By AMANDA LEE MYERS
Captivated jurors in a Cincinnati murder trial watched video Tuesday that prosecutors say shows a dying, paralyzed shooting victim who couldn’t speak identifying a photo of his killer by blinking his eyes.
Over the unsuccessful and repeated objections of defense attorneys, prosecutors showed the jury a 17-minute video of shooting victim David Chandler, 35, in which he answers detectives’ questions by blinking twice to say “no” and three times for “yes.”
Ricardo Woods, 35, is charged with Chandler’s October 2010 murder and has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say that in the video, Chandler clearly identifies Woods as his attacker, while Woods’ attorneys argue that his blinks were inconsistent and unreliable. The video is considered the key piece of evidence in the trial. Jurors will have to determine whether Chandler appears alert and knew what he was doing when he said “yes” to Woods’ photo.
In the video, police have to repeat some questions when Chandler fails to respond or when the number of times he blinks is unclear.
But when police show Chandler a picture of Woods and ask him if he was the man who shot him, Chandler looks at it for a couple seconds before blinking his eyes hard three times, opening them wide in between each blink. When police ask him whether he’s sure that’s the person who shot him, he again blinks three times.
All the jurors watched the video closely, some silently moving their lips as they appeared to count the blinks and some taking notes. One woman appeared upset by the video, which shows a clearly struggling Chandler lying in a hospital bed, his face and body connected to tubes and machines, his vital signs on display in the background.
Woods, dressed in a brown suit, sat quietly watching the video.
Cincinnati police Detective Howard Grant testified earlier in the day that he had “no concern at all” that Chandler understood what he was being asked and pointed out that he’d answered many questions by blinking before being asked to identify the shooter.
Also Tuesday, a jailhouse informant testified that Woods told him that he killed Chandler because he caught him buying drugs from someone else while still owing Woods money.
The informant, Jermaine Beard, is facing four counts of armed robbery that could carry a prison term of up to 56 years.
Defense attorneys questioned Beard’s motives, pointing out that he testified in two other murder cases and getting him to acknowledge that he was trying to get a light sentence for himself by helping prosecutors.
In opening statements last week, defense attorney Wendy Calaway told jurors that Woods did not shoot Chandler, calling him “an innocent man who found himself in a perfect storm of misinformation and misidentification.”
She said that Chandler had stolen drugs from dealers, was considered a police “snitch” and had many enemies.