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Expert: Best Voice Analysis is "Familiar"; Bush: Snowden "Damaged the Country"

Aired July 1, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back to NEWSROOM. Dr. Nakasone still on the stand, questioned by the defense attorneys, let's cut out so Sanford, Florida and Sunny, you bring our viewers up to date.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes I can tell you what is going on now and where Don West seems to be going. He's going into listener bias. And the reason he is doing that is again because I think this witness for the state is queuing up someone from Trayvon Martin's family that will come on to the witness stand and say I am familiar with his voice and when I listen to that 911 call, I hear his voice.

So now Don West is trying to say well -- well let's hold back a minute. Isn't it true that there is listener bias sometimes meaning, you are listening to something. And you may be familiar with that person but just the shear sort of stress of listening to what would be your family member being killed on tape may skew your perception of the voice.

And so that is where he is trying to go and that's a very important place for the defense to go because think about how crucial it will be if this witness now has testified, yes, familiar voice recognition is reliable. And then you get someone on the witness stand and says I am familiar with Trayvon Martin's voice that would be very, very important for the state and that's why we're hearing the defense challenge that premise.

COSTELLO: We continue to be surprised that this voice analyst was put on in the first place because we thought after this initial hearing to keep voice analysis out of the mix, out of the trial and now suddenly this witness has been testifying for what an hour-and-a-half now Page.

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It seems like it but it does sort of like we're getting a different type of an opinion. He is no longer saying "I believe it's Zimmerman or I believe it was Trayvon Martin." He is talking about the mechanics of it and how it's difficult to make a determination like that after the fact.

Sunny is right about bias, bias affects eyewitness testimony it also affects audio, visual things like that because it's all in what the person perceives and that person's background. If I think that's Trayvon because I know Trayvon then I'm going to have a bias to believe it's Trayvon.

COSTELLO: Yes but will that be tough? I mean what if Trayvon Martin's mother takes the stand and she says I'm sure that's my baby.

JASON JOHNSON, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly and both sets of parents are going to say I think that's my kid. But here's what's interesting the night, the ear witnesses that we have so far. They didn't know either person. And the majority of the ear witnesses three out the four who've talked about that night have said they thought it was Trayvon Martin.

So again, I don't see how this is helpful because the people who are closest to it. They think they heard the young man.

COSTELLO: All right we're going to continue to monitor this testimony.

But we want to talk about something else this morning because it's important. Former President George W. Bush is in African nation of Zambia. He and the former First Lady are there to renovate and reopen a cancer clinic. And they sat down with CNN Robyn Curnow for an exclusive interview. They covered a variety of topics including Edward Snowden, the intelligence worker who exposed the surveillance program that President Bush himself launched.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think he's a traitor?

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know he damaged the country and the Obama administration will deal with it.

CURNOW: Do you think it's possible for one man to really damage the security of the nation?

BUSH: I think he damaged the security of the country. Yes.

CURNOW: And when it comes to surveillance, there can be real time understanding of what you're Googling?


BUSH: I put the program -- I put the program in place to protect the country. And one of the certainties is civil liberties were guaranteed.

CURNOW: So you don't think there was a compromised between security and privacy?

BUSH: I think there needs to be a balance and I think as the President explained there is a proper balance.

CURNOW: You don't want to criticize the Obama administration, that's something that you made really a decision not to do --

BUSH: I don't think it does any good. It's a hard job. He's got plenty on his agenda. And it's difficult. And a former President doesn't need to make it harder.

CURNOW: Because in the polls. You and --

BUSH: I could care less.

CURNOW: You don't care?


CURNOW: Whether the people think you are favorable or unfavorable?

BUSH: The only time I really cared was on Election Day.

You know, I guess it's nice. I mean let me rephrase it, thank you for bringing it up.

CURNOW: You like the idea that people, perhaps, are looking at you differently?

BUSH: You know, I mean ultimately history will judge the decisions that I made and -- and I won't be around because it's going to take a while for the objective historians to show up. And so I'm pretty comfortable with it. I did what I did. I know the spirit in which I did it.


COSTELLO: George W. Bush in Africa, in that African nation to do a little charity work. And you can see the rest of Robyn's exclusive interview with the former President and the First Lady tonight on CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer."

Of course, we're continuing to watch the George Zimmerman murder trial. We're back in a minute. .


