The Trayvon Martin Case Could Come Down to One Garbled Word

A key issue in the case (or non-case) against George Zimmerman, who killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin last month, has to do with less than a second of difficult-to-make-out audio. Did Zimmerman utter a racial slur during the 911 call that preceded the shooting, or didn’t he?

Jeff Toobin explains why it matters to the CNN wire staff:

“It’s extremely, extremely significant, because the federal government is not allowed to prosecute just your ordinary, everyday murder,” he said. “Two people fighting on the street is not a federal crime. However, if one person shoots another based on racial hostility, racial animus, that does become a federal crime.”

Unfortunately, “A top CNN audio engineer enhanced the sound of the 911 call, and several members of CNN’s editorial staff repeatedly reviewed the tape but could reach no consensus.” This does not bode well for those of us hoping to at least get this one question answered.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.