April 2nd, 2012
05:27 PM ET

Analysts: Questions surround 911 call analysis in Trayvon Martin case

Two experts who analyzed a 911 call made during the confrontation that ended in Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's death said they believe the screams heard in the background are not those of shooter George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, 28, has claimed self-defense in shooting Martin on February 26. He said the 17-year-old accosted him after he called police to report Martin as a suspicious person walking around his neighborhood.

But the analysis poses some questions, legal analysts say, including whether it would be ruled admissible in court if charges are filed and the case goes to trial.

Audio experts Tom Owen and Ed Primeau analyzed the recordings for the Orlando Sentinel, and both said they believed it was not Zimmerman screaming.

"There's a huge chance that this is not Zimmerman's voice," said Primeau, a longtime audio engineer who is listed as an expert in recorded evidence by the American College of Forensic Examiners International. "As a matter of fact, after 28 years of doing this, I would put my reputation on the line and say this is not George Zimmerman screaming."

But is the analysis definitive enough for use in court? David Faigman, a professor of law at the University of California-Hastings and an expert on the admissibility of scientific evidence, said courts and the overall scientific community have mixed opinions about the reliability of such "voiceprint" analysis.

And CNN and HLN legal analysts Beth Karas and Sunny Hostin raised questions about what the public should consider regarding the conclusions reached.

Hostin says there are several questions and variables that must be considered, including the fact that the tests did not analyze similar speech. That is, the analysis was based on screams heard from a distance in a 911 call, compared with a direct phone conversation Zimmerman had with a 911 operator.

"Ideally, you want (Zimmerman or Martin's) voice saying the same exact thing, screaming 'help,' in order to analyze it," she said.

Would these tests even be admissible in court and considered evidence?

"It really depends on the individual judge," Hostin said. "In Florida, they are going to conduct a Frye test, the legal test, which asks if the science is generally accepted in the community."

Karas questioned whether the test stood up to the voice comparison standards of the American Board of Recorded Evidence, of which Owen is chairman emeritus.

 The standards indicate that when analyzing speech, there should be a minimum of at least 10 words to be compared with each other in order to say you can have a "possible elimination" conclusion. But in this case, the cries for help don't have nearly that number of words.

Owen said the published American Board of Recorded Evidence standards only partially apply to the kind of test he conducted.

"These standards apply to the older aural-spectrographic analysis and software," Owen said. "This only partially applies to the biometric software."

Both Karas and Hostin urged caution when it came to coming to a sure conclusion on the findings made by Primeau and Owen.

"I do think we need to take a step back, as with most of the facts in this case, and look at it the way the court would," Hostin said. "And that is by asking if the circumstances of how, and if, the test was done, OK, and wait to determine whether it's reliable."

- CNN's Greg Botelho and Mike Pearson contributed to this report.

soundoff (560 Responses)
  1. hemplover

    Custer had it coming too.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael

    The indisputable fact is that ALL the eyewitnesses testify that it was Zimmerman that was screaming and getting beat up before he defended himself. YET THE MEDIA IGNORES THIS. It also ignores the question of why would there even be a fight if Zimmerman had his gun out or was out to get the thief Martin. AND The media is covering up Martins toxocology report which show a large amount of drugs in his system. This is a lynching of Zimmerman. First the media thought he was a Jew, then they reported he was white, then they reported he was white hispanic but he is a black hispanic. The media and Obama are lying and making this into a racial issue when it is not. The blacks scream they want justice but they were the ones celebrating OJ Simpson murdering 2 white people. Hypocrites !

    April 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      I don't think Rush Limbaugh qualifies as a witness. What about common sense? Teenagers don't attack people with guns they run from them. Why do you even care when a child is dead. Shouldn't that be the only real issue here?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • columbus

      Wow, where have you gotten your facts from? Just because CNN or some other newsertainment program puts it out there doesn't make it a fact.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • jesse

      you are an idiot!

      April 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jesse

      you're an idiot!

      April 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voice of reason

      Now Michael, you know that almost all of what you've written is not true. No evidence for any of it.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • myshapelipo

      Except for the witnesses that say it was Martins voice.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      Not true.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      I hope typing all those lies and bigoted comments made you feel good ...

      April 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobbyLee

      You are correct, Micheal. Very few people are intelligent enough to take in all of the info with this situation. The rest just fall for the media's hype and think this was an innocent 14 year old boy.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • cherry

      where did you hear that the witnesses said it was zimmerman who was screaming..one of the witness said that he called zimmerman 2x but he did not answer,perhaps thinking what cover up he can do...and the other witnessed said she heard the scream and then the scream stop right after the shot,...so how is it possible that it was zimmerman who screams..and whtaever anything about trayvon,that is his personal issue.the issue here zimmerman killed an unarmed victim..zimmerman should be executed and rot in hell...

