Yesterday’s ruling by Circuit Judge Debra Nelson to exclude the testimony of Mr. Owen and Dr. Reich, the State’s purported audio and speech recognition “experts”, essentially for making up their evidence — she put it more politely but that is the gist of her judgement — has thrown the State’s case into utter disarray. The crux of the State case is that Martin posed no threat to Zimmerman when he shot him, and the testimony of their “experts” that the voice heard screaming during the 911 call was Martin was vital to proving that. Without that testimony they have no other evidence that directly supports that argument, which is why they fought so hard to have these charlatans testify.
So what happens now?
They could be pragmatic. The judge has just thrown out their most important piece of evidence, they now have no evidence to assert that it is Martin not Zimmerman screaming, and they don’t have one witness who can emphatically testify that Zimmerman didn’t shoot Martin in self-defence. Ordinarily you would expect them to drop the charges but this is a show trial and the prosecutors have politically boxed themselves in to such an extent that I don’t think the State is even willing to concede that it’s Zimmerman screaming, which they really should because they can’t prove otherwise. However, since the judge has left it open to both sides to play the tapes at trial and call “witnesses familiar with the voice of ” Zimmerman or Martin to testify to the identity of the screamer, don’t expect the State to be pragmatic. They will probably call one or both of Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, to identify their son’s voice. Who else could they call who would know him well enough?
The problem is that Tracy Martin has already said it wasn’t his son, and Martin was 17 years old, so his voice would have significantly changed over the last few years, and when is the last time either of them heard Martin scream? And the judge has also already said in her pre-trial ruling that she “found the testimony of Dr. French to be the most compelling of the witnesses presented”, and cited his position on “listener bias” and accepted that a comparison between a normal speaking voice and a scream is not possible. Expect him to be called again. Martin’s parents testimony won’t stand up to scrutiny.
There are also significant dangers of calling Martin’s parents to give evidence. They both have two very good motives to lie. Firstly, the obviously one: they want to see Zimmerman going down for killing their son. Understandable but hardly does much for their credibility. Secondly, Mark O’Mara doesn’t have to tread on egg-shells and shouldn’t — they have a huge financial motive to lie too. They have already profited out of Martin’s death through a civil claim and have indicated through their lawyer Crump that they want a second bite at the cherry by suing Zimmerman too. It doesn’t seem to have taken them long to realise that their son is worth far more to them dead than he ever was alive. They couldn’t even wait until the end of the criminal trial before milking that cash cow. Some people might find that comment harsh but facts are facts, they have already sought to profit handsomely out of the death of their son. So it’s not hard to believe they would lie to convict Zimmerman.
Also calling anyone to identify Martin as the screamer allows the defence to make the argument that the person getting the beating is Zimmerman and therefore he is the one screaming. You can imagine how that might go, with O’Mara saying something along the lines of, “I put it to you that it is George Zimmerman screaming in fear for his life, whilst Martin is pummelling his skull into the ground?” Bear in mind a witness who wasn’t there would not be able to dispute that Martin was the aggressor or that he was trying to beat Zimmerman to death. In fact, the defence would be able to use that witness to point out that there is nothing in the State’s evidence that indicates that Martin was even aware of Zimmerman’s gun.
Then on a lesser note. The prosecution has successfully managed to have Martin’s bad character excluded from the trial. However, if his parents are called as witnesses they could very easily bring in character evidence by trying to paint their son in a favourable light. In those circumstances, the defence will demand that bad character evidence is introduced, and the good ladies of the jury would be introduced to No Limit Nigga, the violent thug, who was suspended from school for carrying a screw driver and being in possession of stolen women’s jewellery.