Observers of the opening of the case against George Zimmerman routinely note that their views are based on the publicly available information. The general presumption is that the prosecutor has more, including high tech forensics reports, that may put Zimmerman's self-defense claim in a new light.
But what if this is as good as it gets? Today's Miami Herald is, well, surprising:
Corey declined to discuss in detail how the investigation was carried out, but her statements shed some light on how the prosecution team reached the decision on a second-degree murder charge. She said the decision was made last week, and prosecutors used the arrest warrant an investigator had sought early in the case.
Her investigators made several trips to the scene of the shooting, retrieving evidence from Sanford police and re-interviewing witnesses in the neighborhood.
“A lot of the witnesses had already made statements in public even before we took over the case,” she said. “A thorough review of all of the statements was done.”
Last month, Corey told The Herald that her investigators would be looking at a wide range of evidence, including the gun used by Zimmerman and the clothes he was wearing the night of the shooting. She said 911 tapes — in which someone is heard screaming for help before the fatal gunshot — would be “critical” and would be analyzed.
The Sanford Police and Zimmerman’s former attorneys had said that when all the evidence was made public — including unedited 911 calls — the decision to release Zimmerman after the shooting would be better understood. But Corey apparently found enough evidence to believe the state’s Stand Your Ground law did not apply in this case.
“If Stand Your Ground becomes an issue, we fight it,” she said.
The case can't be this complicated. The local police and DA weren't prepared to press charges; Ms. Corey is. The non-exclusive explanations of that fact include:
(a) she developed new information from witnesses;
(b) she finally got back some lab work that broke Zimmerman's story;
(c) the Sanford PD and DA were incompetent or overly cautious in their charging decision.
The Miami Herald is not describing breakthrough witnesses, breakthrough lab work, or poor performance in Sanford. So what shifted, other than the political winds?
And do my eyes deceive me, or did the Miami Herald report that the 911 tapes with background screaming were "critical" and "would be" analyzed? "Would be"? As in, it hasn't happened yet?
I may be the wrong guy to ask, but I don't think any voice analysis will survive admissibility standards (Frye in Florida state trials, Daubert otherwise.) And all these experts, including two quoted in the Orlando Sentinel, will have to talk their way past their own websites to get that "analysis" in - matching screams to speech is just not standard accepted, reviewed science.
And speaking of science, the Daily Caller tackled that point with forensic audiologist Tom Oewn, who claims to be able to match the 911 screams to either Zimmerman or Martin (or, of course, the 13 year old bystander):
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.
That is not the decisive evidence we are looking for. But let's promote Mr. Owen's new software for him, shall we? Cui bono, and Cui LOL?
Look, if a lab report came back four weeks after the shooting demonstrating a complete absence of powder residue on Martin's clothing and insisting the two men must have been at least, say, ten feet apart to explain that result, then fine - the Sanford PD didn't have that test and Ms. Corey does.
But it sounds like what we have seen is a lot like what we are going to get. Yike.
PROCEDURAL GAMES: The defense will be entitled to the discovery process by which they see the prosecution case. Maybe Ms. Corey wants to delay some lab work or voice analysis, just to keep the defense guessing - does the defense take a plea deal now or gamble on a potentially decisive lab test not currently available to either side?
I don't know if that is ethical, but I also don't know if ethical concerns are at the top of Ms. Corey's list just now. But I do know the day is not long enough for a catalog of my ignorance...