Audio Experts: Cries For “Help” On 911 Tapes Not Zimmerman’s

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

The  chair emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence, Tom Owen, and Ed Primeau, a Michigan-based audio engineer and forensics expert, have independently concluded that the furtive pleas for help clearly heard on the 911 tapes are not George Zimmerman’s. Both acknowledged experts used voice enhancing software, but different techniques, to rate the probability of the voice being Zimmerman’s at no more than 48%.  A 90% match is considered scientifically reliable.

In a report published by the Orlando Sentinel, Owen said he derived his conclusions based on biometric analysis. “It basically just means using personal characteristics for identification. A fingerprint scanner is an example of a biometric device. Much as the ridges of a human hand produce a fingerprint, each human voice has unique, distinguishable traits, Owen says. ‘They’re all particular to the individual.'” The expert recently used the technique to identify the accused killer of Sheila Davalloo in a 911 call made almost a decade ago.

 Owen, who also served as the chief engineer for the New York Public Library’s Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, said that, “as a result of [the testing], you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it’s not Zimmerman.”

Ed Primeau agreed but went further, saying that, under the known circumstances, ” I believe that’s Trayvon Martin in the background, without a doubt. That’s a young man screaming.”  Primeau used the technique of voice enhancement to reach his conclusion. Unlike biometric analysis, his method does require an in-context sample of the voice for testing.

An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer published in 2010 describes the 66-year-old Owen and his cohort, Stuart Allen, this way:

 [The pair have] more than six decades of experience between them in the forensic audio profession. They’ve worked with the FBI and other federal agencies, police departments, private detectives, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and news organizations. Many courts have designated them as expert witnesses. They’re good friends who sometimes are on opposing sides, but respect each other’s abilities. “Both of us are known as sort of contrarians,” Owen said.

Primeau is a former sound engineer in the movie industry who worked with pop stars Anita Baker, Bob Seger, and Barry Manilow.  Primeau has over thirty years of experience in voice identification and is a registered investigator for the American College of Forensic Examiners. He describes his work in voice identification as:

There can sometimes be differences in speech patterns that can help identify clues in your identification puzzle.  I look for several similarities as well as differences, nasal resonance differences, voice tone with regard to inflection both similarities and differences.

The test results seem to present another blow to Zimmerman’s credibility who claimed that it was his voice on the tape —  and not the African-American teen  — heard crying out for help mere seconds before the fatal gun shot.

It is likely that similar audio testing is being conducted by the FBI’s Digital Evidence Laboratory’s Forensic Audio, Video, and Image Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Virginia. Should they reach the same conclusions as Owen and Primeau, Zimmerman would almost certainly face charges in the death. An opposite result would go a long way in substantiating his claim of self-defense.

Source; msnbc; Orland Sentinel; Cleveland Plain Dealer

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

320 thoughts on “Audio Experts: Cries For “Help” On 911 Tapes Not Zimmerman’s”

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  3. Zimmerman IS a young man, 28 years old on the day of the shooting. He certainly doesn’t have a deep voice. These “experts” are using invalid criteria comparing a speaking tone with a desperate cry for help. They also haven’t used Trayvon’s voice for comparison, apparently because his parents haven’t given a sample (which they doubtless must have, but probably don’t want to give for fear of proving that their son is a basso profundo just like his father). Primeau’s own website shows he is anything but unbiased in his assessment of GZ and the case.

  4. Here is the text that I referred to, and which I have been mulling over for several days now. It appeared well before Zimmerman was charged with murder.

    “Zimmerman, who patrolled the Retreat at Twin Lakes development in his own car, had been called aggressive in earlier complaints to the local police and the homeowner’s association, according to a homeowner who spoke on the condition of anonymity.” [I am sure that if I were a homeowner who had made such a complaint against George to the police, I would not want him to know I was now speaking with the media!]

    “At an emergency homeowner’s association meeting on March 1, ‘one man was escorted out because he openly expressed his frustration because he had previously contacted the Sanford Police Department about Zimmerman approaching him and even coming to his home,’ the resident wrote in an email to HuffPost. ‘It was also made known that there had been several complaints about George Zimmerman and his tactics’ in his neighborhood watch captain role.

