The Orlando Sentinel reported this weekend that two different forensic experts studying 911 calls from the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting have come to the same conclusion about a key claim of George Zimmerman's.
One of the most important pieces of evidence to emerge from the case is a 911 call made by a neighbor who reported the disturbance involving Martin and Zimmerman. In the background of the call, a voice can be heard calling for help, shortly before sound of the gun shot that killed Martin is fired. (As it was chillingly described in The New York Times, "A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.") Zimmerman has claimed to police that the voice yelling out was his, while Martin's family insists that it belongs to their son.
Tom Owen, a forensic audio consultant contacted by the Sentinel, performed a biometric software analysis on the audio tapes that he says rules out Zimmerman as the voice on the tape. Owen doesn't definitively say that the voice is Martin's, but he told the paper (and MSNBC's Alex Witt) that "you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman." A different audio expert, Ed Primeau, used different techniques but came to the same conclusion.
We imagine there's enough debate on the science of these forensic techniques to question the "certainty" that Owen speaks of, but this could be the most important and contentious pieces of evidence in the case. The software used by Owen gives Zimmerman's voice "a 48 percent match" to the one on the call, which is probably enough for a good lawyer to raise doubts in a courtroom. However, if Zimmerman is ever bought to trial it will be experts like Owen and Primeau who will be called to testify about this evidence and the technology behind it — technology that everyone in the general public will suddenly become an "expert" on in the coming days.
No matter which side you're on there's no doubt that the entire case will be played out on the pages of newspapers well before any real trial begins. For every point Zimmerman has made in his version of events, there's a been counterpoint, followed by another supporting explanation from his defenders. with everyone finding exactly what they're looking for. It probably won't be long before another forensic expert is found to say it is Zimmerman (or not Martin) on that tape. And the cycle will continue.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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