May 16, 2013

"Dying man's eye blinks lead to Ohio murder verdict."

"Police interviewed the 35-year-old [victim David] Chandler after he was shot in the head and neck. He was only able to communicate with his eyes and died about two weeks later."
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 hard three times when police asked him if the photo of Woods was the photo of his shooter. He again blinked three times when they asked him if he was sure.

22 comments:

edutcher said...

Right out of the Lone Ranger.

traditionalguy said...

That was an EYE witness' dying declaration. The law is no fool.

David said...

Hard to cross examine, that's for sure.

Astro said...

This is a surprisingly effective, though slow, way to communicate. The last 6 months before my wife passed away she'd lost the ability to talk and this is how we communicated.

Oddly enough, a few months after she passed away I was reading 'The Count of Monte Cristo' and came upon a section where Dumas has a character forced to communicate that way. That was eerie.

Kev said...

(the other kev)

At least he didn't ring a bell chime. Bad things happen when you do that.

Richard Dolan said...

Dying declarations have long been an exception to the hearsay rule. But whether they will also be deemed an exception to the right of confrontation remains to be seen. Don't be surprised if the result turns on how the issue was treated in the 18th centuey, both here and in England.

Derek Brown said...

Reverse Raskalmikov.

madAsHell said...

I dunno.

The accused like pretty angry.

EMD said...

This is being appealed, due to the fact that police only showed one photo of Woods, and not a typical "lineup" of potential shooters.

Dante said...

Dying declarations have long been an exception to the hearsay rule. But whether they will also be deemed an exception to the right of confrontation remains to be seen. Don't be surprised if the result turns on how the issue was treated in the 18th centuey, both here and in England.

Just a note, I think this is really interesting (not that you ought to care, but thanks for posting this).

Saint Croix said...
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Saint Croix said...
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Saint Croix said...

The standard for allowing this sort of deathbed testimony is "unavailability of witness" and "prior opportunity for cross." See Michigan v. Bryant, decided just last year.

Reading Bryant makes me think this conviction will be tossed.

Saint Croix said...

The defense also had argued that showing Chandler only one photo — that of Woods — instead of presenting a lineup of photos was "suggestive."

A witness identifying the wrong person is far and away the biggest reason innocent people are convicted. That's why we require line-ups (including photo line-ups). We don't want to lead the witness or cause prejudice.

Yet the failure to do a line-up is not always unconstitutional. See, for instance, Stovall v. Denno.

Note too that from the newspaper accounts, the victim knew the defendant. (He bought drugs from him). In cases where you actually know the defendant, I think witness identification is extremely reliable.

So this appeal will likely turn on the confrontation clause issue.

Shanna said...

I hope they had some additional evidence...

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...
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SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


Saint Croix said...

A witness identifying the wrong person is far and away the biggest reason innocent people are convicted


I'm less concerned with that, than most folks. It's the maths. Most folks agree that "it is better for 10 guilty people to go free than for one innocent to be convicted".

But what about this:

Q: Is it better is have 7 victims of crime, or 60 victims?

A: No victims is best, but if I had to chose, then 7 are better than 60.

Q: What if I told you that I can tell you the exact name of one of the 7, but, for now, not the other 66?

A: That doesn't change it. 7 is still better than 66.

Q: Well then, perhaps you don't really believe that "it is better for 10 guilty people to go free than for one innocent to be convicted", because with a recidivism rate of 60%, those are the consequences. 7 victims (including 1 identified now), the 66 others later, but certain.

This leaves only "yeah, but in the one case, it is the State that does the crime to the one innocent".

Big deal. Has the same effect on the victims. And 7 are better than 66. The distinction is not worth 59 extra victims.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Big deal. Has the same effect on the victims. And 7 are better than 66. The distinction is not worth 59 extra victims."

-- It is the same reason Galahad would watch as the women threw themselves off the building instead of break his vow of chastity. Another person doing a wrong is a terrible thing; if the only way to stop that is for you to -also- do a bad thing, then you should not lower yourself. Doing bad things for a good reason is one way you start doing bad things for bad reasons.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Pretty sure The State is already doing bad things for bad reasons.

prairie wind said...

Big deal. Has the same effect on the victims. And 7 are better than 66. The distinction is not worth 59 extra victims.

You say that killing one innocent person is worth the cost if it saves 59 extra victims? Killing an innocent person doesn't save ANY victims but let's pretend your argument makes sense. If killing one innocent man saves 59 extra victims, how many innocents do we kill to save all the victims?

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

prairie wind said...

You say that killing one innocent person is worth the cost if it saves 59 extra victims? Killing an innocent person doesn't save ANY victims but let's pretend your argument makes sense.


Well, we would also have to pretend that you actually read and understood my post.

First, I never mentioned killing, but lets go with that anyway.

It is not just "killing one innocent person". It is "killing one innocent person RATHER THAN letting 10 recidivist murders go free, their future murder victim to be named later."

I am attacking, or at least questioning, the un-thinking and unearned, imo, moral high ground claimed by the "better for 10 guilty people to go free than for one innocent to be convicted" people.

I'm sure it feels good to say that phrase, but by going too far to avoid conviction of an innocent, there IS a consequence - just not as up front as the identification of the innocent. Letting 10 murderers go free, condemns 60 future victims. You just get to not think of them (therefore they don't exist!) while you are thinking good thoughts about yourself.

prairie wind said...

I'm just starting my day, so I did misread your comment. Now I get what you're saying. I still stand by the "better ten guilty men go free" statement. It doesn't make me feel better about myself at all because I know there could be more victims from the ones who go free.

Justice is not the same as crime prevention.