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Forensic Experts Say Screams Were Not Zimmerman's

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the hearing-is-believing dept.

Crime 1046

Hugh Pickens writes "As the Trayvon Martin controversy splinters into a debate about self-defense, a central question remains: Who was heard crying for help on a 911 call in the moments before the teen was shot? Now the Orlando Sentinel reports that Tom Owen, a leading expert in the field of forensic voice identification sought to answer that question by analyzing the recordings. His result: It was not George Zimmerman who called for help. Owen, forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services LLC and chair emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence, used voice identification software to rule out Zimmerman. Another expert contacted by the Sentinel, utilizing different techniques, came to the same conclusion. Owen used software called Easy Voice Biometrics to compare Zimmerman's voice to the 911 call screams. 'I took all of the screams and put those together, and cut out everything else,' says Owen. The software compared that audio to Zimmerman's voice and returned a 48 percent match. Owen says to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he'd expect higher than 90 percent. Owen cannot confirm the voice as Trayvon's, because he didn't have a sample of the teen's voice to compare however 'you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman.'"

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So what? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542105)

I'm not sure if I could care less about this case. Also, some "expert" trying to promote himself doesn't belong on "news for nerds".

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542201)

At least he's done more then the police have done in this case.

Re:So what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542223)

What makes you think the police haven't already done this and found the results inconclusive.

You tards are so ready to believe.

Re:So what? (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542411)

The fact that the DA's office is standing on a ludicrous interpretation of the stand your ground law as an excuse to not press charges even though the well established facts of the case practically demand a trial.

Just to add insult, a bunch of people actually believe the crap excuse and so are campaigning to repeal stand your ground rather than finding out why the DA hates black people (or loves Zimmerman).

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542451)

The worst part about this is that the DA office doesn't seem to understand that "Stand Your Ground" is just an affirmative defense against a crime, not a magic spell that means someone can't be arrested.

Re:So what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542523)

No there are other laws in florida that stop the police from just arresting you because someone thinks someone should go to jail.

Re:So what? (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542625)

The police could use their time-honored tactic of arresting you for resisting arrest to bring him in anytime.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542541)

Just to add insult, a bunch of people actually believe the crap . . .

. . . in your post.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Troyusrex (2446430) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542549)

There aren't "well established facts" in this case. At least not that are known to the general public. Cases tried in the media tend to be enormously biased because they are about generating interest not about reliable evidence. For instance, was Zimmerman's nose broken and the back of his head injured or not? We don't know but such evidence would obviously make a big difference in the case.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542607)

How is it ludicrous? The story that Zimmerman tells is a legitimate use case of the SYG laws and the police do not have any evidence to the contrary that the event didn't happen the way he said it did.

That's how probable cause works. You can't just arrest somebody willy nilly.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542261)

I'm more concerned that someone under the presumption of innocence is instead being tried in the court of public opinion, which obeys no law and follows no procedure. Regardless of the facts of the matter, I would almost rather have my day in court and be acquitted than have my life torn to pieces in a three-ring media circus.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542291)

If only the guy who shot another person without witnesses would have been actually *investigated*, instead of letting him walk entirely on his own testimony...

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542595)

I agree.

Is it self defence if I am breaking into someone's else home, they grab a knife and "attack" me and I shoot them as I fear for my life?
Clearly no. The homeowner has the right to defend themselves from the instigator.

Is it self defence if I stalk someone walking down the road and they "attack" me and I shoot them as I fear for my life?
Or let's ask it backwards.
If I am walking down the street minding my own business and I am followed and stalked by another are they allowed to kill me when I defend myself?
EVEN if Zimmerman found himself defending himself he should still be investigated as evidence indicates that he is defending himself from an event he initiated.

Trayvon, per mobile conversation with his girlfriend:

""He says: 'Oh, he's right behind me. He's right behind me again,'" Crump said the girl told him. "She says: 'Run.' He says: 'I'm not going to run, I'm just going to walk fast.'

She then heard Martin saying "Why are you following me""

Florida stalking law arguably shows that Trayvon was being stalked. Easily as arguable as the "stand your ground" arguement. And that would mean that he was killed by someone in the commision of a crime.

