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Jurors in Zimmerman Trial Hear Testimony from Voice Expert, Sanford Police

July 1, 2013 | WMFE - Jurors in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial heard testimony Monday from the first investigator to interview him after he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last February. Prosecutors played a recording of that interview, which took place just a few hours after the shooting.

[Image: George Zimmerman during trial. Courtesy of pool photographer Joe Burbank of the Orlando Sentinel]

During the interview, George Zimmerman gave Sanford Police investigator Doris Singleton a vivid recounting of his version of events. Zimmerman said he called police to report the teen as suspicious, and he was returning to his car after finding a street address to give when Martin jumped out and punched him to the ground.

“I slid into the grass to try and get out from under him, and so that he would stop hitting my head into the sidewalk, and I’m still yelling for help, and I could see people looking, and some guy yells out, ‘I’m calling 911,’ and I said, ‘Help me, help me, he’s killing me,’ and he puts his hand on my nose and on my mouth and says, ‘You’re gonna die tonight,’” Zimmerman said on the tape. 

On cross examination, defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked Officer Singleton if during the interview Zimmerman displayed any anger, ill will, or hatred, requirements listed in Florida's statute describing second-degree murder. Singleton said no.

Earlier Monday morning, the second week of testimony got underway with a surprise, as state attorneys called to the stand an expert witness who testified in pre-trial hearings for the defense. 

FBI voice analysis expert Hirotaka Nakasone told prosecutors science couldn't help identify who was yelling for help in the background of a 911 call made by a neighbor the night during the altercation between Zimmerman and Martin. Nakasone said people's voices change pitch under stress and that the amount of usable audio from the 911 call was too short to determine whether the voice belonged to Martin or Zimmerman. 

Nakasone agreed with defense attorney Don West's explanation of why he didn't even try to determine the age of the person who cried for help – because, West said, “to do so would be a fool's errand, that you can't come up with a reliable scientific opinion because it's screaming. Someone screaming for their life." 

"Yes,” Nakasone replied, “that's my opinion of the consensus."

Similar testimony from Nakasone in a pretrial hearing helped Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson decide not to allow two state experts to testify they thought it was Martin yelling on the tape.

On Monday, Nakasone said people who know Zimmerman and Martin may be best equipped to identify the voices in this case, as opposed to scientific methods. Members of George Zimmerman’s family have said it was Zimmerman calling for help in the background of the 911 call. But members of Martin’s family have said the voice belonged to Martin. 

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self defense.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled and murdered Trayvon Martin.



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