Judge blocks audio expert testimony in Trayvon Martin case

George Zimmerman stands as the judge leaves the courtroom as jury selection continues in his second-degree murder trial. Credit: Reuters
George Zimmerman stands as the judge leaves the courtroom as jury selection continues in his second-degree murder trial.
Credit: Reuters

The judge in the George Zimmerman trial has ruled that two voice identification experts who suggested that unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin screamed for help before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman will not be allowed to testify at the trial.

The ruling by Judge Debra Nelson was released on Saturday. It was the last major hurdle before opening statements in the high-profile trial begin on Monday in Seminole County courthouse in Sanford, Florida.

Prosecutors had sought to call audio experts to testify about a 911 emergency call in which screams for help can be heard in the background during an altercation between Zimmerman and Martin before the shooting.

In her 12-page order, Nelson said the decision does not prevent either side from playing the 911 tape and presenting witnesses familiar with Zimmerman’s and Martin’s voices from stating their opinions.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman followed and confronted Martin despite a police dispatcher telling him not to pursue the 17-year-old. Zimmerman, 29, has said the two fought and that he shot Martin because he feared for his life.

An all-female jury will decide whether Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder, a charge that carries a potential life sentence. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty.

Two state experts, in what they qualify as tentative or probable findings because of the poor quality of the recording, have said that the chilling screams heard in the background came from Martin.

The screams could be pivotal evidence and help identify who was the aggressor on the night of the February 2012 killing. Zimmerman’s family and supporters claim the voice was his, while Martin’s parents insist the voice belonged to their son.

Last year, an FBI expert said a voice analysis of the call was inconclusive.

Lawyers for Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, sought to block the testimony on grounds that the methods used by the state’s voice recognition experts were based on questionable science.

Audio experts who testified for the defense in a lengthy pre-trial hearing argued that voice recognition techniques cannot identify an individual from screams made under extreme duress.

On Friday, the judge also dismissed a defense motion to bar certain words and phrases from the prosecution’s opening statement.

She ruled prosecutors could allege that Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, “profiled” Martin but ordered them not to use the term “racial profiling.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.