Ohio man gets 36 years to life in dying blink case

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CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio man convicted in a murder trial that hinged on a paralyzed victim blinking his eyes to identify his shooter was sentenced Thursday to 36 years to life in prison.

A jury last month convicted Ricardo Woods, 35, of murder and felonious assault in the death of David Chandler, who was shot in the head and neck on Oct. 28, 2010, as he sat in a car in Cincinnati. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 37 years to life, the maximum, while the defense had asked the judge for the minimum, 18 years to life.

Police interviewed Chandler in the hospital, and he was only able to communicate with his eyes. He died about two weeks later.

During the trial, jurors viewed the videotaped police interview that prosecutors say showed Chandler blinking 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 stood stoically before the Hamilton County Judge Beth Myers on Thursday, showing no visible emotion as she sentenced him. Myers said that the sentence she gave him was “necessary to protect the public and punish Mr. Woods.”

Assistant county Prosecutor David Prem told the judge prior to the sentencing that Woods’ previous criminal history, including prison terms for attempting to kill someone and trafficking in cocaine, should be taken into account.

“He is a dangerous and violent offender,” Prem said, adding that it was time for the Chandler family and the state of Ohio to get justice.

Defense attorney Kory Jackson told the judge that Woods has “always maintained that he is not guilty and still maintains that today.”

Woods nodded yes when the judge said she understood that he planned to appeal.

Jackson has said that he expects the Chandler interview video to play a role in the appeal. The judge told Woods that the court would appoint an attorney to represent him on appeal.

A doctor who treated Chandler testified during the trial that Chandler was able to communicate clearly. But the defense argued that Chandler’s condition and drugs used to treat him could have hindered his ability to understand and respond during the police interview.

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 money for drugs. But the defense argued that the informant, who faced armed robbery charges, was trying to get a lighter sentence for himself. Defense attorneys also said Chandler stole drugs from other dealers and had many enemies.

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