"FLORIDA

Section 784.048. STALKING; DEFINITIONS; PENALTIES. 1997.

(1) As used in this section, the term:

(a) "Harass" means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.

(b) "Course of conduct" means a pattern a conduct composed of series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct." Such constitutionally protected activity includes picketing or other organized protests.

(c) "Credible threat" means a threat made with the intent to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety. The threat must be against the life of, or a threat to cause bodily injury to, a person."

Re:So what? (2)

Collapsing Empire (1268240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542639)

Erm, the case *is* being investigated. For one thing, he was taken into custody for questioning the night of the incident. I also believe that local officials actually tried to present this case to a prosecutor and was denied due to lack of evidence. Now work is being done to present this case to a grand jury. How can you say that there is no investigation?

It's amazing how much misinformation is being spread out there that is fueling a lot of pointless emotions.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542325)

As opposed to being presumed innocent while in the process of being shot?

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542333)

I agree, he shouldn't be facing the court of public opinion. He should be facing the court of law. It certainly doesn't look like that is happening.

Re:So what? (5, Informative)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542509)

I agree, he shouldn't be facing the court of public opinion. He should be facing the court of law. It certainly doesn't look like that is happening.

It looks increasingly likely that he will face a jury. And when he does, the jury will likely be informed of Fla. Stats. 776.041 [state.fl.us] , which states:

776.041âfUse of force by aggressor.â"The justification [of self defense] described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
(1)âfIs attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
(2)âfInitially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
(a)âfSuch force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b)âfIn good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

To be brutally honest, I think both his attackers and his defenders sound very silly to me in making bold statements before the facts are in. The prudent thing to do is to simply say that we are not going to condemn him or exonerate him until the process plays out and renders a verdict.

[ Note, I'm not saying that everyone must accept the results of the process -- just because it's the legal result doesn't mean we have to personally believe it. But there is a difference between disagreeing with the result after it happens and jumping to your own conclusion before it has been conducted. The former seems to me reasonable, the latter not so much. ]

Re:So what? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542543)

I think the DA would be doing Zimmerman a favor if they tried him now. It'd take the heat off, the evidence could get presented, he'd be exonerated in court and this shit would be over. As it is he's going to be stalked by the media the rest of his life.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542593)

No, the people against him have already made up their minds. They would simply call the court a kangaroo court and continue persecuting the guy.

The Mob does not care about facts unless they support the opinion they already have and evidence to the contrary is ignored.

Re:So what? (0)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542339)

This would easily be solved by law enforcement arresting and charging him with something so that the courts would have the opportunity the do their job.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542375)

The District Attorney has an obligation to not bring cases he can't win. It took 1.5 years to arrest Michael Jackson's doctor, let investigators do their job.

It's not a question of innocence (5, Insightful)

meosborne (8640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542351)

It's not a question of guilt or innocence, Zimmerman is guilty of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. That is not in question at all. The question is whether he was legally justified in doing so. Unfortunately, one side of the story (Trayvon) has been removed and cannot be heard.

A human being *died*. A young man was shot and killed while bearing only a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles. An investigation of more than simply accepting the word of the shooter is definitely warranted.

Re:It's not a question of innocence (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542569)

A young man was shot and killed while bearing only a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles

and reportedly slamming Zimmerman's head into the pavement repeatedly and telling Zimmerman "You're going to die tonight".

Re:It's not a question of innocence (4, Insightful)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542621)

Any healthy human can kill with their bare hands. You don't need martial art training. You just need enough anger to dehumanize your target and start beating the shit out of him.

Unfortunately with every blow, you dehumanize yourself in the eyes of your victim, making it that much more likely that they'll respond to your force.

Our legal system is set up that police can only hold you for 48 hours before they either release you or charge you with a crime. The case has to be solid, as in will 12 people who were unable to get out of jury duty, believe in the prosecutors' version of events or else the defendant will go free. If the defendant gets a not-guilty verdict, he is protected by double jeopardy, which prevents the government from taking him back to court on the same charges.

So by demanding "Justice for Trayvon now, only skittles and iced tea", they are preventing investigators from making a solid case against Zimmerman. They are tainting the jury pool so much that they'll have to ship Amish people from Pennsylvania and Ohio to serve on the jury.