      April 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Commonsensechick

      Let me guess, your from down south? your probably a die hard republican who hates Obama huh? The nerve of you. If this was a 17 yr old white boy shot by a black neighborhood watch patrolmen you would be talking about how wild and crazy blacks are becoming right? 17 yr old boy is killed and you have the nerve to say we celebrated OJ? How about Emmett Till? Was that justified also? Hmm... maybe before you go throw your b.s on a website trying to bring the killer of an UNARMED teenage boy who was racially profiled maybe you should take a look into the history or prejudice and racism in this country. Then come back on here and say we are hypocrites for being ENRAGED at the "justice system" we should expect to protect us all equally.

      Good day sir.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      I don't see a problem with racial profiling right now. I think the crime statistics make it a valid law enforcement tool.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • GreatDayEveryone

      Wow, I think every single fact in your rant is incorrect. That's impressive, even for a stupid racist pig.

      The eyewitness statements are confused and conflicting
      The media DID report that
      Trayvon's tox report hasn't been publicized
      Zimmerman is a white hispanic (1/2)

      April 2, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      So is Yobama 1/2

      April 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      How about you stop generalizing fool. I am black and I think OJ is guilty......use your common sense.....you guys are making it more racial than we are. You want Trayvon to have done something bad that deserved him being killed which is RIDICULOUS. If this were ANY other case with any other races you would think Zimmerman was guilty. All of you are sickening.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • C. Sanders

      Sounds like your the hypocrite michael....first off that is the normal procedure to arrest a person after a shooting rather it is a stranger, family member etc..... now while their are some sick black people out here making this case about race, have you thought for one second that just maybe this case would not be played out in the media had the authorites had follow procedure. I also want to point out that this happened weeks ago and except for the uproar nothing would have been done about it. I can't speak for all blacks as well I should'nt but I can say that I would believe Zimmerman if he had not lied and said it was him screaming, at least that's what his friend and family members claim, and if he had not continue to follow Trayvon after he was told not too.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • zstorm

      you really can't be that ignorant, get your facts straight before you post.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. ton

    Nice that CNN replaced an identical article that said "The experts stressed they cannot say who was screaming. They have no samples of Martin's voice." with this one where that is omitted.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Zimmerman and other claim that it was him screaming - and the experts said that it is very unlikely that it wasn't him.
      I'm not sure what your issue is ...

      April 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bfskinnerpunk

    Stand your ground doesn't matter here... If Trayvon punched and then mounted Zimmerman in an assault... not a fight... an unwelcomed assault.... and you fear for your life.... then you can end the fight in whatever way possible. bam!

    Now, when someone fears for their life, this does not mean that they have been seriously injured... it just means that they are in a compromised position, being assaulted, and they can't escape. Stand your ground doesn't have to apply here.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voice of reason

      Only Zimmerman has said that Trayvon attacked him – no witness has corroborated that. Zimmerman was following Trayvon, so what are the chances that he was over-zealous in his vigilante activities? High I'd say.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Wow. You are wrong on so many points here. Let's start at the beginning.

      <<Stand your ground doesn't matter here
      Yes it does

      <<... If Trayvon punched and then mounted Zimmerman in an assault... not a fight... an unwelcomed assault....
      This would be battery, not assault.

      <<and you fear for your life.... then you can end the fight in whatever way possible. bam!
      Your fear must be reasonable. Otherwise, it is what is known as an imperfect self defense. This will mitigate the crime, but not absolve the criminal.

      <<Now, when someone fears for their life, this does not mean that they have been seriously injured...
      One of the few points you get right.

      <<it just means that they are in a compromised position, being assaulted, and they can't escape
      Oh, I guess I spoke too soon. Being assaulted is not the same as being battered. Do your legal research. Being in a compromised position has nothing to do with it. You must be in reasonable and sustained fear for your life.

      <<Stand your ground doesn't have to apply here.
      Of course it does. It means even if you have the ability to escape, you do not have to do so.

      You should really not rely on TV for your legal info if you are going to go around spouting it out like you actually know something.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      You conveniently forget that Zimmerman initiated the whole thing ... or is it selective logic to support your own
      bigoted theory?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tamisha

    The only reason whites aren't in the streets is cuz they have the legal system working for them.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • DevilDriven

      Good try, but the real reason is, we have jobs and are productive and are easy to work with.. People like you are the reason for your ignorance in your race.. What a shame..

      April 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • no

      @ Tamisha: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Don't make me laugh. White children are not on the street because they watch their parents go to work and make their money every day and then the children,wanting the same thing themselves, go to school and educate themselves. THAT is why white children aren't on the streets. Open your eyes

      April 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. qwedie

    All of the photos are of an 11 or 12 year old. Does anyone have a photo of him at 17? I understand that his Facebook page has more recent photos. CNN could get some photos of him as a baby, then they could call Zimmerman a baby killer. Just to stir things up a bit more!

    April 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. columbus

    Is this case being tried in court or are we going to do it through the media?

