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.”

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