it have been dismissed as self-defense under the Stand Your Ground law (since Zimmerman was pursuing him in a way that could easily be perceived as threatening), or would he have been arrested at the scene? If he had been arrested, would there have been a public outcry? What if he had been released?

  • by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:54PM (#39542805) Homepage

    I wasn't there, so I have no real opinion on the whole thing other than to say, "I do hope they figure out what really happened so we can put it all to rest." There are important, unanswered questions about what happened and both theories seem entirely plausible to me.

    I know many have already decided what happened, even if they don't actually know. But personally, I'm uncomfortable having any opinion until there's more credible, useful information. The police station's camera really doesn't tell us much (both sides are claiming it as evidence) and the eyewitness reports are... meh.

    But this situation aside, the neighborhood watch thing is a minefield. I'm all for people taking responsibility for their neighborhood. Cops can't be everywhere, all the time, and they often encourage the neighborhood watch groups. But all that stops short of harassing innocent people or going looking for confrontations when there don't need to be any.

    For anything outside your home that doesn't involve violence in progress, your weapon is your damn cellphone. Heading up the street to investigate some random pedestrian, armed, is (I think obviously) just dangerous and irresponsible.

    But that doesn't mean this guy is a murderer, either. So we'll see.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:59PM (#39542833)

    The kid had no weapons; kid could have called him names and given him the finger and STILL no way that guy should get away with shooting him. Hell, even if the kid was throwing rocks it still requires prosecution for killing the kid; unless it is clear cut extreme self defense it always needs to be prosecuted just to get a half decent investigation.

    Hell, in self defense there should still be sentence handed out. If it saved your life then a year in jail is worth it - but to let somebody totally off because they were afraid or felt their life threatened in some way... that is going too far. Somehow in this country we don't approach any of these topics intelligently. Somebody in a bar fight accidentally punches in just the right place and kills somebody ends up serving some time but if you use a gun and say you were afraid of bodily harm then its ok...

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:00PM (#39542839) Homepage

    "...unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful"

    Probable cause is the standard for making an arrest in any case. Police routinely cite it with weaker justification than in this case, one which offers ample basis for a probable-cause arrest. Y'know... if they wanted to.

  • by modmans2ndcoming ( 929661 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:02PM (#39542853)

    as reported by zimmerman.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misexistentialist ( 1537887 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:04PM (#39542871)
    None of those three items are laws, the breaking of which would be chargeable offenses. Carrying the gun was legal, as was observing someone in public (or a private neighborhood which Zimmerman was responsible for securing). If Martin attacked him, he was the first and only person who broke a law.
  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:06PM (#39542887)

    If only the court system was being used.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:09PM (#39542917)

    The revelation that pounding the human head against concrete can kill is fairly noteworthy . . . . and news to you?

  • by buybuydandavis ( 644487 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:33PM (#39543093)

    Nice to see someone actually talking about the content of the article, instead of arguing about their conflicting certainties over fact.

    But I disagree with your conclusions. Yes, theoretically you can do speaker identification. It is a very hard problem, however. In this case, we're talking about someone screaming in the distance in the background of a telephone call. Unless he did a lot of training with screamed samples, we should be skeptical of his results in conditions off his training set.

    In particular, since there are really only two possible speakers, I'd at least wait until the same analysis is performed on the young man and the resulting match rate compared before jumping to conclusions. The fact that he didn't do that makes me think this is a guy with a company looking for some publicity, and not someone diligently trying to find the truth.

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tragedy ( 27079 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:52PM (#39543201)

    Yes, I'm sure there are. But are there laws that stop the police from arresting you just because you hunted someone down and then shot them after you caught up with them?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:56PM (#39543217)

    Being on the phone does not magically make one safe.

    Being in a motor vehicle while the other person is an unarmed pedestrian, on the other hand, is a very good way to be safe. Hint: Zimmerman was in a motor vehicle when he made his 911 call. He was safe. He chose to leave that safety, he chose to start a potentially violent confrontation, he lost any right to claim self defence.

    Did Zimmernan at the time?

    I doubt he'd have gone and forced a confrontation like he did if he thought the other guy was carrying a gun.

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

    If that happened, it happened after Zimmerman stalked him in his vehicle, in direct disobedience to the 911 operator who told him not to follow Martin; then he stopped, then he got out of his vehicle, then he initiated a confrontation with Martin.