    April 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voice of reason

      You'd need to ask the city of Sanford that

      April 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • zstorm

      No this case is not being tried in court and that is the problem. The arrest needs to come first.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Orlando citizen

    The family of vultures who are trying to trademark phrases and make money off their son's death will be very depressed when justice is served and Mr.Zimmerman is not arrested for killing in self defense. That family is horrible, the lack of intelligence was passed down to that kid who confronted an armed man instead of running away like a smart little boy. He is dead and there is one less drain on our oxygen supply. I hope his parents make some money off this so they can continue their drug habits and OD.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ghost of Trayvon

      You're another candidate to free up valuable oxygen. Any time this week would be fine.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      You are sorry excuse for a human being ...

      April 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • cmonmaan

      Be reasonable: Given the ONLY eyewitness account, Zimmerman was on the bottom during a scuffle. But, what isnt clear is if Zimmerman was lying on his back with Trayvons back to his chest, attempting to restrain him or choke him out. Also, I find it interesting that no witness saw the fight begin or end, just one of Zimms neighbors 'claims' to see George being beaten and hear his screams. Thats fine, but this whole encounter lasted less than one minute, but he says he didnt see George attacked or Trayvon shot.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      She is smart to trademark it....look online people ASIDE from her are already profiting off of her sons death. If she was white and had did it you would commend her.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tommy D

    To me, the most important aspect of this case is that Mr. Zimmerman is the cause of the confrontation. I don't understand how the Stand Your Ground Law can be applicable if you are the one inciting the confrontation. If Mr. Zimmerman was just randomly attacked by Trayvon, then this case would be different. Because Mr. Zimmerman ignored the the police dispatchers instructions and sought a confrontation, Stand Your Ground shouldn't apply and he should be charged

    April 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • DevilDriven

      Proof that Zimmerman ignored 911 dispatcher please.. If you don't have it, stop making false comments. Thanks

      April 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • dribble

      You want proof? The kid is dead!

      April 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • MiamiD

      Thank you. Your response was clear and concise. Oh, you are also correct.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • bjennings

      Just because Zimmerman was following Trayvon doesn't mean that he initiated a fight between them. I do not think there is a law about following someone around your neighborhood. If he followed Trayvon but never touched him, then technically he did not initiate anything.

      April 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. edward ryder

    george zimmerman was not attacke. he attacked. he came out with a nine milimeter,he knew what he had in mind.here this big behind man 200 something pounds beat down by a skinny kid 140 pounds and on top of that he has a nine milimeter gun,please..nobodys stupid.if thats the best he could do in a fight he should go to a gym before he tries to be a vigilante.he followed that boy even though the 911 dispatcher told him not to.he had intentions on killing that boy,if you ask me i'd say it was first-degree murder,because he went behind that kid with the intentions of shooting him.all you so-called good christian people who say you believe in the lord jesus christ and read the bible need to start practicing it,and stop the lip profession. the bible says you'll know the tree by the fruit it bears,not by what it says.you people are trying to defend murder,i guess the question would be what would jesus do?no doubt he wouldn't be defending murder or racism.we are all human beings.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Luckily, no one will ask you anything. You write like a two year old. That shift key, which is a fraction of an inch away, is used to capitalize words. Ignoring the horrible grammar, half of what you say doesn't make any sense.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    Just speaking to the analysis that these "EXPERTS" have performed. BS. They want their names on the news. Who knows what these fools REALLY analyzed.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert

    I recall the Tawana Brawley and Duke Lacrosse Team debacles. I specifically remember Bill Cosby standing shoulder to shoulder with Sharpton and Jackson on the Tawana Brawley case. You have not seen much of Mr. Cosby as it relates to issues of this or that kind since. He is smart enough to know that "cooler heads", always prevail.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      They are all liars.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. edward ryder

    you all keep complaining about the killer george zimmerman being tried in the press,if it weren't for the press and social media,this case would have been swept under the rug which they were trying to do until they got caught.thats would theres so many contradictory accounts coming from the zimmerman camp,hes told 5 different stories.what hospital did he go to when his nose was susposedly broke? his nose was never broke.the video of him in the police station clearly shows that.you people are cruel,the way you talk about the victim and his family.remember what goes around comes around.there is a God in heaven nothing gets away.not even your hatred and racism

    April 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      I agree..Zimmerman will have his judgement day and he will l have to take that up with God.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arkie

      Wow!! Edward can tell if a nose is broke or not just from watching a fuzzy video of someone. This is great! He will be the solution to our healthcare crises. Just think of all the money we can save by getting rid of radiologists and x-ray technicians. If I ever think I have a broken bone, I'll just skip the ER visit and send Edward a video so he can diagnose me.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ricksta

    If it wasn't Zimmerman, could they conclude it was Martin?

    April 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marie

    Zimmerman is a sick human being and deserves whatever consequences come his way. I hope justice is sought for the Martin Family soon!

    April 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
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