    “The meeting was attended by Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, the detective assigned to the investigation and an unnamed member of the city council, according to the homeowner’s association newsletter. The chief couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the complaints. A member of the homeowner’s association board, who asked not to be quoted by name, said she “hadn’t heard about any complaints” about Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s phone number is disconnected and efforts to reach him have been unsuccessful.

    “Talk of prior complaints against Zimmerman comes as pressure mounts on law enforcement. Protesters have gathered outside Sanford police headquarters. The Martin’s family and attorneys have held press conferences calling the killing an outrage and pleading for Zimmerman’s arrest. High school classmates and citizens are granting interviews to reporters asking why no one has been charged. And as the story continues to gain national media attention, civil rights leaders, including members of the NAACP and the Rev. Al Sharpton, said they are preparing to join the family of Martin, who was black. Zimmerman is white.”

    ================== =================== ============

    OK, as the developments have come out, and the “evidence of serious injury to Zimmerman” and the Dershowitz outrage that Corey “overcharged” the case and so forth and so on, it almost seems that attention to these details has melted away like fog in late morning.

    Why would that be?

    Because here’s an alternative explanation to the reason George might have called out “Help Help” even though he was not being beaten up:

    1. George’s original plan for the evening of 2/26/2012 was not to protect the community from marauders, but to protect himself from being either kicked out of the Neighborhood Watch or from being sternly informed, by the police, that he was not permitted to “patrol” while armed and dangerous. I think George might have wanted to stage an event on that evening that would have “shown” his chicken-hearted neighbors that he really DID need to carry his gun around to protect them all from the bad guys, and that he should not be restrained.

    2. Since there had been probably some issues with him calling 911, and maybe even he had been told that his many “cry-wolf” calls to 911 were not appreciated, he probably chose to call the non-emergency number on 2/26/2012, to alert them to the “danger” in his neighborhood without really getting them out there to deal with a problem — very quickly.

    3. Note: HE DID NOT IDENTIFY HIMSELF AS A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH VOLUNTEER TO THE DISPATCHER. There were questions about why he didn’t identify himself to Trayvon Martin (by his own admission); the more important question is why he didn’t do so when he called the NEN police line to report a suspicious guy walking around “just looking about.”

    4. Perhaps George’s real goal would have been:

    a. Let the police know there is something possibly bad about to happen;

    b. Report it as a non-emergency so that he has a “report” in the file about the suspicion to be cast upon the target of his action;

    c. Provoke violence from the “suspect” before the police show up so that he, George, has to deal with it himself in order to protect himself and the community; and then

    d. Pull his gun so that he can show that the loaded gun was absolutely necessary to the successful community-protection mission.

    PROBLEM: Trayvon Martin was not a criminal.
    PROBLEM: Trayvon Martin did not go along with the program.
    PROBLEM: Although Chief Lee initially took care of making sure it was listed as self-defense, and although Chief Lee initially also took care of “escorting out” of the Neighborhood Watch any dissenting voice, Chief Lee’s protection and assistance in the game of “SEE WE ALL NEED ME TO BE ARMED AND DANGEROUS AROUND HERE” was quickly neutralized when this case got bigger than Chief Lee was.


    I think George went out that evening with the specific intent to NEED to defend himself.

    This has to do with the SYG laws. It also has to do with the program that is very much backed by the NRA and the ALEC agenda. In other words, if folks like George Zimmerman could, with police backing, prove that they needed to be armed at all times to protect the poor victimized citizens from being harmed, then private corporations’ security people would also need to be armed for the same reason (bye bye union problems) and basically anybody who felt threatened (by what? YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID, THUGS!) could deal with the threats as they needed to in order to establish law and order in our great nation.

    George is still, in his way, a test case for the “I need to be armed at all times to kill those obvious anti-American thugs who want to decrease my power” philosophy backed by the NRA, ALEC, and a certain very active and very numerous segment of our paranoid population.

  5. OH I FORGOT to explain the link-up.

    George calls NEN but does not identify himself as NW volunteer.
    He sets up the idea that TM is dangerous.
    Then he alights to neutralize the danger.
    HE may actually scream HELP HELP HELP to show that just being there won’t work, and that only the GUN saved him, because then he can say, “I was screaming help help but nobody would help me…”

    Thus justifying his use of the gun.

    OTherwise, why not tell the cops, “This is GZ, the NW Captain of The Retreat…”?

