George Zimmerman defense wins Frye Hearing excluding state voice experts

By Tony Pipitone, Investigative Reporter, tpipitone@clickorlando.com
Published On: Jun 22 2013 10:23:07 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 22 2013 08:08:15 PM EDT

Judge Debra Nelson has ruled the state's voice experts won't be allowed to testify in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

SANFORD, Fla. -

Judge Debra Nelson ruled on Saturday morning the state's voice experts won't be allowed to testify in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

[READ: Ruling issued]

The ruling came following arguments and expert testimony from both sides about whether voice experts could tell who was screaming in the 911 call on the night Trayvon Martin was killed. The arguments happened during a Frye Hearing, which started back on June 8 but had to be carried over Thursday.

The order does not prevent either side from playing the tapes to the jury and having other witnesses who know Martin's and Zimmerman's voice from saying whose voice they hear in the screams. 

But, the judge ruled, the state experts will not be allowed. 

"Reliable comparison of normal speech to the screams in the 911 call is not possible," Nelson wrote, accepting the opinions of four defense experts.

To be admissible under the so-called Frye standards, the techniques applied must be generally accepted in the scientific community. While the judge found the "aural perception and spectral analysis ... are sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance within the scientific community," she took exception to how they were applied in this case.

She said that application to short bursts of screaming in the background of a 911 call is "new and novel. There is no competent evidence that the scientific techniques of (state experts) ... have been tested and found reliable."

Nelson took particular aim at Dr. Alan Reich and "words that he claims to hear," such as Zimmerman saying "this shall be" and Martin saying, "I'm begging you." She notes no other witness claims to hear those words and defense experts called Reich's conclusions "ridiculous."

The defense also argued Reich suffered from "listener bias," reaching conclusions to support his preconceived notions.

"The court finds that Dr. Reich's testimony regarding the amplified tapes would confuse issues, mislead the jury and, therefore, should be excluded from trial," the judge concluded.

Opening statements begin on Monday and will be carried on Local 6 and ClickOrlando.com. Local 6 has learned attorney Don West will do the opening statements for Zimmerman's team.

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