Will that give Trayvon any justice? Is this really about justice at all? Zimmerman is going to be looking over his shoulders for the rest of his life whether he gets charged or not. He has been convicted in the court of liberal public opinion.

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542433)

So it's a media circus. Since the time Martin died, far more people have also died or have been killed. Chalk one up for media bias. Not just the media, but his parents and President Obama are exploiting his death. Just another symptom of the US' decline.

Re:So what? (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542567)

The revelation that a kel-tec really is a more effective weapon than a bag of skittles is fairly noteworthy.

Re:So what? (2)

anonicon (215837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542449)

When law enforcement authorities refuse to press charges against a known killer, the only thing left IS the court of public opinion. It's not like George Zimmerman can throw himself into court without personally confessing details that would make him chargeable.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

TheRealGrogan (1660825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542463)

Except that there are some facts here.

1) "Neighbourhood watch" personnel know that they are not supposed to be armed
2) They are warned not to engage, lest they risk legal repercussions. They are to call the police.
3) Zimmerman was specifically told to stand down in this case by a police dispatcher.

That's the only "opinion" I need to have. Zimmerman needs to be charged, just like he would be if he shot some rich white kid.

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542547)

Or a woman.

Re:So what? (0)

lowy (91366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542485)

Agreed, Zimmerman deserves a fair trial (followed by a fair hanging)

Since the state is not charging him with a crime, though, it is completely reasonable (IMHO) for the public to gather and analyze evidence sufficient to compel it to do so. In the mean time, yeah, the guy's life has been torn to pieces. it would suck to be him.

But if I were him I would most definitely *not* prefer my day in court. Not only are there very few circumstances in which I would voluntarily put my life in the hands of a Florida jury, but Zimmerman will still largely be "guilty" in the minds of the public regardless the outcome. Perhaps even more so after an acquittal.

If he is smart he has already fled the country and made a book deal to pay for it. If he doesn't have the brains or the emotional fortitude to leave America he should just end it all, (hopefully by taking a casual stroll down the streets of Camden or Compton wearing a sign, like Bruce Willis' character did in Die Hard with a Vengeance. That would be cool.)

A trial doesn't sound like a smart option for the guy though.

Re:So what? (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542611)

You forget that the trial will be held in the county he resides in. Not LA or New York or any other bastion of liberal thought and policy. In this county I assure you the majority of Home Owners and Employed Taxpayers who make up the majority of the jury pool will decide and not Al Sharpton nor any members of the New York Times staff. Given this fact I'd bet his peers, who are fed up with thugs wanderning around in the wee hours of the night seeking what they can take will be much more likely to understand what was going through Zimmerman's mind than you are. I'd bet money that he would walk.

Re:So what? (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542605)

Welcome to ...well United States politics. Our papers and news media have been doing this since the beginning, even before. The only thing that changed is the official presumption of innocence.

Re:So what? (-1, Troll)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542331)

I struggled for a moment, trying to figure out how this story could be argued as "news for nerds", but the only real angle that I could come up with was that somebody used technology to do something. Most puzzling, there isn't a single mention of iPods, iPads, or any other iProduct. In desperation, I even read the linked article, but the only phrase of interest that I could find was a throwaway reference to "in this post-9/11 world", which is about ten years late. It did give me flashbacks to Slashdot in the early 2000s, however. Unfortunately, this also caused me to remember Jon Katz. This is unforgivable. On the other hand, I also remembered Junis, which sort of makes up for remembering Jon Katz.

As far as I can tell, this is just some guy grandstanding. It doesn't help that this is par for the course for the media, who love to stretch controversy and scandal for as long as they can drag out the story. No new details to report? Report that there's no new details. New details trickling in? Report that you've got some more facts, but you haven't yet written a story.... stay tuned for updates! Someone else jump the gun and write a story before all the details were available and verified? Report on that, and start a dialogue about journalistic ethics. You can drag this shit out for months, if you're good, even if you've got absolutely nothing to report. It reminds me of the utter bullshit that I would submit in 7th grade English classes. I think that I missed my true calling, as I am a master of the meaningless, bullshit essay.

Re:So what? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542637)

Beautiful, absolutely marvelous.