  6. Thanks OS

    RE: Cries for Help even if they were George —

    New evidence (really was old, but I never noticed it) shows that someone (Let’s call this person the Neighborhood-AntiZim, or NEBAZ) called the cops to complain about George’s “tactics” well before Trayvon was killed. NEBAZ was “escorted out” of the NW meeting on 3/1/2012 — probably by Chief Bill Lee, who was there doing damage control.

    So I believe George went out on 2/28/2012 looking to provoke SOME incident of “violence” so he could “show” that a gun was needed on patrol.


    It kinda reminds me of the administration before 9/11, trying to justify war…

    Of course, there were people willing to DO HARM on 9/11; Trayvon was not willing to do any violence on 2/26/2012 so the analogy is not a good one with regard to the actual events of that evening in Sanford, but the mindset: “These people have to learn that we really need to kill folks to protect ourselves.”

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  9. Otteray Scribe, here’s what my meditation has been kicking up about the possibilities right now.

    Background: The feds are still investigating the situation. NOT to see whether Zimmerman should be charged or not (and Corey has stolen their fire if they wanted to talk about hate crimes, because she defined the “epithet” as “punks”) but about whether or not there was unlawful conduct going on in Wolfinger’s office or by the police that night and shortly thereafter.

    Theorem: If Zimmerman is convicted, the investigation has to come up with something. Too much attention is focused on it for there to be just a sort of Saturday-Night-Live Rosanne Rosannadanna “NEVERMIND” at the end.

    Two possibilities come to mind right away. I’m sure there are 100 more:

    1. Corey lets her team throw the case and the City Council keeps Lee out of the limelight for a while so the thing can blow over and then, the feds have to say, “We can’t nail anybody for corruption because the acquittal proved the cops’ and Wolfinger’s point that they couldn’t charge Zimmerman simply because he couldn’t be convicted, so the whole thing is now moot and we can go home.” Corey is eventually rewarded for letting herself take a temporary hit — later on, when the light is turned down, and after all, she tried… Lee is then put back as head of the police because in the final analysis, he just did what had to be done that tragic night, when it was so clear to him that it was impossible to convict on the “evidence” they saw. Perhaps there is some misplaced attention focused on the “stand your ground” law and neighborhood watch programs, and finally, everyone is tired and blah blah blah…

    2. Corey doesn’t let her team throw the case, she really means to win, and she does, and she gets a conviction. Then there can either be real serious investigations coming out later about how the cops and Wolfinger and Lee messed up that night, and somebody’s head will roll — perhaps not too far. The gun guys and the corporate guys will rescue whoever falls out of the tipped-over hammock in Sanford, you can be sure of that. If this happens, I think we will be seeing a lot of the evidence that WAS available that night, and that did NOT get in front of the press at all up until this point. But of course, there might not be a trial (Zimmerman might plead to manslaughter in return for a small sentence so that there won’t be a continuing problem in Sanford). Hard to tell. But if that happens, a plea bargain I mean, I will bet that part of the bargain will be a political arrangement so that the feds can close the case without much more real investigation.

    Our habit, unfortunately, as a culture, is to say that things are either moot or no longer an issue.

    Cowardice. We will not self-correct.

  10. You know, recently there has been a sort of trend on the threads about the State v. Zimmerman case, and that trend has been to criticize those of us who believe that Zimmerman was wrong and culpable and criminally responsible for killing Martin as if we were not allowed to really think that. As if there was some fundamental flaw to our believing that at all, as if we were not allowed to form an opinion about it “before the evidence is in.” That’s just ridiculous. We are allowed to form our opinion on it. We’re not lynching anybody; we’re not prejudiced against anybody; we have our opinions and obviously we cannot be expected to be impartial for the very reason that we HAVE OUR OPINIONS on it. But there is nothing at all inherently wrong with our believing that Zimmerman was wrong and culpable and criminally responsible for killing Martin. There WOULD BE something wrong with our thinking that and hiding that opinion and serving on a jury. There WOULD BE something wrong with our actually lynching Zimmerman, obviously. There WOULD BE something wrong with our trying to bribe some judge or public official to act on our belief instead of following the law that the State of Florida had already set out for use in a case like this. But should we all pretend not to believe what we firmly believe? Why? Because there are those who have the opposite belief and who want to characterize our belief as inherently wrongful?

