Trayvon Martin case: Conflicting evidence emerges

There's been more detailed evidence about the night when George Zimmerman killed teen Trayvon Martin. But regarding the two major scenarios – that Zimmerman acted in self-defense or that Martin was the deadly victim of racial profiling – the picture remains as murky as ever.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Demonstrators hold signs aloft during a march and rally for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, Saturday. Sanford is the Florida town where Trayvon Martin was shot dead on February 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

As the days and weeks pass since neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed black teenager Trayvon Martin, detailed evidence of what happened that rainy night in Sanford, Fla., continues to emerge.

But to the frustration of those supporting the two major scenarios – that Zimmerman acted in self-defense or that Martin was the deadly victim of racial profiling – the picture remains as murky as ever.

Video showing a handcuffed Zimmerman emerging from a police car and being escorted to an interrogation room at first seemed to rebut his contention that he’d been bloodied when Martin attacked him, punching him in the nose and banging his head on the concrete sidewalk. There appeared to be no signs of such injuries.

But on closer examination, the video shows a police officer inspecting the back of Zimmerman’s head where there does appear to be a wound. This would track with the report of the first police officer on the scene, who noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and back of his head.

Meanwhile, two experts now say that voice analysis of 911 emergency calls made in the last seconds of Martin’s life indicates that likely it was the teenager – not Zimmerman, as his family contends – who cried out for help.

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper reported Saturday that experts it contacted could not confirm that it was Martin’s cry because they had no sample of the teen’s voice to compare.

But using a sample of Zimmerman’s voice, they confidently eliminated Zimmerman as the one crying out in distress.

“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,” the newspaper reported. “Another expert contacted by the Sentinel, utilizing different techniques, came to the same conclusion.”

Using software called Easy Voice Biometrics, Mr. Owen compared Zimmerman's voice to the 911 call screams.

The software returned a 48 percent match, the newspaper reported – far less than the 90 percent positive match that would be expected with audio of that quality.

"As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman," Owen said.

Ed Primeau, a Michigan-based audio engineer and forensics expert, relied on audio enhancement and human analysis based on forensic experience to come to the same conclusion.

"I believe that's Trayvon Martin in the background, without a doubt," Primeau told the Orlando Sentinel, stressing that the tone of the voice is a giveaway. "That's a young man screaming."

Martin’s death has brought daily protests and rallies around the country.

Some pastors and congregants wore “hoodie” sweatshirts during Palm Sunday services, a symbol of solidarity with Martin, who was wearing the popular garment when he was killed. A large rally was expected in Miami Sunday afternoon – a day when religious and civil rights leaders also were taking note of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., which occurred 44 years ago this coming Wednesday.

CNN reported Sunday that Trayvon Martin’s parents will ask the US Justice Department to review a local Florida prosecutor's interactions with police investigating the teen's shooting death.

“The Justice Department launched an investigation into Martin's death on March 19, but the family is now asking it to look for possible interference by State's Attorney Norm Wolfinger's office with Sanford, Florida, Police Detective Chris Serino, attorney Ben Crump said,” according to CNN. “The Martin family will send a formal request to the Justice Department Monday.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.