Attorneys vie for advantage in Zimmerman trial

NEED TO KNOW
  • George Zimmerman is in court for the last hearing before his murder trial. Watch it live on HLN.
  • Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012
Attorneys vie for advantage in Zimmerman trial

Jury selection in the George Zimmerman trial starts in just three days, and time is running out for both sides as the last pre-trial hearing continues Friday.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for shooting Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. He says he shot the teenager in self defense.

Attorneys representing Zimmerman are getting their last chance Friday to argue key issues that could be critical to their client's defense.

Court picked-up Friday morning where it left off Thursday, with the attorneys arguing over the admissibility of technology used to analyze screams on a 911 call.

Read more: HLN's live blog of Thursday's hearing

The technology may be key to the prosecution’s case because their experts’ testimony may be able to shed light on what was said between Zimmerman and Martin moments before the teenager was shot.

If the analysis indicates Martin screamed for help, it could hurt the credibility of Zimmerman's claim that he acted in self-defense.

The law states that for technology to be admissible, it must be “generally accepted” in that particular field. Zimmerman’s attorneys are arguing the technology does not satisfy that threshold.

During his testimony, defense expert Hirotaka Nakasone, an audio engineer for the FBI, expressed his doubts about using the recordings.

"A screaming voice is too far for us to address," Nakasone said. "It might mislead in the worst case."

It is not clear if, during Friday's hearing, the court will tackle the defense’s motion requesting that prosecutors be prohibited from calling Zimmerman a "racist."

Attorneys could also hash out any remaining issues regarding jury selection.

HLN is live-blogging Zimmerman's hearing Friday. Click here to read HLN's live blog of the last Zimmerman hearing. Read below for minute-by-minute updates:

4:47 p.m. ET: Judge Nelson said the defense has three more witnesses so the hearing will resume tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. ET. She is now listening to the defense's request to extend curfew for Zimmerman. Prosecutors are objected to the motion. Nelson said she would extend curfew to 10 p.m. ET, but said Zimerman can only leave Seminole County, Florida to only visit O'Mara's firm.

4:42 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at sidebar discussing how they want to proceed with the hearing.

4:39 p.m. ET: Prosecutor Reich said he has completed his case on this issue. Judge Nelson asked West if he wanted to call another witness now or come in tomorrow morning and call a witness.

4:38 p.m. ET: Reich has completed his testimony.

4:36 p.m. ET: West is asking Reich to identify all the different people he heard on the 911 call. It seems like he could identify about 4 or 5 people on the recording.

4:33 p.m. ET: West is asked Reich if he considered the fact that Zimmerman may have been punched in the face the night of the shooting, and it may have changed his speech or the nasal quality of his voice. Reich said he couldn't detect any nasality of the recording of the 911 call.

4:30 p.m. ET: After the prosecutor objected, judge Nelson reminded the defense again that the purpose of the hearing is to determine if the technology is new and novel in the field not about the opinion of the analysis.

4:26 p.m. ET: Reich said he will finish the transcript of the 911 call in this case in about a week.

4:24 p.m. ET: West is asking Reich how he bills his clients. He said he bills by the hour.

4:21 p.m. ET: Reich said he recieved about $2,000 working for the Washington Post analyze the 911 calls, and eventually someone from the state attorneys office contacted him.

4:05 p.m. ET: Reich is walking through the techniques he used to identify the speakers on the 911 call including a process that involves slowing the speech down, and comparing the different speach samples.

4:01 p.m. ET: West is asking Reich how he identified speakers on this recording.

3:58 p.m. ET: West is asking Reich how he enhanced some of the audio on the 911 call to analyze it. Reich said he do minimum enhancement on the audio to analyze, and basically all he did was increase amplification.

3:55 p.m. ET: Reich said he analyzed a recording of the 911 call the prosecutors provided to him.

3:51 p.m. ET: Reich said the 911 call in Zimmerman's case provided enough audio to provide an analysis.

3:47 p.m. ET: Reich is having trouble hearing West, and he has asked West to repeat himself mutliple times.

3:43 p.m. ET: Reich said he has specific ways he conducts his analysis, and he says it difficult to establish a specific standards that would work for every case.

