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Expert: Screams on 911 call are not Zimmerman's

  • Critical hearing on admissibility of 911 call as evidence
  • George Zimmerman trial scheduled to begin Monday
Expert: Screams on 911 call are not Zimmerman's

An audio expert testified at a hearing in the George Zimmerman trial that a voice heard screaming on a 911 call from the night Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin was not Zimmerman's. In fact, Alan Reich told the court the screams are likely almost entirely those of the then 17-year-old Martin.

The conclusion that Zimmerman is not the one heard screaming was also shared by defense expert Tom Owen, who testified before Reich.

The two experts' testimony was the at the core of Friday's critical hearing, which sought to determine if the 911 call would be allowed into evidence when the trial begins in just three days. The session will continue Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the Sanford, Florida, shooting death of Trayvon Martin on the night of February 26, 2012. He says he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense.

The 911 calls would be important evidence to back-up or refute his defense, if the technology used to analyze the voices on the calls is judged to be “generally accepted” in that field.

Friday's hearing began with Owen testifying that in his analysis of the calls, Zimmerman did not utter a racial slur. He also concluded the former neighborhood watch captain was not the one screaming on the 911 call. Owen said he took a recording of Zimmerman's voice and raised it to the pitch of the screams, and that they did not match.

During Reich's testimony, in which he said the screams were likely Martin's, the defense pressed him on his methodology. Reich said he had to separate the screams from the background noise and explained his process for analyzing the recording, which he said involved a minimal of enhancement of the audio.

Under cross-examination from defense attorney Don West, Reich walked through the techniques he used to identify the speakers on the 911 call, including a process that involved slowing the speech down and comparing the different speech samples.

Saturday, the defense plans to call three more witnesses. Judge Debra Nelson set the weekend session to ensure the matter is resolved before jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday.

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