Dying man's blinks lead to murder verdict

2013-05-17 14:03
Ricardo Woods shown in this undated photo provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Deptartment, is charged with murdering David Chandler. (AP)

Ricardo Woods shown in this undated photo provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Deptartment, is charged with murdering David Chandler. (AP)

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Cincinnati - A US man was found guilty of murder on Thursday after his paralysed victim identified him by blinking during a police interview.

The defense had tried to block a police video of the interview, saying David Chandler's blinking was inconsistent and unreliable. A jury convicted Ricardo Woods, aged 35, of murder and felonious assault.

Police interviewed the 35-year-old Chandler after he was shot in the head and neck in October 2010. He was paralyzed and hooked up to a ventilator and was only able to communicate with his eyes. He died about two weeks later.

Woods faces up to life in prison.

Prosecutors say showed Chandler blinked three times for "yes" to identify a photo of Woods as his shooter. The defense had argued that showing Chandler only one photo - that of Woods - instead of presenting a lineup of photos was "suggestive."

Defense attorney Kory Jackson said on Thursday there would be an appeal. Jackson had argued that Chandler's condition and drugs used to treat him could have affected his ability to understand and respond during the police interview.

Jocelyn Chess, an assistant county prosecutor, said justice was served.

After watching the video, Judge Beth Myers said she found the identification reliable. She noted that Chandler's identification was made by pronounced, exaggerated movement of the eyes and not by involuntary movements.

Legal experts say such cases - where prosecutors attempt to show a defendant was identified by a gesture - are not unheard of but are unusual.

Dying identifications relying on gestures rather than words are often not used in trials because of concern over reliability or differing interpretations.

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