Ricardo Woods convicted of murder in "blink of an eye"

Ricardo Woods
File , AP Photo/Hamilton County Sheriff's Department
Ricardo Woods
File, AP Photo/Hamilton County Sheriff's Department

(CBS/AP) CINCINNATI - Ricardo Woods, a 35-year-old Ohio man, was found guilty of murder Thursday in the shooting death of a man who authorities say identified Woods as his assailant by blinking his eyes while paralyzed and hooked up to a ventilator.

Wood  was convicted of fatally shooting David Chandler in Cincinnati in October 2010 by a Hamilton County Common Pleas jury that began deliberating Tuesday.

Police interviewed Chandler, who was also 35, whhen he was hooked up to a ventilator and paralyzed, after being shot in the head and neck Oct. 28, 2010, as he sat in a car. He was only able to communicate with his eyes and died about two weeks later.

Prosecutors showed jurors a videotaped police interview in which they say Chandler blinked three times for "yes" to identify a photo of Woods as his shooter. The defense had tried to block the video, saying Chandler's blinks were inconsistent and unreliable.

Woods' attorney, Kory Jackson, said Chandler's conditions and drugs used to treat him could have affected his ability to understand and respond during the police interview.

Judge Beth Myers had watched the video and said that she found the identification reliable. She note that Chandler's identification was made by pronounced, exaggerated movement of the eyes and not by involuntary movements. A doctor who treated Chandler also testified that Chandler was able to communicate clearly about his condition.

In the video, police had to repeat some questions when Chandler failed to respond or when the number of times he blinked appeared unclear. But Chandler blinked his eyes heard three times when police asked him if the photo of Woods was the photo of his shooter. He again blinked three time when they asked him if he was sure.

A jailhouse informant testified that Woods told him he shot at Chandler because he caught him buying drugs from someone else while still owing Woods drug money.

The defense argued that the informant, who faced armed robbery charges, was trying to use testimony against Woods to get a lighter sentence for himself. The defense also said Chandler had stolen drugs from dealers, was considered a police "snitch" and had many enemies.

The defense insisted that Woods was a victim of misidentification and misinformation.

Legal experts say such cases - where prosecutors attempted to show a defendant was identified by a gesture - are not unheard of but are unusual. Dying identifications relying on gestures rather than words are often not used in trials because of concern over reliability or differing interpretations. But some have been used in murder cases around the country that have ended in convictions.

In addition to the murder charge, Ricardo Woods also was convicted of felonious assault.  He could be sentenced to life in prison.

Complete coverage of the Ricardo Woods-David Chandler case on Crimesider