    Whatever happened, Zimmerman started it.

    Whatever happened, Martin did not provoke it.

    Whatever happened, it would not have happened if Zimmerman had not decided to make something happen.

    If you start a fight unprovoked, and the fight ends with the person you attacked lying dead on the ground, you do not get to claim self defence. You get to defend yourself against a charge of premeditated murder. In a civilized country, that is.

    Treyvon was a young 6' 3" muscular basketball player. Zimmerman is 5'9", 250lbs, so unlikely to be able to run away.

    So why the hell did he pick a fight, then? If he thought Martin was threatening, all he had to do is stay in his fucking vehicle and let the fucking police handle the situation. I'm pretty sure even a 6'3" muscular basketball player could not chase down a fucking vehicle.

    If I was getting beat up by someone who could run me down if I tried to run away, and I had a gun, I would shoot.

    And if I was stalked and then confronted by someone who could shoot me dead if I tried to run away, and I was bigger and stronger than them, I would try to beat them up.

    One of the two people involved was "standing their ground", trying desperately to defend themselves against a violent criminal who was threatening them with deadly harm. And that person was not Zimmerman.

  • by TheRealGrogan ( 1660825 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:58PM (#39543231)

    I'm a thug for not submitting to some self appointed vigilante's authority? You Americans and your circular logic.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:59PM (#39543239) Journal

    (Please note that I am prefacing these statements with 'if' since we do not know for certain. I am merely presenting a case where SYG could legitimately be used and argued for)

    That's precisely the point - we don't know for certain. Evidence is seemingly contradictory, and witnesses are claiming different things. At this point, a proper trial is needed to decide on the facts of the case, and Zimmerman can then claim SYG as an affirmative defense during that trial and walk free, if the facts do indeed support his case.

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:01PM (#39543249) Journal

    I also believe that local officials actually tried to present this case to a prosecutor and was denied due to lack of evidence.

    A dead body is "lack of evidence"?

    Coupled with contradictory claims by eyewitnesses, I don't see how it's not sufficient grounds for further investigation.

  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:03PM (#39543261) Homepage

    The kid had no weapons; kid could have called him names and given him the finger and STILL no way that guy should get away with shooting him.

    Agreed, the question is who started the fight? I suspect Zimmerman started it, but the fact is we don't know since no one saw the start of the fight, and in the absence of proof, we have to assume the facts that favor the defendant (i.e. we have to assume Martin started the fight, it's the prosecution's burden to prove otherwise).

    Hell, in self defense there should still be sentence handed out. If it saved your life then a year in jail is worth it - but to let somebody totally off because they were afraid or felt their life threatened in some way... that is going too far.

    So if someone is trying to beat you to death, you feel you have a legal obligation to lie their and let them and hope they get tired of beating you before you die? The problem isn't the idea of self defenes, it's whether or not Zimmerman was actually defending himself. As I said, I suspect what really happened is he started a fight and then wanted to pull a gun when he realized he was losing. Which isn't legal self defense, even in Florida.

    The problem is proving that, particularly when the police appear to have tanked the investigation.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikelieman ( 35628 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:05PM (#39543265) Homepage

    Not really. There's 2 essential elements to charging manslaughter in Florida, and Zimmerman meets them.

    They are, (1) Trayvon Martin is dead and (2) George Zimmerman killed him.

    I don't give a shit about anything else. Zimmerman can tell his story to a Judge, and if the Judge buys his motion to dismiss, then so be it.

  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KhazadDum ( 790345 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:06PM (#39543277)

    No. The evidence we have shows that Martin was being followed by Zimmerman for the purposes of surveillance (911 call about a suspicious person by Zimmerman), not that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin with a weapon drawn or the threat of violence.

    Right there you see Zimmerman following Martin. Another word would be stalking. The 9-11 operator told him not to engage. Any currently tested law applies only if the victim attempted to retreat and was otherwise forced into a confrontation where they had to protect their life.

    Voluntarily stalking someone who probably knows you are stalking them is not what comes to mind for 'justifiable homicide'. But hey, anything to feed your fantasy of being neighborhood policeman instead of leaving it up to the police, eh?

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:07PM (#39543281)

    What makes you think the police haven't already done this and found the results inconclusive.

    You tards are so ready to believe.

    I agree with you about too many -tards being willing to believe. Someone is trying to start a race war in this country and I'd sure like to know why.