April Fools (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542111)

I love how we have all of these joke stories every April 1. It's good to ignore serious news for a bit.

Re:April Fools (0)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542137)

No it's true, the screams were those of /. readers everywhere at the collapse of their news blog.

Re:April Fools (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542171)

I know that /. is US-centric but wtf is going on? Some guy used a piece of software?

Re:April Fools (5, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542203)

Really? Slashdot has frequent coverage of human rights, crime, law enforcement. Technology alone isn't the only subject Slashdot readers are interested in. It just so happens that technology and forensics do play a role in this story. However even if they didn't, this is a huge story, and well worth covering on Slashdot.

Re:April Fools (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542615)

This is not a huge story. The Treyvon Martin story is a huge story.

I think people get a little cranky about shoehorning hot-button issues onto slashdot, for the fight, by using less-than-suitable tech stories. What's "suitable" in the first place, of course, is entirely debatable.

Re:April Fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542337)

I'm starting to think that there will not be any April Fools stories on /. today. This story is real, as I believe all the other ones that have been posted this morning on the front page.

I was honestly hoping for some funny stories today as in past years. Things changed it seems.

Re:April Fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542519)

I was honestly hoping for some funny stories today as in past years. Things changed it seems.

Things have changed, the world is turning into a huge bag of shit. You'll have to forgive us if we're not in a joking mood these days.

reasonable scientific certainty? Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542133)

We don't believe in that commie 'science' crap.

Why is this on Slashdot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542135)

Slashdot just keeps going down in quality. Ugh. This used to be a great site to learn about technology and linux but now it is crap.

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542151)

So why do you keep following it? ;-)

If you want to make a statement then stop visiting. Lesser visitors, lesser options to sell advertising and maybe the whole site will go down. Mission accomplished. Errrr.....

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542227)

I no, rite? I came here to read about scince, not about some questionable black kid who got shot for being stupid (surprise!) and wearing a hoodie, walking around, a bulge in his pocket, suspended from school, etc. Excuse me not black, African American person of color, don't push the report flag on me.

Can I get a woop woop?

Oh wait, seriously this story is about biometric software, which is both news for nerds and stuff that matters, and deals with your rights online as well. The fact that it just eats your cheese to have to glance on a story about Trayvon Martin is really saying something about you.

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542229)

Its April 1. Its a joke. Laugh.

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542277)

If it's a joke it's in poor taste. A kid got shot over a hoody and a bag of skittles. I'm all for making a mockery of forensic pseudo science but in this case "too soon"...

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542289)

"Too soon" doesn't and has never made any sense.

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542389)

It's not that hard. "Comedy = Tragedy + Time". "Too soon" means that the value of Time is insufficient for the formula to work.

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542481)

I thought that comedy = subjective. I had no idea that everyone had the same sense of humor.

Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542517)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2hS_LhslTw&feature=related [youtube.com]

1944 - Too soon. 1967 (when it was written), not too soon.

History softens the blow for certain types of events, to the point where it's not considered bad taste to make a joke about it. While tragic events are still fresh in memory, they need to be treated with a certain amount of dignity and respect. It's about social decorum... while that's a construct, it's one that still has value in social interactions.

BTW, with this particular example, does Godwin's law say I lose?

Slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542155)

This site really knows it's audience. It posts tech industry news days to weeks after other sites, but somehow remains up-to-the-minute on the latest political scandal flamebait. They know that all the actual techies have left and been replaced with libertarian trolls.

Re:Slashdot (5, Insightful)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542281)

all the actual techies have left and been replaced with libertarian trolls.

Huh? I remember way back when quoting Ayn Rand on Slashdot was a sure ticket to +5 Insightful. And you say that Slashdot is infested with libertarian trolls now?

Being brother to Bob Dylan probably helps! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542159)

Robert Zimmerman...

In case you missed it (5, Informative)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542165)

Zimmerman's claim of being badly beaten up before he shot the kid doesn't hold up either: there's some footage taken at the police station [go.com] the night of his arrest, and he looks totally unharmed. No cuts to the back of the head, no broken nose, nothing. Guy's story has more holes than... eh, I'm on my eighteenth hour without sleep due to a project and can't come up with an apt metaphor, but something with a lot of holes.

