Dying Man’s Blinks: Are Paralyzed Man’s Three Blinks Enough To Convict Ricardo Woods?
On Thursday, an Ohio jury convicted a man of murder after the victim blinked three times to identify the alleged killer in a photo. The victim later died from complications from his gunshot wounds. Are a dying man's blinks enough to convict someone of murder?
David Chandler, whose gunshot wounds to the head and neck left him paralyzed, identified his alleged shooter, 34-year-old Ricardo Woods, by blinking three times when police showed Chandler a photo of Woods. According to AP, Chandler was sitting in a car in Cincinnati on Oct. 28, 2010, when Woods reportedly shot him.
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"[The family is] happy that justice has been served," Richard Tucker, Chandler's half-brother, told AP regarding the jury's conviction. "It's been a long time coming."
Detectives interviewed Chandler on Nov. 2, 2010, five days after he was shot in the head. Ten days later, Chandler was dead.
Jurors were later shown the video of police interviewing Chandler, during which he identified Woods with three blinks.
Are three blinks enough to convict someone of murder?
The defense argues that Chandler misidentified Woods and that his blinks were not a reliable method of identification. AP reports that in the video, police repeated some of their questions when Chandler didn't respond or when the number of blinks he gave was unclear. But when police presented Chandler with a photo of Woods and asked him if the man in the photo was the one who shot him, Chandler gave "pronounced, exaggerated movement of the eyes," according to AP.
The defense, however, pointed out that Chandler was only shown one photo, the one of Woods, instead of a lineup of photos from which to choose from.
"Police set up these rules, and they asked him a series of questions," Kory Jackson, Woods' attorney, told ABC News. "There are times he doesn't blink at all in response to questions. There are times he blinks more than three times, so it is often unclear what exactly he is trying to communicate."
Judges have accepted gestures as a means of identifying a perpetrator in the past, by identifications relying on gestures are often cited in trials as unreliable or have various interpretations. Some, however, have been used in murder cases in the U.S. that ended in convictions.
A doctor who treated Chandler also testified in court that Chandler was able to communicate through blinks.
The two other people in the car with Chandler did not identify Woods as the shooter when shown a line-up.
Woods' attorneys plan to appeal the conviction.
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