Chuck Rudd of The Daily Caller quotes a couple of voice matching experts who are deeply skeptical of the matches claimed by the Orlando Sentinel experts in the Zimmerman/Martin shooting. He also gets some "don't quote me by name" cheap shots from other experts and one for the laugh track from the Sentinel's expert, Tom Owen.
Dr. James Wayman, a San Jose State University expert in the field of speech science, told The Daily Caller that he questions the grounds on which Owen based his analysis.
Wayman also said he would be willing to testify against the admissibility of Owen’s findings on the grounds that they don’t meet the criteria required for evidence in federal courts.
“There is no history of, or data on, the comparison of a questioned scream to a known speech sample,” Wayman said.
The problem, he said, is that the two voice samples were recorded in difficult acoustic conditions over different cell phones.
“Even if we were to have Mr. Zimmerman recreate the scream under identical conditions with the same cell phone,” Wayman explained, “it would be difficult to attribute the scream to him without a sample of a similar scream from Mr. Martin under the same conditions. This is clearly not possible.”
The laugher from Tom Owen is this:
Reached for comment, Owen told TheDC that he has conducted his own study — “The Owen Study” — of more than 400 different pitches, screams, and voice disguises. The study is unpublished.
Strong stuff! It won't be admissible in court, but we will keep it in mind.
The DC lets us down at the close:
One voice authentication expert whose work is commercial in nature told TheDC that screaming, stress, and a recording’s audio quality can “wreak havoc” on voice biometric software and its ability to interpret data.
And speaking of Owen’s findings, another industry insider said that “a legitimate biometrics expert would likely refute the contentions” and suggests that these were “incendiary publicity plays.”
Meow! But the DC should have noted this March 8 2012 press release rolling out Tom Owens new software. And it can be yours for $4,995! Any speculation as to whether this was a cheap publicity stunt would be answered, or at least, enhanced to a scientific certainty.
Geez - muckrakers these days...
Still, Mr. Rudd managed to talk to a few experts, some on the record - with this old post, all I did was find some websites of experts explaining their requirements and noting the implausibility of matching speech to screams.
AND JUST ONE MORE THING: CNN aired a new interview with the same witness who basically told Anderson Cooper last week that it was too dark for her to see anything. In the new interview she saw a great deal, and turns out to be the 911 caller who recorded the gunshot. The witness insists she heard a young man screaming. Ms. Cutcher says the same thing ("“It sounded young. It didn’t sound like a grown man is my point"), as does Ed Primeau, the Orlando Sentinel's other expert (remember, the one who matched the scream to Martin's voice without ever having heard Martin's voice - he said it was a young man screaming, as if the 17 year old 6'3" Martin's voice hadn't changed.)
At this recent post in an update marked INGENIOUS I laud the, well, ingenious suggestion of a commenter who reminded us that a 13 year old boy was watching much of the scene from 20 yards away and got on the phone with a 911 dispatcher afterwards. The notion - the kid was screaming and didn't even realize it, or has blocked what would be a terrifying memory. He says he missed part of the final scene because his dog ran off, but that psychological symbolism is transparent.
Well - if we ever reach the point where this scream testimony is relevant inside a courtroom the prosecution need to plan for the likelihood that the defense will raise this third screamer as a possibility. The prosecution will then need to explain that it is not reasonable to believe that a terrified thirteen year old could be mistaken about whether he screamed or not. Good luck. Maybe Martin, Zimmerman and the kid were all screaming - I don't think the audio experts are going to sort this out.
SO WHO IS LARGER: Great courtroom moments to come:
"I know it was very dark, but I really would have to say that I thought it was the larger person on top," the witness said, referring to the heavier build of Zimmerman.
Craig Sonner, another Zimmerman attorney, questioned how the witness could determine the identities of those on the ground at that time of night and from her vantage point.
"I think it was dark, and I don't think she's sure what she saw," Sonner said.
Well, it was dark, Martin was in a hoody which is probably baggy, so riddle us this - who looks bigger, the 6'3" 150 pound guy, or the 5'9" 170 pound guy?