Re:In case you missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542191)

Swiss cheese?

Re:In case you missed it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542193)

More holes than Trayvon?

Re:In case you missed it (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542215)

Re:In case you missed it (5, Insightful)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542287)

Hmm... "my fox tampa bay" and "bob owens"... two totally trustworthy news sites there. good job.

Re:In case you missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542495)

RIght, because any person/site/organization/etc. that you personally disagree with has to be untrustworthy.

And of course any person/site/organization/etc. that you personally agree with is without question completely trustworthy.

Re:In case you missed it (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542539)

Well I don't know why we should trust a guy who runs a chain of breakfast restaurants.

Re:In case you missed it (5, Insightful)

TheRealGrogan (1660825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542589)

It doesn't even matter if he was beaten... he should be.. We don't have to recognize the authority of Neighbourhood Watch snitches. If they think there is an issue, they are to call the police. That's it. If they engage, WE have the right to self defense. They don't have police powers and if they attempt to bar my egress I won't hesitate to use as much force as necessary.

Re:In case you missed it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542269)

He doesn't appear too beat up, but I wouldn't hang my hat on those surveillance pictures if a higher quality still is around. It would have been nice if the giant "ABC News" logo didn't cover his head most of the time. Interestingly, he was hauled to the station in handcuffs.

I wonder what source materiel these forensic experts were working with. I assume just the stuff that has been released publicly.

Re:In case you missed it (2)

mrclisdue (1321513) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542283)

... eh, I'm on my eighteenth hour without sleep due to a project and can't come up with an apt metaphor, but something with a lot of holes.

How's about:

apt get news-for-nerds?

cheers,

Re:In case you missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542357)

Who cares?

I come to /. for tech news. Not the latest 24-hour news network fad and gossip.

Can't wait ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542175)

... until it is proven to in fact be him. It will help show what voodoo "science" most of these courtroom experts perform.

So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542179)

IANAL but it's my understanding only what is admissible to a grand jury or in a court of law is relevant. Otherwise it is hearsay.

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542343)

Hey! If hearsay is good enough to 'convict' bin Laden and Hussien, it's good enough for me...

Dammit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542189)

Dammit /.

This website is supposed to be a haven from the GOP Primaries, Casey Anthony, and Martin-Zimmerman case.
 
  I do not care they used some weird proprietary technology to determine if it was Zimmerman. Speech recognition is a technology still has difficulty with.. like a captcha. I trust the other guy more.

The screams (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542217)

The screams were from Jenna Jameson as I cranked her down with my huge manhood. No, really - they were!

Re:The screams (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542295)

I think I've heard of Jenna Jameson, but I'm not sure...
Is that the old broad?

Science or Pseudo-science? (5, Interesting)

Jazari (2006634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542249)

Has this software been subjected to repeated double-blind testing? Otherwise, there's no point in reporting this.

Highly doubtful (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542311)

..judging by the amateurish, information-devoid website and release date less than one month ago.

Pseudo-science in a name (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542401)

The name of the software at least isn't very psuedo-sciency.

Easy Voice Biometrics

If it was based on psuedo-science it would have another name. Something like, Crystal Voice Biometrics, or Sonic Wave Biomagnetics.

Re:Science or Pseudo-science? (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542581)

Damn good question. I did a Google search for "site:.edu Easy Voice Biometrics Voice Biometrics Software" and came up with more results than I had time to plough through.

I would think that if they had good studies, they would be touting them on their web site, but maybe not.

We'll find out if it ever goes to trial and Zimmerman's lawyer puts their expert on the witness stand.

Does This Tool Actually Work? (5, Insightful)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542255)

While I'm personally of the opinion that Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter, I've also seen too many cases of "forensic science" of dubious validity being allowed in trials (for example Steven Hayne in Mississippi help convict dozens of people on the base of 'bite mark identification' techniques that are widely considered fraudulent). Can anyone point to any independent blind trials to demonstrate 1) that the metrics used by this program actually are invariant for a particular individual and 2) are sufficiently unique that they can be used to reliably distinguish two individuals?