COSTELLO: Dr. Nakasone that FBI voice analyst still on the stand being questioned by defense attorney Don West. He is now getting into telling Don West that it's virtually impossible for scientists to figure out whose voice it was on that 911 tape for various reasons.

Dr. Nakasone also testified to the fact that even if a person very familiar with the person, if that person heard a loved one's voice on that 911 call, it doesn't necessarily mean they will be able to identify that voice with 100 percent certainty.

After five days filled with headline making witness, though, colorful language and photos from that deadly confrontation the Zimmerman trial is starting to take an emotional toll.

David Mattingly has that part of the story for you.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): One week of graphic and at times disturbing testimony at both sides in the Zimmerman trial are showing sign of strain. Trayvon Martin's parents were moved to tears on the first day, listening to opening statements. The very next day, they had to walk out when the court saw pictures of their son's lifeless body. It was particularly hard on Martin's father.

DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Although they would give us some advanced notice that the state was going to be using some very sensitive pictures for that picture to come up on the screen very live really, really brought back a memory that he had to walk out on.

MATTINGLY: But for Trayvon's mother, the most difficult moment was the sound heard in the background of a 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. What is your --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's gunshots --


MATTINGLY: The gunshot signaling the end of her son's life.

PARKS: His mother doesn't like the gunshot. The gunshot, her hearing that and hearing about his final moments is very tough for her.

MATTINGLY: What impact the testimony is having on George Zimmerman himself is harder to read. For the most part, Zimmerman sits quietly, seemingly unmoved, often gazing forward.

In May, I spoke to Mark O'Mara about his client's 120 weight gain and what that might suggest about his emotional state.

(on camera): Are you worried he might hurt himself?

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. I mean I don't want to say --


MATTINGLY: He seems to be slowly doing himself harm by gaining all this weight. Could he possibly do something more severe?

O'MARA: Clearly, I'm not going to make my -- a psychologist, psychiatrist, could he? I guess it's always possible. I mean I've lived this case a year. And I've lost the weight, so could I harm myself? No, I'm not going to get to that point. I think George is stressed out. I don't think that he's going to harm herself. .

MATTINGLY: What he's doing though is extreme, are you concerned?

O'MARA: I am very concerned that he has gotten to the point where this case has caused him to gain 120 or 30 pounds. That is physically destructive -- that I'll grant you.

MATTINGLY: A month later and after a week of testimony little has changed.

O'MARA: He's very stressed out. I mean he really is. For a year- and-a-half he's been in hiding. And now he's facing a potential life sentence, so he's literally fighting for his life today and this week as he was back in February of 2012.

And it's very stressful and very frightening.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Sanford, Florida.


COSTELLO: And the trial goes on, this witness testifying for a couple of hours -- George Zimmerman sitting in court seemingly impassive. And I wanted to talk to Page Pate about that because you're a defense attorney, how do you counsel defendants to look in court?

PATE: Well it's very difficult. And a lot depends on the individual client. You want them be interested. But you don't want them to react negatively, or with anger or anything like that because you know, through experience that the jury is watching them very carefully. Because you know they're listening to the evidence, they're listening to the testimony, but they also want to see how this person responds to that and it's tough. I mean you're the client your life is literally being played out in front of you. You can't stand up and say anything almost during the entire trial.

COSTELLO: So you can't show anger.

PAGE: You shouldn't.

COSTELLO: Frustration.

PATE: You shouldn't.

COSTELLO: At times, it appears that George Zimmerman kind of fell asleep. Although, we don't know that for sure, but during this testimony, it would be hard not to right.

PAGE: What we try to do is if give them a pad of paper, and a pen and say take some notes, maybe something that you're going to hear is something you want to discuss with me later. Write it down. And we'll come back and talk. That he gives them something to do.

COSTELLO: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with more.


COSTELLO: All right. Dr. Nakasone. He -- the defense attorney Don West is finished questioning this witness. He's now or redirect from the prosecution. We're going to continue to monitor this for you.

But we want to check our other top stories at 44 minutes past the hour. Tragedy hits the Prescott, Arizona fire department. An entire 19- member elite fire fighting crew was killed Sunday while battling a wildfire between Phoenix and Flagstaff. This is the deadliest fire for fire fighters since the September 11th attacks. The team was creating a escape path when they were overcome by flames. The wildfire has burned 6,000 acres and destroyed 100 structures.

Also, President Obama issued a statement saying they were heroes, highly skilled professionals who like so many across our country do every day selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and properties of fellow citizens they would never meet.

