The latest silliness in the Trayvon Martin case is a report from the Orlando Sentinel:
Trayvon Martin shooting: It’s not George Zimmerman crying for help on 911 recording, 2 experts say
Tom 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.
Zimmerman claims self-defense in the shooting and told police he was the one screaming for help. But these experts say the evidence tells a different story.
Owen, a court-qualified expert witness and former chief engineer for the New York Public Library’s Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, is an authority on biometric voice analysis — a computerized process comparing attributes of voices to determine whether they match.
After the Sentinel contacted Owen, he 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,” Owen says.
The software compared that audio to Zimmerman’s voice. It returned a 48 percent match. Owen said to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he’d expect higher than 90 percent.
“As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it’s not Zimmerman,” Owen says, stressing that he cannot confirm the voice as Trayvon’s, because he didn’t have a sample of the teen’s voice to compare.
Actually, as Tom Maguire points out, they didn’t rule Zimmerman out, they failed to rule him in. So let’s say they find some clip of Trayvon talking and the same analysis shows a 46% match. Have they now ruled out both men?
To be admissible, expert evidence must be reliable:
The trial judge performs a “gatekeeping” role in excluding unreliable testimony. The United States Supreme Court first addressed the reliability requirement for experts in the landmark case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The Court laid out four non-exclusive factors that trial courts may consider when evaluating scientific expert reliability: (1) whether scientific evidence has been tested and the methodology with which it has been tested; (2) whether the evidence has been subjected to peer review or publication; (3) whether a potential rate of error is known; and (4) whether the evidence is generally accepted in the scientific community. Id. at 592-94. Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael later extended the Daubert analysis to include all expert testimony. 526 U.S. 137 (1999).
The polygraph has been around for 90 years but it still isn’t admissible in most courts because it isn’t considered reliable. Here, we are supposed to believe that Zimmerman’s regular speaking voice on one 911 recording can be compared to the screams of an unidentified person heard on a different recording to accurately determine whether it was Zimmerman or not.
I don’t know about you but my speaking voice and screaming voice are somewhat different.
This report has brought out the pinheads in force to expound upon how the screaming voice on the recording sounds more like a 6’2″ 160lb 17 year old black male than a 5’9′ 200lb 28 year old Hispanic male. I would love to see the research data on that.
Assuming that this case goes to trial and the judge rules that voice recognition evidence is admissible, I would expect the defense to bring it their own credentialed experts to say it was Zimmerman screaming.
There are prostitutes in every profession who perform for pay. Expert witnesses are notoriously, uh . . . “flexible” in their testimony. That includes the ones on the government payroll.
Here is what we know:
The first officer on the scene stated that Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and back of his head. The officer said that Zimmerman’s back had grass on it and that it was wet. He overheard Zimmerman say “I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me.”
There was an eyewitness named “John” who saw two men fighting. He said that Trayvon was on top and was beating Zimmerman who was screaming for help. There was another witness who made a similar statement but he couldn’t tell who was on top or who was screaming.
There was a women who reported hearing someone “whining” but didn’t see anything until after the fight had ended. She concluded it was Trayvon who had been whining. But she never met either man before and has no idea what Tayvon’s voice sounded like. Her conclusion is just a guess.
There is a 911 call of a women telling the police dispatcher that there is someone fighting outside of her home. The woman did not see what happened. You can hear yelling in the backgound, then a gunshot. This is the recording the “experts” used.
Not one eyewitness has come forward who directly contradicts Zimmerman or “John”. If I hear some screaming I can testify to that as a matter of my observations and recollection. My opinion as to who was screaming is just that – an opinion.
Baba Maha banned me for saying this:
Sorry, but I’m not a wingnut. I am a liberal and a former criminal defense attorney.
From the comments at Tom Maguire’s:
Golly, the Easy Voice Biometrics software has only been available since March 7. And the webpage that it is sold on is registered to:
Owen Forensic Services, LLC
Owen Forensic Services, LLC
He has managed to get a lot of free publicity for his new software product with this story!!