Tag: Expert witness

I Heard That

Good (warning: auto-play audio at that link):

In a major victory for murder suspect George Zimmerman, a judge Saturday ruled that prosecutors may not put on the witness stand two state audio experts who say the voice heard screaming for help on a 911 call was someone other than Zimmerman.

Those screams, recorded while Zimmerman was fighting with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, are the most dramatic piece of evidence in the high-profile murder case.

Zimmerman, a former Neighborhood Watch volunteer, says they came from him, that he was calling for help after Trayvon attacked him. Trayvon’s parents say they are from their son and are his last words before Zimmerman shot him in the chest.

Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson had heard three days of testimony about the science used by the state’s experts. On Saturday she ruled that it failed to meet Florida’s legal standard.

Jurors can expect prosecutors to still play the audio. They’ll also likely hear testimony from Trayvon’s mother and perhaps father that the screams came from their son. Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., has testified that the voice is his son’s.

Four other experts testified that what these guys are doing is pseudo-scientific bullshit. Since the Zimmerman case surfaced, “audio experts” have been crawling out of the woodwork, making wild claims about racial epithets, prayers and screams heard on phone calls. None of its has crossed me as remotely scientific or accurate. And I’m glad the judge saw through this.

Bullshit forensic testimony is a big problem in the US courts. Some time ago I blogged about the Cameron Todd Willingham case, where a man was convicted and executed for a triple arson murder based on forensic evidence that was slightly more accurate than waving voodoo rattles over the ashes. Radley Balko has written extensively about the completely bogus “bite mark” analysis that was used in many cases in Mississippi. During the Satanic Cult panic of the 80’s and 90’s, we saw many “occult experts” give testimony that was completely made up. One of these “experts” played a key role in the conviction of the West Memphis Three.

Let the jury decide if they hear anything significant on the tapes. I see no reason why some idiot with a computer and a persuasive voice should be allowed to present himself to the jury as an “expert” when he clearly isn’t.