Still no sign of NSA leaker Edward Snowden who may still be spilling secrets. And is still believed to be somewhere in the Moscow airport. In the latest Snowden fallout European officials they are furious over a report Washington alleged spied on EU offices in the United States and Brussels. In the meantime Michael Haydon, a former director of the NSA and CIA told CBS's "Face the Nation" that he -- he didn't know whether that report was actually true.

Starting today, same-sex couples can get married in Delaware. State lawmakers have approved the bill in May, 12 other states and the District of Columbia already allow same-sex marriages.

400,000 San Francisco Bay Area commuters are looking for alternate ways to get to work this morning. Workers with BART, the city's public transit system have gone on strike. The union seeking better pay and benefits.

In Egypt protesters are packing the streets of Cairo, they're demanding President Mohamed Morsi leave office by tomorrow or they will march on his palace. To CNN Tahrir Square resembled protests two years ago that toppled the Mubarak regime. 16 people have been killed in more than 780 wounded in clashes since Sunday.

President Obama is showing off some dance moves with crowds welcoming him to Tanzania this morning. It's his last stop in a week-long trip to Africa. Today he will talk with Tanzania's president and also visit a power plant one day after pledging $7 billion to combat frequent power blackouts in sub-Saharan Africa.

All right. We're going to head back to Sanford, Florida and live testimony. You are hearing the redirect of this witness, this FBI voice analyst, Dr. Nakasone -- let's listen.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: This concept of what you referred to as the potential bias, again, you were talking in context of having a scientist conduct what you call an unfamiliar voice analysis. The computer system or that type of identification where you don't know or have never heard the supposed Speaker's voice before, right?


And, however, though, that happens also in the voice lineup situation where you recommend to FBI agents who acts.


GUY: Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you. Were you done yet?

WEST: No, he wasn't done yet.

DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING JUDGE: Please avoid your comments.

WEST: Yes, judge.

NELSON: Go ahead, Doctor, you may continue.

NAKASONE: I said the, you know, the effort to guide them to remove any bias in facts happens not only to the technical analysis for unfamiliar voices but also it is equally important. The same you know safe guard against bias would be as important in the familiar voice recognition as well to remove risk of bias, and also to improve the credibility of the results of this you know identification precision.

GUY: If I heard you about voice lineups, you are talking about a situation where possibly a victim of a crime is asked to come down and lessen to potential suspects say what the perpetrator said?

Is that what you are talking about the voice lineup?

NAKASONE: Yes, that would be a part of that. Sometime it happens there is not enough quality in the voice recordings happening in the federal cases and recommend only thing they can do, to be to find somebody who are familiar with the voices and advise them if they have say, three or four potential individuals advise them to have each listen to the record voice over the time of the individual separately one at a time. It's a part of my recommendation.

GUY: OK. If we're talking about the potential for bias, that is exactly what it is, right -- potential?


GUY: OK. If I were to have you and another person familiar with your mother's voice, listen to it together, are you worried that that would compromise your ability to recognize someone with whose voice you are so familiar?

NAKASONE: Well, there is always a chance. I might get compromised.

GUY: When you say there is a chance --


GUY: It certainly doesn't mean it's going to happen, does it?

WEST: Objection -- leading. .

NELSON: Overruled.

NAKASONE: If two voice at hand we have to compare are so obviously different, so obviously different or so obviously the same the chance of (inaudible) bias might be lesser than the situation in which two voices sound alike or very difficult to analyze and I think humans, they examine as human, they have a tendency to sort of follow the leader and that happens and the bias issue is a very serious, you know, topic embedded within the scientific working group for the speaker recognition as well. It's a very serious issue.

GUY: Does bias work both ways? By that, I mean, if you go into it not wanting or assuming that you are fought hearing the same voice?

NAKASONE: It can go either way.

GUY: As far as familiar voice identification goes -- understanding the frailties of this particular tape, understanding that what you've said is the more scientific computer assisted method doesn't provide us with enough here. Did I understand your testimony?

NAKASONE: Yes, that is correct. Because there is no way for the computer to contain all sorts of in the futures coming from the voice -- it's analyzing. This is just a one shot analysis.

GREGORY: So if you've only got that one shot, the best person to do it is someone who has heard that voice under similar circumstances?

NAKASONE: That is correct.

GUY: Thank you. No other questions. WEST: Very briefly. At the FBI lab, you don't limit your analysis just to the computer the automated speaker recognition, is that correct?

