Screams on 911 Call Are Not Zimmerman’s, Forensic Expert Says

Screams on 911 Call Are Not Zimmerman’s, Forensic Expert Says

A leading expert in voice analysis debunks assertion by Trayvon Martin’s shooter that he was the one screaming for help.

Published April 1, 2012

As the protests calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman continued over the weekend, a leading expert in voice identification said that the voice crying for help in a 911 call was not that of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Marton.

Zimmerman has maintained that he was accosted by the unarmed teenager and that he shot Trayvon in self-defense. In a 911 call from a neighbor during the altercation between Trayvon and Zimmerman, there are audible cries for help. Zimmerman has insisted that it was he, and not the teenager, who was crying for help.

But Thomas J. Owen, a forensic consultant with Owen Forensic Services, said that, based on comparisons with Zimmerman’s voice in calls he made to the police department in Sanford, Florida, and recordings from the other 911 caller, the shooter was not the one calling for help.

“The analysis that we did showed that the voice on the recording was not Zimmerman,” Owen said in an interview with “I can’t say that it was Trayvon’s voice because I don’t have a recording of Trayvon’s voice.”

Owen said that he used the same voice identification method, called “biometric analysis,” that is used by the CIA and FBI.

“I used the police recordings of Zimmerman where he introduced himself in the call to the police,” said Owen, who is also chairman emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence. “And I also used the 911 recording where there is the screaming. I took those calls and removed all the other sounds from them.  With the screaming call, I took out all the other sounds, except for the person who was asking for help and screaming. The technology allows us to cut everything else out.”

Owen added that since his analysis became public he has received disparaging emails from several people. "This event has brought out the best and the worst in people," he said.

Martin was killed a month ago while walking through a gated community in a suburb of Orlando. He was carrying a package of Skittles candy, a can of iced tea and a cell phone. Zimmerman called the police, saying that the teenager looked suspicious. However, the police asked him not to follow the teenager. Zimmerman has not been arrested.

In an interview with, Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon's parents, said the analysis of the recordings provides another piece of evidence that should lead officials to arrest Zimmerman.

“This is real clear. Trayvon’s mother said from the first time she heard that 911 recording, she knew it was her son,” Crump said.


“The tape analysis only confirms that the police have all the evidence they need to arrest George Zimmerman. And, now, here is another piece of evidence that contradicts his assertion of self-defense. He needs to be arrested immediately.”

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(Photo: AP/File)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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