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Ohio Judge Allows Blinks As Evidence; Defense May Appeal


A judge has allowed a videotape of a man blinking to be considered testimony in an Ohio murder trial. Prosecutors claim the video, in which the dying man participated in a police interview by blinking, is an acceptable form of evidence, but the defense argued against accepting the tape, asserting that the testimony it contains is not conclusive.

The 35-year-old man was shot in the head as he sat in his car in October of 2010. He survived the attack, but was paralyzed and required a ventilator to breath. In the videotaped interview, he used a series of eye blinks to respond to detectives' interview questions. He died while in the hospital, about two weeks after being shot.

The judge said that the man identified his attacker as "O," a title allegedly used by the man who is currently on trial for murder. The judge ruled that it is unlikely that the victim misidentified his attacker, but according to the defense, did disagree with the way investigators interpreted several of the man's blinks. Still, the judge decided that the victim's blinking was intentional and exaggerated and not the result of involuntary muscle activity.

The defense may ask a physician to review the victim's records to see if his state or any medication he was using at the time of the interview would have had any effect on his ability to properly comprehend and answer questions. If the physician determines that any medical factors may have compromised the legitimacy of the interview, the defense attorney might ask the judge to view the new evidence and consider changing her ruling. Hopefully the judge rules based on what is most fair for all parties involved in the trial.

Source: Associated Press, "Judge: Blinks OK as testimony in Ohio murder trial," Sept. 22, 2011