    By the way, before the Eichmann trial, I had decided he was guilty of whatever was charged, no matter what was charged. So I would not have sat on his jury, even if I were an Israeli and by Israeli law I would be entitled to do so. I hadn’t decided on OJ’s guilt before his trial because I had never heard of him, didn’t know anything about the “car chase” in the white van, and only heard abuot the whole thing when it was well underway. I had no real opinion about Casey Anthony’s guilt or innocence, but I thought the prosecutor did not have enough valid evidence to convict her for murder, so I would have acquitted her if I were on that jury. (Again, I was not a Floridian.) I have read cases where the prosecutors hid exculpatory evidence and gained a conviction that way; where they had “jailhouse informants” who were so obviously lying that it was a joke; where they played upon jury prejudice and rage to convict when there was no real evidence and even when the grand jury presentations were corrupt. It happens. Our system is seriously, SERIOUSLY flawed. And I’m more often defense-aligned than prosecution-aligned. But now I believe in the guilt of the defendant and I’m not the least big ashamed of that fact.

    I remember some TV interview where the interviewer asked Joe Lieberman (while he wa ons the presidential ticket in 1999): “People are saying you’re the most liberal Democrat in the Senate; is that true?” Lieberman reacted as if you had asked him, “Is it true that you’re the worst person on earth?” He vociferously denied that he was the most liberal Senator. I asked myself, then, “Why did he act like he had been insulted?” Of course, that was before he changed his spots.

    But the word “liberal” has been used with disdain and contempt for a long time as if it is per se wrong to be liberal, and therefore to admit to being liberal, and blah blah blah. Well, that kind of reminds me of what is going on with folks trying to make other folks defend themselves against charges that they have already decided on Zimmerman’s guilt. You know something, I have already decided on Zimmerman’s guilt. Since I am not swearing on oath to judge him impartially as a decider of fact in a court of law, that’s my perfect right. Oh, and I’m also a liberal.

  11. Yeah, we’re living in an armed society where people are “protecting their own” even when they don’t own it.

    Look out.

  12. Another WTF moment and a twist on “Show us your papers, please.”:

    “The couple did not have their closing papers with them, and could not prove that they owned the home.”

    “A Georgia couple who were trying to move into their new home were confronted by neighbors at gunpoint before they were then arrested and held overnight in jail.

    Jean-Joseph and Angelica Kalonji said they were told by their real estate agent to go to their new home in Newton County and change the locks. Their son had just purchased the home, and the entire family was slated to move in.

    But when they arrived and tried to enter, two neighbors, Robert Canoles and his 18-year-old son, Branden, snuck up behind the Kalonjis with semiautomatic weapons.

    “He [said] to put the hands up and get out from the house, otherwise he would shoot us,” Jean Kalonji, who hails from the Congo, told a local television station.

    The Kalonjis said they were held by the gunmen for 10 minutes with their hands above heir heads, and that they thought they were being robbed.

    The couple did not have their closing papers with them, and could not prove that they owned the home. When deputies arrived, they arrested the Kalonjis and charged them with loitering and prowling.

    The sheriff’s deputies who arrived at the scene commended the two neighbors for their response.
    “The police told me I did a good job,” said the elder Canoles. He said deputies did not question him on the night of the incident.

    But the gun-toting father and son were arrested Monday night and have been charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal trespassing. “We are on the ground flood with this as far looking into exactly what occurred and why it occurred,” a sheriff’s spokesman said.

    On Monday, the Kalonjis met with their attorney, as well as with the sheriff’s office. “They just spontaneously arrested him, arrested his wife, threw them in the jail, made no phone calls, made no efforts to verify to the truthfulness of what they were saying and told the people with the guns, in essence, ‘Thank you for your good service, you can go back home now,'” the Kalonji’s attorney said to WSBTV.

    But the Kalonjis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they have reservations about the new home. “We’re waiting to move,” their son Bruno said. “We’re still afraid of what the guy next door might do.”

  13. Oh, and “have I ever served on a felony case jury” — no. But if I was asked to do so, I would answer questions honestly during voir dire. And I would probably write a song about it afterwards. Maybe one called:

    Justice Justice, how much can you buy?
    Oh Your Honor, let me try!
    Two for the lawyers, one for the press,
    And ten for the judges who have made this mess!

    (Smiley face, little music note)

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