    I feel that the proper question should have started out with: Whose cellphone was the call made on? I doubt that they traded cellphones and the person making the call was probably the person screaming for help.

  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) < minus threevowels> on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:10PM (#39543313)

    While it would be interesting to hear what the EMTs saw, if they say he appeared to have been beaten you won't believe them.

    I would totally believe the EMTs if they testified to that under oath in court. Of course I wouldn't really believe Zimmerman's claims, since he obviously has a bit of a bias
    Problem is, he's not had to defend himself in court, to bring all that exonerating evidence. Police just took his word for it.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SockPuppetOfTheWeek ( 1910282 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:21PM (#39543395) Journal

    You know what? I'm not playing this game.

    There is no such thing as "injuries severe enough to justify lethal force". If someone has reasonable cause to fear for their safety, if you injure them at all, they are justified in using any and all available force to stop you from injuring them further. Period.

    Don't like it? Don't start fights you can't win. And since concealed carry is legal (and Zimmerman had a CCW permit, by the way), you have no way of knowing whether someone has a concealed weapon. So, the moral of the story: don't start fights.

  • by gstrickler ( 920733 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:22PM (#39543409)

    Exactly. Zimmerman followed Trayvon despite being told not to, got out of his car, armed with a gun and started a confrontation, then shot Trayvon, that's not self-defense, and it's not covered under Florida's "Stand your ground" statute as far as I can tell. It needs to be put before a jury to determine if he's guilty, so he definitely needs to be arrested and charged and let the legal system work it out.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:25PM (#39543427) Journal

    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. []

    Do you have a link for me? [] []

    Like I said, the witness story is inconsistent; the problem is that either side cherry picks the lines that support their case. Which, to me, is a clear indication that this should go to trial, where they can properly examine the evidence, question the witnesses etc

  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:31PM (#39543477) Journal

    I've tried to stick to the indisputable facts in forming my opinion on this case (of which there are few), but regardless of the legal outcome, it seems clear to me that Trayvon Martin did not need to die that night, and that his death was the result of George Zimmerman patrolling the neighborhood with a firearm and choosing to follow Martin.

    Had Zimmerman not been patrolling, or had he been patrolling without a firearm, or had he been patrolling with a firearm but taken the 911 operator's suggestion and not followed Martin, Martin would not be dead.

    Even if Zimmerman's actions were legally justified, it doesn't mean they were right or intelligent. I was assaulted in downtown Washington, DC in the middle of the day. I could have escalated the situation and probably have been legally justified in doing so, but for all I know I might have gotten myself stabbed or run down by the car the asshole was driving. And for what? And here, Martin is dead--for what?

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:37PM (#39543529)
    No, a trial may not be needed to decide the facts of the case. If the DA does not have sufficient evidence to believe he/she can obtain a conviction, it is a waste of taxpayer resources to bring the case to trial. The information currently available suggests that the DA so believes. We do not have the ability to analyze the evidence well enough to determine whether or not a trial is called for. However, considering the conflicting evidence that is available to us, it seems likely that the DA would be unable to prove criminal behavior on Zimmerman's part.
  • by Kielistic ( 1273232 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:42PM (#39543553)
    How is this marked troll? Zimmerman's whole case seems to ride on him "feeling threatened" which apparently makes it okay to murder people in Florida. I don't know about all of you but if I was a black youth in Florida and some creepy white guy was following me around in a van I would sure as hell feel threatened. The kid had way more right (and evidently the need) to defend himself than Zimmerman ever did. Zimmerman could have walked away at any time (and was told to leave the kid alone by police dispatch).

    If Zimmerman gets off on this it means in Florida you can murder anyone you want. You just have to follow them around and goad them into trying to defend themselves then shoot them dead. I don't see how this is anything but a hate crime.
  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:43PM (#39543557)

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

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

    "While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground. Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head. . . .

    Zimmerman was placed in the rear of my police vehicle and was given first aid by the SFD.

    Do you have any evidence that the police falsified their report? If you don't, do you think I should think and feel like someone I can quote: "Surely you must be aware of that, which makes me think bad things about you" ?

    Inconvenient narratives in the Martin case []

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:55PM (#39543653)

    So according to you, there is a law that states that you are only allowed to defend yourself if your injuries warrant being taken to the ER? I would love to see a link for that! The fact that he has ANY injury means that his story adds up.