Reich also said he has no set standards when making speaker identification analysis.  He says he does not require  a minimum set of words or minimum duration of speech to reach a conclusion.

By comparison, the FBI requires 20 words and at least 16 seconds of speech.

3:40 p.m. ET: West asked Reich subjectively decides if a voice sample is valid or high enough quality for analysis.

3:36 p.m. ET: West wants to know if Reich follows any standards regarding the minimum length a voice sample can be for him to conduct a valid analysis. Reich seems to indicate that he does not follow a standard regarding the minimum length of a voice sample.

3:34 p.m. ET: Reich said the FBI's standard for a valid voice sample that can be examined should have 20 words.

3:31 p.m. ET: Judge Nelson is back on the bench. Reich is on the phone, and defense attorney is continuing his cross-examination.

3:11 p.m. ET: Court is taking a 10 minute recess.

3:10 p.m. ET: West is asking Reich about the standards in voice analysis. Reich said there is research that says a voice sample can be one second long, and that can be enough to conduct a proper analysis.

3:07 p.m. ET: Reich said it is possible to make out some of the background speech on the 911 call without amplification or enhancement.

3:04 p.m. ET: West is having Reich walk through how he analyzed the 911 call again.

3:03 p.m. ET: Reich said he does have a partial transcript of the 911 call, but he does not have it with him at this moment.

3:00 p.m. ET: Reich said he was able to identify speech in the screams on the 911 call. West wants to know if he has a transcript of the 911 call, but Reich said it is on going, but it is not complete.

2:56 p.m. ET: West is asking Reich if has reached a conclusion in this case. Reich said he came to tentative conclusion which means he believes there is a high likely hood that his conclusions are correct.

2:52 p.m. ET: Mantei has finished his questions for Reich, and now defense attorney West is about to ask him questions after the move the microphone for the phone.

2:50 p.m. ET: Reich concluded that the person with the scream that was higher pitched and very loud  was not George Zimmerman.   Rather, he said the words that were on scream level were "almost entirely of Trayvon Martin.
 
2:49 p.m. ET: It is difficult to understand Reich as he testifies over the phone. The court reporter has had to ask him to repeat his answers on occasion.
 
2:46 p.m. ET: Reich said he concluded that the voice screaming on the 911 call was not Zimmerman.
 
2:42 p.m. ET: Mantei is walking Reich through all the environmental factors that can affect the quality of an audio recording.
 
2:38 p.m. ET: Reich said he used software to analyze the 911 call, and he did not use anything new and novel in this case.
 
2:35 p.m. ET: Reich said he had to separate the screams from the background noise, and he is now discussing the methods he employed to analyze the recording.
 
2:32 p.m. ET: Reich is explaining how he analyzed the screams on the 911 call.
 
2:30 p.m. ET:  Alan Reich, Ph.D concluded that, among other things, that Martin was the person screaming in the background of the 911 call.  The Defense is calling into question the methodology which Reich used to form his opinion.
 
2:28 p.m. ET: Mantei has worked at the Universities of Iowa, Connecticut, and Washington. He has also worked as consultant analyzing "acoustic signals."
 
2:25 p.m. ET: Mantei is asking Reich about his education and his work experience.
 
2:24 p.m. ET: Prosecutor Mantei is calling Alan Reich to testify over the phone.
 
2:23 p.m. ET: The judge ruled that the defense's notes she just reviewed are work product, and don't need to be turned over to the prosecutor.
 
2:22 p.m. ET: The just is still reviewing materials as the parties wait in silence.
 
2:16 p.m. ET: The judge is reviewing more materials as the attorneys wait in silence.
 
2:13 p.m. ET: The judge just reviewed emails from  defense experts to the defense to deterimine  what should be turned over to the State.  The Defense said they should be considered the experts  "work product" and they should not have to turn them overm and the judge agreed.
 
2:07 p.m. ET: Defense attorney West is reviewing some emails the judge wants to read.
 
2:03 p.m. ET: The judge is on the bench and the parties are discussing whether today's hearing should be continued.
 Judge said let's see how far we get. She also said she normally believes in a 5 pm stop time, but can go to 6 pm tonight if warranted.
 