Re:Does This Tool Actually Work? (5, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542345)

Yes, but there are so many holes in his story that it's beyond belief. There is no question of who shot Trayvon, Zimmerman has admitted that. He's claiming self-defense, and his story doesn't hold up to any scrutiny. He should be (should have already been) arrested and charged, and let the legal system handle it, not the media and public outcry. If they don't have enough evidence, then the grand jury can refuse to indict. If they do, then he goes to trial or makes a plea.

Re:Does This Tool Actually Work? (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542619)

That's exactly it. We know for a fact that he began from a position of safety (since he was on the phone w/ 911). Stand your ground does not mean charge into danger. We know the victim had no weapon. That makes the threat to life or grievous bodily harm seem unlikely. It really does seem like more than enough to justify deeper investigation, but instead the DA has already delivered a poor excuse for no charges which generally indicates there will be none..

Re:Does This Tool Actually Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542501)

He may be found guilty of manslaughter since it's likely possible to prove. I think he was effectively out "hunting" and the boy was the unlucky one that got shot. The shooter had a violent history and he was out stalking a black kid because having a soda and a bag of Skittles was suspicious to him. If the kid was screaming for help then he knew before hand that he was about to die so this was no snap decision the shooter had every intention of killing him. If he's found guilty at all he'll likely get a token sentence for stalking and killing a kid simply because he wanted to kill a black guy. The chances of justice truly being served are zero. It's easy to say don't try him in the court of public opinion but this nebulous term "justice" is how we sleep nights when killers are set free. Can you say OJ. It may be justice but is it going to be the right decision?

Re:Does This Tool Actually Work? (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542525)

I think there's a significant problem in the way this software is being used in this case. It is one thing to say that, based on samples of an individual's voice, that there is X probability that some other voice sample could be from the same person. However, there isn't any way the software can do the opposite and prove a negative. For example, you can take hours of recordings of my voice from phone conversations and train the software. Now, if I make my voice sound like Donald Duck, or if I sing in falsetto, which are two types of sounds that would not be in the sampling of my normal voice, what probability would the software return that the silly voice matches my normal voice? It would be very low, at is should be.

In this case we have a sample of someone's NOT NORMAL VOICE. They are screaming and yelling. What voice samples of Zimmerman's were used to train the software? Was it recordings of him screaming and yelling? If not then of course the software will return a low probability. Actually, I'm surprised it returned as high of a probability as it did.

Now, as a side note, I think the news is really trying to inflame this whole deal. I think Zimmerman is likely in the wrong here, however, the media is running rampant with speculation. A good example are the video clips of Zimmerman at the police station, and them (news media) saying it doesn't look like his nose is broken, or that there doesn't appear to be blood all over him. That sort of thing is completely impossible to determine from the crappy, low resolution security video. Again, yes, if there was that much blood and it could be seen in the video, then a positive could be "proven", but just because it doesn't show up in the video doesn't mean he has significant injuries or a broken nose, etc.

Re:Does This Tool Actually Work? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542629)

This reminds me of the infamous plane identification software. Its accuracy got up to 100%. They were so happy that they managed to do it. Put it out in the field and there were all sorts of false positives and false negatives. Turns out that the software got so good at guessing because with the test photos, all the good planes were shot against bright blue sky and the bad planes were shot against dark sky. The software made all its predictions based on the sky color.

Zimmerman claimed he was beaten about the head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542265)

yet videos showed no sign of bruising or blood. He is a medical miracle.

So, it was the young black guy screaming for help (1, Insightful)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542271)

... and George just shot him in "self defense"?
Sounds like cold blooded murder, not self defense.
Who is shooting an armless scared teen?

Re:So, it was the young black guy screaming for he (2)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542307)

Who is shooting an armless scared teen?

He shot a handicap? Or did you mean unarmed?

Questions (1)

AtlanticCarbon (760109) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542297)

Isn't it fair to assume the expert is using the publicly available samples? IIRC one of the experts in the Sentinel article suggested that the difference between the two samples (sound and screaming vs. being relatively calm) doesn't matter. Can someone explain more technically why it wouldn't matter? At the very least, doesn't interference and other factors come into play with the recording taken at a distance, i.e., the one where is screaming.

