CINCINNATI: An Ohio man who 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.
Testifying at the murder trial of Ricardo Woods, Dr. Jordan Bonomo described how David Chandler used blinks and mouth movements in their discussions of his condition and treatment. He said Chandler 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.”
Authorities allege Chandler, 35, used blinking responses to identify Woods as the man who fatally shot him in 2010. Woods’ defense insists the blinks prosecutors cite as identifying him were inconsistent and unreliable.
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 his ability to understand.
Prosecutors plan to show the video of Chandler’s police interview as they present their case in a Hamilton County Common Pleas court trial expected to last three weeks. Jurors will have to determine whether Chandler was alert and was communicating clearly when he used blinks to identify a photo of Woods as his shooter.
Prosecutors say Chandler owed money to Woods for drugs. The defense says 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.
The judge has rejected earlier defense efforts to block the videotaped testimony from the trial.
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.