  • by frank249 ( 100528 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:58PM (#39543677)

    If the EMTs treated Zimmerman, then they would have put a dressing over any break in the skin to prevent infection. The back of his head does not even have a band aid on it. If he had a broken nose there would have been blood on his shirt and jacket and you would likely see nose plugs to stop the bleeding. There also would have been swelling. No evidence of this either.

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:02PM (#39543701) Homepage Journal

    There's so many opinions flying around here about this, yet I honestly can't pass judgment on any of this information.
    All I do know is that the existing evidence is more than sufficient to merit formal charges and an arrest warrant.

    If the DA has not put in for a warrant for Zimmerman as a suspect for murder by end of business on Monday, then I think the DOJ should pursue a more vigorous investigation into racism and misconduct within the DA's office and the Police Department.

    Frankly, Zimmerman's story has stunk from the get go, the actions of the police have stunk and the more information comes out, the more the entire thing stinks. If we don't see the DA take swift and immediate action on Monday, we'll know where their motives truly lie.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:09PM (#39543759) Homepage

    The police station's camera really doesn't tell us much (both sides are claiming it as evidence) and the eyewitness reports are... meh.

    Yes they do - they tell us that George Zimmerman and his lawyer lied when they claimed that Zimmerman was badly hurt by Martin. Zimmerman claimed that Martin had broken his nose and smashed his head against the sidewalk. Neither injury could have even come close to fully healing between the time of the fight and the time the video was taken, there's no record of ER care, both those injuries would be plainly visible (they bleed like crazy), and neither injury is evident in the video footage.

    Regardless of what happened, it gives every indication of George Zimmerman being an unreliable and self-serving witness.

  • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:16PM (#39543799)

    A 911 dispatcher is NOT a cop and has NO authority. Being told to leave the kid alone by the 911 operator means nothing in any legal sense.

    Nobody is saying the 911 dispatcher has any legal authority. It was advice. Good advice. If he had followed that advice and stayed where he was we mightn't be in this mess now. At the very least there wouldn't be the public opinion that he put himself in a position where using his gun might be considered even remotely necessary.

    Just because "you're not the boss of me" doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to the person offering the advice.

  • by pseudofrog ( 570061 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:25PM (#39543871)
    You can't possibly be serious.

    Zimmerman followed Martin with his truck, exited his vehicle, and proceeded to chase him. Yet you claim, with full confidence, that Martin started the confrontation?

    Come on.
  • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3@just[ ... t ['con' in gap]> on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:36PM (#39543961)

    You're a fucking idiot.

    You're walking down the street. There's a guy following you in a SUV. You keep walking, he keeps following. Then he gets out of the car and comes towards you.

    I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty freaked out. Definitely enough to be very prepared for a physical confrontation, even though I didn't have any weapons and was just minding my own business. It doesn't matter if Trayvon beat the hell out of Zimmerman - frankly, he should've, he was being assaulted (the threat of violence). But instead Zimmerman shoots him.

    If I go into a bar, threaten a guy until he has to respond by force, am I justified in shooting him?

    Keep in mind, there's not even any substantial evidence that Travyon did actually respond to the threat with force.

  • by pseudofrog ( 570061 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:40PM (#39543983)'ve gone off the deep end.

    So fucking what if he was in his motor vehicle? I don't have to cower in the safety of my motor vehicle, and he didn't either.

    If he was exiting the vehicle to go home, pick up trash, or rescue a puppy and Martin attacked him, you'd have a point. There is no doubt that he exited the vehicle to confront Martin. There's no serious dispute about this particular fact.

    The only reason the 911 operator asked if Zimmerman was following Martin was because he sounded OUT OF BREATH. He was not in his vehicle, he was pursuing on foot.

    And she didn't tell him to stop pursuing. She said he didn't "need" to do that.

    First of all, the dispatcher was a male. Have you actually listened to the tape? Second, your claim that the dispatcher told Zimmerman to stop pursuing because he sounded tired is patently absurd. Zimmerman's lawyers wouldn't even attempt to make that point in a trial because they'd worry that the jury feel that their intelligence is being insulted.

    The dispatcher told him to stop pursuit because Zimmerman is not a law-enforcement officer. Again, there is no serious dispute about this fact.

    And do you really think calling 911 is a reasonable option if your being chased by someone with a gun?