NAKASONE: That is correct. Our approach is called in a hybrid approach. It's a method of ultimate speaker recognition by computer supervised by a trained re-examiner and this means the numbers by the computer alone cannot be utilized as a source of a report. The examiner will be conducting his examination independently from computers because human can extract some features that the computers cannot and vice-versa. So always those two components more than together -- ultimately speaker recognition with human in the loop -- that's another term.

WEST: You always have a trained examiner listening, in other words?

NAKASONE: That is correct.

WEST: Your examiners are trained in the various methodologies available for speaker recognition?

NAKASONE: That is correct. The computer cannot really assess whether, you know, inputting the voices produce under influence of alcohol or computer cannot tell right now whether a person was happy, sad or voice was, you know, produced under, you know, abnormal duress. So to detect all of those, we have to depend up on the trained examiners.

COSTELLO: All right. We're going to step away and sort of like at least conclude my show with a synopsis of what happened this morning. Still on the stand that FBI voice analyst.

Sunny Hostin -- she's gone away from me. But that's OK because I have two other great minds with me. So Page Pate, what this testimony boils down to is a person who is familiar with a loved ones voice, is the best person to be able to identify a voice that's on a tape.

PATE: That's right. And that's pretty much common sense. I don't know that we needed an expert to tell the jury that. I think they've probably figured that out on their own.

The one point the defense was able to make with this witness is that if you know the person whose voice it is, you may have some bias. Oh, yes, yes it sounds like him. And then be positive that it is him. So there's some bias but it's mostly -- it's going to be up to the person that knows the guy.

COSTELLO: Well, because you would think that when the defense have their turn to call their witnesses, they're going to put a family member, maybe George Zimmerman's wife on the stand who will say that's my husband's voice screaming on that tape.

JOHNSON: It actually makes it that in the opening. There was a claim I thought was kind of far-fetched. There was an uncle who heard the tape on television in another room and recognized Zimmerman. But again, I agree. I don't see why you needed two hours to tell me water is wet. This doesn't make much sense for them.

COSTELLO: Well, I think Sunny Hostin had a good point when she talked about the defense attorney Don West -- he likes to be very, very thorough.

PATE: He does, obviously. This is not as bad as the knock-knock joke. But I do think he's boring the jury. I think he needs to make his point and be clear about them because. Otherwise the jury is going to miss that.

If you have one good point and you have a witness up for two hours the jury may not have heard that good point. Hit it, hit it hard, but then move on.

COSTELLO: The next logical witness probably will be some member of Trayvon Martin's family, don't you think?

JOHNSON: Right. And I think that will be good. They can say, I've heard him scream. I remember he was excited after a game or this so forth of environment. And also it helps establish the character. Remember Zimmerman's -- you know, the defense is trying to argue, Trayvon attacked him.

If you have a family member u there saying look, that's now who this kid is. I think that's something that really helps the prosecution.

COSTELLO: There's something curious about listening to the 911 call. And we've all heard it a million times. But the screaming stops immediately after the gunshot. As a defense attorney, what does that tell you, Page? PATE: Well, I think it's going to be difficult for George Zimmerman to say he was screaming and then all of a sudden shot Trayvon Martin. I think it's much more likely to conclude -- again using common sense and jurors do that, that the person who was shot was the one that was screaming right up until they were shot.

COSTELLO: Yes, because you would think, you know, after you shoot someone, your adrenaline would be going like mad and you would continue to say something or scream something.

JOHNSON: Well most definitely. You've just killed someone or at least you just shot someone. You didn't know if they're dead -- you would continue screaming, get this body off me. Oh my goodness. That's always been something that the friends are going to have difficulty with why would George Zimmerman stop screaming after shooting as opposed to Trayvon if he just got shot?

COSTELLO: Will the prosecution get into that, you think?

PATE: I think so. If not now -- during the witnesses, they will certainly use that in closing argument and they'll make that argument. And that's what you do as a prosecutor. You can't really argue your case so much through the witnesses, you lay the foundation, you get out the points you hope to make and then try tie it all up in closing arguments.

COSTELLO: So again, we were all surprised because we thought one of the detectives would take the stand. He may during the morning. We just don't know.

But I think you're right Jason. It's more likely that a family member of Trayvon Martin's will take the stand. But we'll see, we'll see. Because hopefully this witness is just about wrapped up on both sides, we don't know.

Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello "NEWSROOM" continues after a break.