Re:Questions (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542391)

The same way you can recognize someone's voice whether it is in person, across the room or on the telephone. The distinctiveness of a voice is about overtones and the various proportions of them to each other. The vocal cords and shape of the skull don't change.

Re:Questions (1)

AtlanticCarbon (760109) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542571)

I can recognize people's voices when they are relatively calm. I don't have a lot of experience recognizing people's screams at a distance over a telephone, but it seems like even when people call me at a distance to get my attention that I can't identify them until I see them.

Also, you say the vocal cords don't change but clearly the human body (including in the throat and not just the mouth) is capable of deforming to create a variety of sounds, no?

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542609)

I find it hard to believe that any teenager in this day and age doesn't have mounds of video/audio of their own voice to use as a source. He's never left his girlfriend a message, made a video for youTube, saved video of himself on his phone doing something?

Another interesting discovery what was made... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542299)

Was they located the ever elusive "white Hispanic." Not only are they using reputable software such as "Easy Bake Oven Biometrics" to prove that he did it, they were also able to make him of an entirely new race! Lets make sure we turn this into a race war as soon as possible!

Re:Another interesting discovery what was made... (1)

vitriolum (1280610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542393)

"The terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" refer to persons who trace their origin or descent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spanish speaking Central and South America countries, and other Spanish cultures. Origin can be considered as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race." From wikipedia, quoting from the US Census Bureau

Re:Another interesting discovery what was made... (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542431)

Hispanic just means from an area with a cultural connection to Spain. That means different races can be Hispanic- just off the top of my head, they could be Spanish, native American, meso American, Jewish, Filipino, Caribbean. But I agree, the usage in this case is ridiculous.

Hmm, cell phone audio at 8kbps? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542335)

I'd be very, very leery of trying to do any sort of "voice print analysis" on the basis of recorded cellphone audio. There's a lot of coding artifacts. After all, the goal is to allow people to communicate, not to convey voice identity.

You can run voice through a fairly low bit rate LPC coder and it's quite intelligible on the other end, and actually "sounds" like the speaker, but if you look at the spectrogram, it's totally different. Your ear hears the dominant formants in the vowels, and you recognize speakers by that. LPC basically encodes the vocal tract as a 8-10 term filter plus a buzz excitation source. "voice print id" depends more on fine structure, which is lost in the encoding/decoding. It would be like trying to identify a paper document that was watermarked by looking at a photocopy. The watermark may or may not come through, but the intelligibility of the document is the same either way.

Re:Hmm, cell phone audio at 8kbps? (3, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542533)

Cell phone audio is generally higher than 8kbps, even on GSM [wikipedia.org] where 12k-13kbps is typical. CDMA (including 3G networks) is as high or higher. That's plenty for very reliable voiceprint analysis. And in this case, they have all the samples of Zimmerman talking before the screaming encoded using the same method, making the comparison even easier.

yawn: "trial by rumor" (5, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542367)

"Trial by social media". "Trial by the self-righteous" Glad we have court systems to sort out all these rumors.

Re:yawn: "trial by rumor" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542511)

The point is though that the "court system" is currently not be used but relying up upon the judgement of the chief of police with a limited set of data.

Facts vs NonFacts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542385)

You can prove the voices match someone. You can't prove the voice don't match someone.

What difference does it make? (4, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542435)

Even if Zimmerman was the one screaming
He followed and confronted someone for no good reason, even after having been explicitly told (by 911 operator) to stay away
Even if Zimmeriman screamed through the whole process, the killing of Trayvon is not justified.

Re:What difference does it make? (3, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39542573)

A thousand times this. You can't claim self defense when you purposely stalk someone and then confront them out in public. You are purposely potentially putting yourself in harms way. I wish more people would understand this.

Re:What difference does it make? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542591)

Let's just for a moment assume that Zimmermann was definitely the one screaming.
Does disregarding an "order" by a 911 operator mean you deserve being beat up, without the right to defend yourself?

Less Reputable Than Polygraph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39542635)

Voice Analysis, and/or Voice Stress Analysis, is even less reputable than Polygraph.

Polygraph is junk science. It is bullshit. It is not acceptable as evidence in a court of law, because it is junk science and bullshit.

These junk science bullshit methods need to be exposed for what they are!

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