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:55PM (#39544085)

    The outrage in this case is because most people believe, if a person, particularly a child, is shot dead in the street, that there should be an accounting before a court of law for that death unless the evidence is overwhelming that no crime took place. Your race-baiting crime stats are irrelevant to the sense of fundamental injustice that people feel about an unaccounted death. If your child was killed while walking home from the store, you would want the perpetrator brought to justice regardless of whether his racial makeup fit into some convenient narrative you seem to think is so important.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by happyhamster ( 134378 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:55PM (#39544089)

    A guy gives you a "warning punch" in a shoulder in the midst on an argument. You feel pain, so you've been "injured". You take out your concealed gun and shoot the guy in the head.

    You have to be reasonably concerned about your safety, and this is not reasonable. This is insane.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @07:09PM (#39544175)

    So, the moral of the story: don't start fights.

    ...unless you have a gun and shoot the other guy dead when he defends himself against your attack, then it's okay.

    What, you doubt that version of events? You doubt that Zimmerman, who admittedly followed the kid and confronted him, was the aggressor?

    Maybe Zimmerman was innocently keeping an eye on a suspicious, dark, menacing, hoodie-wearing black thug, who flew into a Skittles-crazed Ebonic-profanity laced attack when merely asked about his whereabouts, and fully deserved, therefore, to get gunned down like a sub-human animal? Well, maybe so. Maybe that's exactly what happened.

    Let's have a court of law make a determination, is all people are saying.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @07:28PM (#39544275)

    he should have called 911 instead of starting an altercation.

    He should have? You're full of the rights of Zimmerman to do whatever the hell he damn well pleases, however badly judged and however against the advice of the authorities.

    But for Martin, you're saying what he should have done?

    If you're a black kid in an area where cops have a reputation for racism, calling 911 is not the first option that comes to mind. Instead he rang his girlfriend to say there was someone following him. And the girlfriend advised him to run away. Which he did.

    Rather than realising the kid was scared, Zimmerman seems to have taken this as as something else to be suspicious about.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @07:39PM (#39544361)

    I wasn't there, so I have no real opinion on the whole thing other than to say, "I do hope they figure out what really happened so we can put it all to rest." There are important, unanswered questions about what happened and both theories seem entirely plausible to me.

    The 911 calls clearly show that Zimmerman pursued Martin after having been told not to, and Martin was found to have had no weapons of any kind on his person. Neither of those facts have been disputed by any version of events that I've heard. Where's the doubt and unanswered questions for you?

    Quite honestly, it doesn't matter if Martin beat the crap out of Zimmerman before he was shot. Zimmerman was an armed man following him as he was trying to go about his daily business. In the same situation, I would have done the same. *that* is the self defense in this situation. If there was an altercation before Martin was shot, it was because Martin was trying to defend himself against Zimmerman. It's not relevant to the fact that Zimmerman followed him after having been told not to, and that as a direct result of that, Martin was killed. Whether it's manslaughter or premeditated may be in question, but there should be no doubt at all that Martin was murdered.

    While I don't like turning this into a racial thing, the unfortunate reality is that if Martin was a 17-year old white girl, there wouldn't be any doubt whether Zimmerman was a murderer. Unfortunately, his victim was a 17-year old black boy. That, alone, is enough in the minds of some people to cast doubt on whether it was murder or self defense, and it makes me sick to my stomach. That kid did not have to die, and he is being denied justice by a police force that refuses to arrest and charge his killer.

    Unfortunately, the racial tensions that are coming out of the woodwork over this one are exactly the reason that Martin was killed in the first place: in the US, the schism between Blacks and Whites was never resolved. It was put on the back burner and allowed to fester while on the surface people pretended it was done with. As long as there continues to exist a double standard, it can never be resolved properly.

    The US is not alone in this... there's similar problems in other countries... look at how France is treating the Muslims (well, the US is doing it, too). Look at how "witches" are being treated in Africa and India. Look at how the first nations population is grossly over-represented in Canadian prisons. The world has a lot of problems. My only hope (aside from justice for Martin) is that it will open a dialogue and people will realise that the colour of your skin is not an indicator of what you will do with your life. Sadly, I think that realisation is generations away in parts of the US. (and yes, it took generations in other parts of the world, but we had a head start... in the British Empire, for example, slavery was officially abolished in 1833, but was largely gone already by 1797 and had been ruled in 1772 that Slavery was not legal in England itself, only the colonies... the beginnings of desegregation in England go back to a 1569 report, which declared that "England [was] too pure an air for a slave to breathe in". So we've had a bit of a head start.)

