Paralysed victim used blinks to identify killer
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 20 June 2013
Before he finally died from his injuries, paralysed shooting victim David Chandler was able to identify his killer with the only means of communication he had left: blinking his eyes.
Today, an Ohio judge sentenced Ricardo Woods, 35, to 36 years to life in prison for Chandler’s murder. The case drew national interest thanks to the prosecution’s key item of evidence: a video interview with the silent victim, taped at his hospital bedside.
During the interview, police asked Chandler to blink three times for yes, and twice for no, as he responded to their questions. He blinked three times to indicate that he knew the gunman, and then identified Woods from a photo. He was even able to name his killer, by indicating the letter “O” from the alphabet. Woods, a drug dealer, often went by the street name “O”.
Chandler, who was 35, was shot in the head and neck while sitting in a parked car in Cincinnati on 28 October 2010. A prison informant testified that Woods had told him he shot Chandler because he saw him buying drugs from another dealer, despite owing Woods $400.
Chandler was left paralysed from the neck down and unable to speak, but his family devised a system of blinks. He slid into a coma and died on 12 November 2010. His mother, Jean Bradford, said after Woods’ sentencing, “His mother can go visit him and talk to him. Only thing I know is to go to a cemetery and talk to a wall.”
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