Innocence Project Fights Eye Blinking Evidence in Murder Trial


An Ohio murder trial involving a questionable identification procedure where the victim identified the defendant through a series of eye blinks from his hospital bed was postponed amid efforts from the Innocence Project to suppress a videotape of the deathbed identification.


David Chandler was shot in the head and neck while sitting in his car in Cincinnati on October 28, 2010. Paralyzed from his injuries, Chandler was questioned by police a few days after the shooting. Rather than conduct a photo lineup, police showed Chandler a single photo of Ricardo Woods, informing him that Woods was the suspect, and then asked Chandler if he believed Woods was the person who had shot him. Chandler was instructed to blink three times for yes and twice for no in response to questions. He died 10 days after the interview.


Last week, the Innocence Project filed a motion asking the court to consider new evidence, including scientific research on eyewitness misidentification, which is the leading cause of wrongful convictions later overturned through DNA testing. The motion argues that the police’s use of a single photo versus a photo lineup was suggestive and notes that the two other people in Chandler’s car did not identify Woods in a photo lineup. The Cincinnati Inquirer reports:

Karen Newirth, an eyewitness identification expert for the Innocence Project, spent about 10 minutes telling the judge how unreliable eyewitness identification is.


Newirth said 75 percent of wrongful convictions the Innocence Project has helped overturn were overturned because of wrongful identification of the accused. Newirth told the judge scientific evidence has shown eyewitness identification, especially the one used by Cincinnati police in this case, “was too suggestive.”

The case returns to court on February 26 to try to settle all motions, and the new trial date is April 29. Woods faces life in prison if convicted.


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