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @09:08PM (#39544991) Journal

    How is this marked troll? Zimmerman's whole case seems to ride on him "feeling threatened" which apparently makes it okay to murder people in Florida.

    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.

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @09:51PM (#39545185) Journal

    I think the jury is still out on if that happened or not.

    True. We won't know the truth until we have all the facts. There are many facts missing. The report from the paramedics, for example, has not been reported as far as I know.

    So it's okay to shoot to death someone attacking you.

    As a matter of fact, that is the one of the only times it is OK to shoot someone to death. The others would be if they had broken into your house or attacking a loved one.

    But it is not okay to attack a lunatic carrying a gun that is chasing you?

    Attacking a lunatic with a gun is the kind of thing that will get you shot.

  • by one cup of coffee ( 1623645 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:06AM (#39545831)
    Sorry no Mod points. Please mod up.
  • by Howitzer86 ( 964585 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:12AM (#39545857)
    You claim to not know enough information to pass judgement, and then you pass judgement, declaring racism. Nice doubletalk there. Just goes to show how insidious the anti-discrimination laws are. If he's broken the law, judge him with the law, but don't go tacking on bullshit like that just to prosecute your man anyway.
  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @01:09AM (#39546109) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, at his age I was an inch shorter and 25 pounds heavier. I'm now 35 pounds heavier than this kid, and most people still consider me skinny at my height.

    6'3" and 140# is rail-thin.

  • Re:So what? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SupraTT GOP ( 825665 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @01:21AM (#39546165)
    HEY dumbass, why are you making stuff up, suggesting Martin KNEW he had a gun? FABRICATED. There is absolutely no reason to believe it was not concealed as it, by nature of being a concealed weapon, always is. (As to whether or not the presence of the weapon was known once there was a physical altercation, that is N/A, or NOT APPLICABLE. Because I know you were just about to bring that up, dumb as you are.)

    Since when does "hunting someone down" universally "force confrontation"? Firstly, you don't know that he was hunting him down. Evidence (911 call) actually suggests it was a safe-distance following- and that he didn't know where Martin was, at least at one point! WHY do you ignore this???

    And LOL just like a lefty to suggest that being beaten up is not sufficient to use lethal stopping force, but being FOLLOWED is LOL... It is truly PAINFUL to contemplate the workings of your brain. Because it clearly doesn't work correctly.

    Filthy racebaiter.
  • Hypothetical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metacell ( 523607 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @05:24AM (#39546973)

    Let's assume a large black man follows a 17-year-old white boy into an alley, claiming the boy looks suspicious. There, the black man shoots the white boy. The black man emerges with minor wounds to his head and claims that he, for unknown reasons, was attacked by the white boy, who, it turns out, had done nothing wrong and wasn't carrying anything suspicious. The prosecutor decides to not prosecute because they have no proof the black man didn't act in self-defence.

    Would people be so quick to jump to the black man's defence?

  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:19AM (#39549101)

    Zimmerman instigated the entire thing by having ANY interaction with Trayvon. Had Zimmerman behaved as a neighborhood watch is supposed to behave - observed and called the cops, NO INTERACTION - this situation would not have happened, if the reports are to be believed.

    I am on the NW in my area and we have had specific instructions not to engage AT ALL with anyone suspicious, for ANY reason, unless there is an IMMEDIATE threat posed by the suspicious person's actions. As in, do NOTHING but call the cops if we merely see the person breaking in or doing damage to property, but attempt to intervene if they are actively physically assaulting another human being. Also, there are several people on my NW group who have carry permits and they were EXPLICITLY told by police to NOT carry when they were doing NW rounds in order to reduce the risk of this exact kind of situation.

    Zimmerman going armed and interacting with Trayvon while on NW skews the balance VERY strongly in favor of him trying to provoke something so he'd have a chance to use that gun. I don't find Zimmerman's account credible at all.

    Had he simply called the cops and not interacted, as he was supposed to, as any responsible NW member has undoubtedly been told by police to do, this entire situation would not have happened.

    Then again, maybe Florida is different. Maybe in Florida they tell guys who have zero law enforcement training and no official standing what-so-ever to feel free to attempt to detain potentially dangerous people who are simply walking down the street, and suggest having the capacity for lethal force while doing so. Maybe they're that fucking stupid down there.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham