“State audio experts ID Trayvon’s voice in screams,” reads the much too hopeful headline in a May 14 Orlando Sentinel article.
Trayvon, of course, is Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black youth shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla.
The screams in question were picked up on a 911 call from one of the neighbors. They last for 42 seconds. The person on the tape yells “help” over and over. No one can deny the fear and desperation in his voice.
Those screams are George Zimmerman’s. The Sanford Police Department knew it within hours of the shooting and, knowing this, refrained from arresting Zimmerman.
The state prosecutors know it, too. They charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder despite what they knew. In a desperate effort to save face in next month’s trial, they have contracted for some bogus science to bolster an otherwise unwinnable case.
The one team of voice analysts told the state that the voice samples “were not good enough to definitively match either Trayvon or Zimmerman.”
According to these analysts, “Some of the first eight came close to matching Trayvon’s voice,” but others “came close to matching Zimmerman’s.” That was helpful.
The other forensic analyst, Alan Reich by name, wrote that he “believed” the cries came from the younger of the two male speakers due to the “resonant frequency” of the vowel in the last scream.
A year ago, Reich told the Washington Post with a bit more assurance, “The help cries are all Trayvon.” This was nonsense then, and it is nonsense now.
The best refutation of this comes from Zimmerman himself. Just a few hours after the shooting, while at the Sanford police station, he wrote in longhand an account of the incident.
“The dispatcher told me not to follow the suspect & that an officer was on the way,” Zimmerman wrote. “As I headed back to my vehicle the suspect emerged from the darkness and said, ‘You got a problem?'” When Zimmerman answered “No,” the suspect said, “You do now.”
What follows is Zimmerman’s account of the screaming, written long before he knew what the eyewitnesses would report:
As I looked and tried to find my phone to dial 911 the suspect punched me in the face. I fell backwards onto my back. The suspect got on top of me. I yelled “Help” several times. The suspect told me, “Shut the f*** up.”
As I tried to sit upright, the suspect grabbed my head and slammed it into the concrete sidewalk several times. I continued to yell “Help.”
Each time I attempted to sit up, the suspect slammed my head into the sidewalk. My head felt like it was going to explode. I tried to slide out from under the suspect and continue to yell “Help.”
Witness No. 6, the best of the eyewitnesses, had talked on camera to the local TV station the day after the shooting and told the reporter what he told the Sanford PD the night before.
According to this witness, there was a “black man in a black hoodie on top of either a white guy … or an Hispanic guy in a red sweater on the ground yelling out help,” and that black man on top was “throwing down blows on the guy MMA [mixed martial arts] style.”
Zimmerman’s broken nose and bloodied head added dramatic confirmation of his and Witness No. 6’s version of events.
The prosecutors knew all of this, and they were obliged to incorporate it into the affidavit for Zimmerman’s arrest on second-degree murder charges in April 2012. They did not.
A day later, America’s pre-eminent defense lawyer, Harvard Law’s Alan Dershowitz, took notice. “It’s irresponsible and unethical in not including the material that favors the defendant,” he told an MSNBC audience that was not happy to be hearing this from a liberal jurist like Dershowitz. “You must put that in the affidavit.”
The state prosecutors were under the enormous pressure generated by the legal/public relations team working ostensibly for Martin’s parents.
A few weeks before Zimmerman’s arrest, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump produced a chimerical phone witness who seemed to confirm the family’s belief that Zimmerman stalked Martin and shot him.
“Logically, it makes sense that Trayvon Martin was the voice you heard crying on that tape,” Crump insisted at a game-changing March 20 press conference.
As to why those screams should be Martin’s, Crump would have been better off saying nothing. Instead, he volunteered, in his reliably mangled syntax, “You can conclude who is the person crying out for help presumably when they see a gun.”
Crump wanted the media to believe that Zimmerman chased the fitter and fleeter Martin down, held him at gunpoint, caused him to wail like a banshee for 42 seconds at the sight of the gun, and then shot him down “in cold blood” knowing the police – whom Zimmerman himself had summoned – were minutes away.
The state prosecutors ignored the Sanford PD and yielded to the pressure generated by Team Trayvon. According to the arrest affidavit, “Zimmerman disregarded the dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return home.”
In this version, “Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.” Trayvon’s mother then “identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin’s.” Zimmerman admitted shooting Martin, and that apparently was good enough for the prosecutors to charge Zimmerman with second-degree murder.
In another move last week, the prosecutors sought to have all of Martin’s damning disciplinary history and troubling social media commentary excluded from the trial.
To convict an innocent man of murder, the prosecutors will have to deny him a fair trial. Apparently, they are prepared to do just that.
Jack Cashill’s book on this case, “If I Had A Son,” will be available soon after the trial.