Judge Rules out Audio Experts in Zimmerman Trial
Judge Debra Nelson, who is presiding over the murder trial of George Zimmerman, ruled Saturday that although a tape of a 911 call may be admitted in the trial, prosecution audio experts who say that the voice screaming is Trayvon Martin’s will not be allowed to testify. Martin’s family says it was Martin’s voice; Zimmerman’s father says it was Zimmerman’s. The reason for the battle is that identifying the voice may show who was the aggressor.
Nelson ruled that the methods used by prosecution audio experts Tom Owen and Alan Reich aren’t reliable, saying, "There is no evidence to establish that their scientific techniques have been tested and found reliable.”
The two experts differed as to whose voice was heard screaming; one said Martin, the other said Zimmerman. Defense experts said it was unclear, and that the experts’ analysis was flawed. Because the experts will not testify, the trial will be one week shorter than expected, which had been two to four weeks after opening statements were finished.
During the initial hearing, both the prosecution and defense had audio experts from both sides testify. The conclusions from the array of experts was inconclusive.
Voice experts were hired by lawyers and news organizations to analyze the calls, which were made during the confrontation between the two. The experts arrived at mixed conclusions.
Owen said the voice was not Zimmerman’s after he compared a sample of Zimmerman’s voice to other 911 calls that featured screams from neighbors. He said, "The screams don't match at all. That's what tells me the screams aren't George Zimmerman."
Owen didn’t try comparing Martin’s because he didn’t have a sample of Martin’s. Owen added that Zimmerman’s remarks when he was with police were not racist; he said Zimmerman said, "These f------ punks."
Reich, on the other hand, said the voice on the tape was Martin’s and protested that the defense wouldn’t let him testify. He said he could identify Zimmerman saying,
"This shall be" and "I'm begging you." But other experts said they did not hear that. Nelson said Reich's testimony would "confuse issues, mislead the jury."
But dismissing both experts was British audio expert Peter French, who asserted, "I've never come across a case in my 13 years where anybody's tried to compare screaming to a normal voice.”
An audio expert for the defense, George Doddington, simply said of the assertions that the voice was Martin’s, "It's all ridiculous."