Group wants man's eye blinks barred as testimony in murder case

CINCINNATI -- The national Innocence Project is backing a murder suspect's efforts to exclude from his trial a videotape of a dying man's eye blinks, which prosecutors say identify him as the gunman.

Ricardo Woods is scheduled to go on trial Monday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in the fatal shooting of David Chandler. Chandler, 35, was shot in the head and neck as he was sitting in his car in Cincinnati on Oct. 28, 2010. He was paralyzed from his injuries and could only communicate with his eyes when police interviewed him a few days after the shooting.

Chandler was hooked up to a ventilator in the hospital when police questioned him about the person who shot him. They showed him Woods' photo and instructed him to blink three times for yes and twice for no as they videotaped his responses. Chandler didn't respond with blinks to every question in the 17-minute video and sometimes blinked one time, but triple blinks came in response to repeated questions asking if he knew the shooter and whether the person in the photo was the culprit. Chandler died 10 days after the interview.

Prosecutors said Chandler clearly identified Woods as the shooter, and Judge Beth Myers found that the blinks were reliable and were made by pronounced eye movements and not by involuntary blinking. She ruled in 2011 that jurors will be allowed to see the videotape. But the defense insists the identification wasn't reliable and has asked the judge to reconsider.

The Innocence Project, a criminal justice organization which has succeeded in freeing wrongfully convicted prisoners through DNA evidence and also works to prevent wrongful convictions, last week filed a motion supporting the defense request.