News Column

Tryavon's Mother ID's His Screams on 911 Tape

July 5, 2013

The mother of slain black teenager Trayvon Martin testified Friday that the screams in the background of a 911 call were those of her son, shedding light on one of the key arguments in the racially charged trial.

Sybrina Fulton and Martin's brother, Jahvaris Fulton, took the stand in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch captain who says he shot Martin in self defence. Both identified the screams as coming from Martin.

Their testimony, the most emotional so far in the trial that began June 11, is key to arguments that Zimmerman, 29, killed Martin, 17, in a confrontation that prosecutors allege was motivated by racial profiling.

The identity of the voice is crucial to the case in helping to determine who was the aggressor in the scuffle before Zimmerman, who is half Latino, shot Martin through the heart at close range.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda played the taped phone call to police made by a neighbour in Sanford, Florida, who heard screams outside her window in the February 2012 incident.

In the background, more than 10 screams for help can be heard, but it's not clear who is screaming. In pre-trial hearings, an FBI audio expert testified that technology could not identify the voice, but suggested that someone who knew the voice might be able to do so.

Sybrina Fulton, who has been in the courtroom through the trial along with her ex-husband and Martin's father, said she recognized the voice. Asked to identify whose voice it was, she said: "Trayvon Benjamin Martin."

Fulton stuck to her story through cross-examination, in which defence attorney Mark O'Mara suggested that she may have been biased by others who listened to the police call, or by her hopes that it would confirm her son was the victim and not the attacker.

"I heard my son screaming," Fulton said. "I would hope for this to never have happened, and he would still be here."

The case provoked nationwide outrage when police initially did not arrest Zimmerman. Charges were finally filed more than six weeks after the killing.

Martin, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, was returning from a store where he bought candy and an ice tea when Zimmerman began trailing him and at one point called police to report a suspicious person in the neighbourhood.

Medical examiner Shiping Bao, who performed the postmortem examination, testified that the bullet pierced part of Martin's heart and a lung, and that in his opinion, the teenager "was still alive, still in pain" for another one to 10 minutes.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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