 
12:57 p.m. ET: Owen is done testifying. Court has recessed for lunch. The live blog will pick back up when court resumes at 2 p.m. ET.
 
12:56 p.m. ET: West made the point that Owen deviated from his own standards to conduct his analysis in the Zimmerman case. Owen said he has not deviated from his standards he just didn't have 20 words to work with.
 
12:53 p.m. ET: Mantei has concluded his questions for Owen. West is now asking Owen if standards don't mean anything. Owen laughed and said that is ridiculous.
 
12:51 p.m. ET: Owen said 911 calls are never the best quality even under the best circumstances.
 
12:48 p.m. ET: Mantei is asking Owen about all the factors that can render a voice sample unusable.
 
12:45 p.m. ET: Owen said almost every 911 calls has someone screaming in the background so it is very common for forensics to try to analyze the screams.
 
12:43 p.m. ET: West has concluded his questions for Owen. Prosecutor Mentei is now asking him questions.
 
12:39 p.m. ET: West is asking Owen about other criminal cases he has testified in, and whether he has ever been involved with separate hearing in the past to decide if his methodology was generally accepted in the field.
 
12:36 p.m. ET: Owen said according to the FBI that spectrograph analysis has an error rate of less than one percent.
 
12:32 p.m. ET: West is asking Owen if deviated from the accepted standards for spectrograph analysis in this case.
 
12:31 p.m. ET: West has asked for a moment to review his materials.
 
12:29 p.m. ET: Multiple times during his West's questioning, Owen has demanded that West let him finish speaking.
 
12:27 p.m. ET: West keeps asking Owen if he was able to reach a conclusion with his spectrograph analysis in this case. Owen said he could only make a probable conclusion with that method.
 
12:24 p.m. ET: Owen said to make a positive i.d. with spectrograph analysis the sample needs to be 20 words long. So he had to make a probable i.d. not a postive i.d. He said in Zimmeraman's case he made a probable i.d.
 
12:21 p.m. ET: West is asking Owen about how he used spectrograph analysis in this case.
 
12:18 p.m. ET: The defense is submitting some evidence on to the record.
 
12:15 p.m. ET: West is walking Owen through all the research he has turned over to the prosecutors. He says the defense hasn't received everything.
 
12:11 p.m. ET: Owen said the software he has a financial interest called Easy Voice Biometrics is used by the NCIS in a forensic capacity.
 
12:07 p.m. ET: Owen said he believes the person screaming on 911 call is calling for help multiple times in different ways, before the gunshot goes off.
 
12:03 p.m. ET: West is hammering Owen about how he used the software, and how he looped the audio to get it the software to work. He called Owen's methodology of looping the audio as "new and novel."
 
11:59 a.m. ET: West wants to know why Owen thinks its scientifically acceptable to loop the audio until you get enough. Owen said it is common to loop audio.
 
11:56 a.m. ET: Owen said he doubled the length or the screams by editing the screams together so it would be long enough of the software to analyze the screams.
The software requires a 16 second voice sample to run the analysis.
 
11:53 a.m. ET: West is asking Owen questions about his methodology of comparing the screams. Owens said there seems to be no research or studies about his methodology.
 
11:49 a.m. ET: Owen said he took a recording of Zimmerman's voice and raised it to the pitch of the screams, and they did not match.
 
11:46 a.m. ET: West is asking about how software assisted Owen analyze the 911 screams.
 
11:41 a.m. ET: West is asking Owen if he has promoted on national TV the software he receives profits from. Owen said yes, because he used the software to analyze the 911 call in this case.
 
11:36 a.m. ET: West is having Owen break down his financial relationship with Tracer technologies.
 
11:33 a.m. ET: Owen receives a contract with one of the Tracer technologies, and receives a small percentage from sales of the software.
 
11:30 a.m. ET: West is asking Owen questions about one of the software programs he used to analyze the screams on the 911 calls.
 
11:27 a.m. ET: Defense attorney West objected to Nelson ruling about focus of the hearing, and Nelson ordered the defense to continue with their questioning of Owen. She also said she would here the defense objections after testimony is concluded.
 
11:24 a.m. ET: Nelson said she agreed with the prosecutor's objection that today's hearing should not discuss the results of the 911 scream voice analysis. She said this hearing should only be focused on whether the methodology is new and a novel or "generally accepted" in the field.
 
