George Zimmerman, who called 911 prior to shooting young teen Trayvon Martin in a case that has become a national scandal, has been both accused of racism and exonerated of it by outside sources. But in recent days, both the accusation of racism and its defense have come to hinge on a tiny portion of the recorded 911 call, in which Zimmerman sounds like he utters the phrase “f–king coons” under his breath while following Martin. “Coon” is, of course, a racial slur for African Americans. The snippet of audio is so quick – 1.6 seconds – and Martin’s voice is so soft when he says it, that it’s easy to mistake for radio static.

Fortunately, CNN is on the case, and had their audio specialist isolate the 1.6 seconds involved, modify it so background noise was removed, and played it back. And while the CNN anchor involved declined to state definitively whether the slur was used, both the editor and the anchor said it sounded an awful lot like it was, especially when the word alone was isolated. Mediaite discovered the segment and linked it. You can watch and decide for yourself below:

Zimmerman’s usage of this slur has further implications than simply his personal character. It bolsters the idea that his killing of Trayvon Martin was at least partially racially motivated, making the case potentially a federal hate crime, rather than a state-level instance of reckless or negligent homicide.