The voice crying for help in the background of a 911 call moments before the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was not that of shooter George Zimmerman, experts in voice identification tell the Orland Sentinel.
Tom Owen, forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services, used voice identification software to rule out Zimmerman, the Sentinel says. Another expert utilizing different techniques came to the same conclusion, the Sentinel reports.
A woman called 911 to report someone crying out for help in her gated Florida community in Sanford on Feb. 26. Moments later, Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, shot Trayvon during a one-on-one confrontation.
Zimmerman claims self-defense in the shooting and told police he was the one screaming for help.
Owen is a court-qualified expert witness and former chief engineer for the New York Public Library's Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound. He is an authority on biometric voice analysis — a computerized process comparing attributes of voices to determine whether they match.
After the Sentinel contacted Owen, he used software called Easy Voice Biometrics to compare Zimmerman's voice to the 911 call screams.
"I took all of the screams and put those together, and cut out everything else," Owen says. The software compared that audio to Zimmerman's voice. It returned a 48% match. Owen said to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he'd expect higher than 90%.
Owen toldt he Sentinel that he can't confirm the voice as Trayvon's, because he didn't have a sample of the teen's voice to compare.
Not all experts rely on biometrics. Ed Primeau, a Michigan-based audio engineer and forensics expert, relies instead on audio enhancement and human analysis based on forensic experience. After listening closely to the 911 tape, Primeau also has a strong opinion.
"I believe that's Trayvon Martin in the background, without a doubt," Primeau says, stressing that the tone of the voice is a giveaway. "That's a young man screaming."