11:19 a.m. ET: Owens documents have still not been printed out by the court. So it appears the hearing will be delayed a little while longer.
 
11:14 a.m. ET: The judge is back on the bench, and it appears the attorneys are still reviewing Owen's report.
 
10:38 a.m. ET: The court is going to take a recess for a few minutes for the attorneys to review the transcript of the screams. The live blog will pick back up when court resumes.
 
10:35 a.m. ET: Nelson is asking Owen to email to the transcript of the 911 screams to the attorney.
 
10:31 a.m. ET: West said this is the first time the defense is hearing that Owen identify speech in the 911 screams, and this hearing is an opportunity for the court to not only hear about methodology but also analysis.
 
10:27 a.m. ET: Mantei is objecting to defense line of questioning about the transcript of the screams as being outside the scope hearing. The hearing is supposed to be about the methodology and technology according to the prosecutor.
 
10:22 a.m. ET: Owen said he was able to identify certain words in the screams on the 911 call. He has a transcript and he will send it to the attorneys.
 
10:19 a.m. ET: West is asking Owen about his education and work experience. Owen said he has a degree in history, and does not have any advanced degrees. He also said he does not make any claim to understand the mathematics behind the software he uses.
 
10:16 a.m. ET: West is asking Owen about the different tools he used to analyze the 911 call in the Zimmerman case.
 
10:14 a.m. ET: Prosecutor Mantei has finished his questions for Owen. Defense attorney Don West is now asking Owen questions on cross examination.
 
10:07 a.m. ET: The attorneys are at sidebar with the judge.
 
10:06 a.m. ET: Owen said he determined that Zimmerman did not say a racial slur on the 911 call, and he also concluded that Zimmerman was not the one screaming on the 911 call.
 
10:04 a.m. ET: Owen said he also analyzed the 911 call Zimmerman made moments before confronting Martin to see if he made a racial slur on the call.
 
10:00 a.m. ET: Owen used at least three technologies to analyze the screams in the 911 call.
 
9:57 a.m. ET: The voice analysis technology Owen uses measures the rate someone speak.
 
9:53 a.m. ET: Owen is explaining the different software technology he uses for voice analysis.
 
9:48 a.m. ET: Mantei just played several screams from the 911 call that Owen says are useable to make for voice identification. It was just a few seconds long, and you can only hear a few screams.
 
9:44 a.m. ET: Owen is talking about the different technologies he uses for voice identification.
 
9:40 a.m. ET: Prosecutor Rich Mantei is asking Owen about how he analyzed the 911 call in this case.
 
9:38 a.m. ET: Owen is walking through his education and work experience.
 
9:37 a.m. ET: The prosecution has called Tom Owen to testify about the technology used to analyze the screams on the 911 call. Owen has been active in forensics since 1981, and he specializes in audio forensics. He is testifying via teleconference.
 
9:34 a.m. ET: It appears the next witness will be testifying via teleconference. There is a large projection screen where the witness can be seen.
 
9:29 a.m. ET: It seems court will resume despite the technical issues. Zimmerman is in attendance this morning.
 
9:26 a.m. ET: Judge Nelson is on the bench. The courtroom appears to be having some audio issues with its speaker system.
 
9:00 a.m. ET: The following two motions were filed with the court yesterday according to Zimmerman's website:  (The judge has yet to rule on them.)

Defendant’s motion to extend curfew

Zimmerman is asking the Court to extend his curfew until 11 p.m. and that he be allowed to go to Orange County to meet with his counsel for the rest of the trial. Currently, Zimmerman’s curfew is between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and he must stay in Seminole County. Zimmerman’s attorneys say his availability and attendance to their meetings are necessary given the “extraordinary demands of the case” to help them prepare for trial.

Defendant’s motion to prohibit spectators from wearing items that depict support

Zimmerman is asking the Court to ban people from wearing buttons, clothing, or accessories in support of the prosecution or Trayvon Martin. They defense says “the spectators' ‘message’ would be inherently prejudicial to Zimmerman and jeopardize his guarantee of a fair trial.”

8:57 a.m. ET: The hearing should start any minute.
 
 

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