CINCINNATI: An Ohio man prosecutors say identified his shooter using eye blinks before he died was able to communicate clearly about his condition despite being paralyzed from the waist down, a doctor who treated him testified Monday.
Testimony was halted in the afternoon so a judge could consider arguments about planned upcoming testimony in the murder trial of Ricardo Woods.
Woods is accused of shooting David Chandler in Oct. 2010, leaving Chandler paralyzed. But police say Chandler was able to blink his eyes to identify a photo of Woods as the man who shot him.
Woods’ defense has sought unsuccessfully to have that interview kept out of the trial. His attorneys insist the blinks were inconsistent and unreliable. Prosecutors plan to show video of Chandler’s police interview to the jurors.
Testifying for the prosecution, Dr. Jordan Bonomo described Monday how Chandler used blinks and mouth movements in their discussions of his condition and treatment. He said Chandler, 35, clearly asked hospital intensive-care doctors to try to keep him alive, before his condition deteriorated and he died about two weeks after the shooting.
Asked if Chandler participated in discussions about his condition, Bonomo replied: “Yes, often and clearly.”
Woods’ defense suggested in cross-examination that Chandler’s memory and understanding may have been affected by trauma, but Bonomo said Chandler was very communicative, using the tedious system of blinking responses.
“I didn’t ever have a doubt,” he said of Chandler’s ability to understand.
Jurors will have to determine whether Chandler was alert and communicating clearly when he used blinks to identify Woods’ photo.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Beth Myers told the jury Monday afternoon only that the court had legal issues to consider before testimony resumes Tuesday morning.
Among other issues, defense attorneys have challenged planned prosecution testimony from a man prosecutors say Woods told in jail that he had shot Chandler. Prosecutors have said the inmate says Woods told him he wasn’t trying to kill Chandler, but was trying to scare him when he went to buy drugs from another dealer.
The defense contends Chandler had many enemies, including drug dealers he stole from. Woods’ attorneys say he is a victim of misinformation and misidentification.
Woods was charged with murder, felonious assault and weapons counts in the Chandler shooting.
While rare, such nonverbal communication has been used by prosecutors in other trials. In Boynton Beach, Fla., two men were convicted of first-degree murder in the 2007 shooting of man who identified them from a photo lineup with eye blinks before he died.