Judge to Decide if Paralyzed Victim's ID of Suspect By Blinking is Admissible in Court

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    NEWSLETTERS

    State prosecutors in Prince George's County want a dying man's blinking declaration admitted as evidence in his murder trial. Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports. (Published Friday, Nov 1, 2013)

    A judge said he will spend the next two weeks mulling over whether video evidence of a paralyzed man identifying a suspect by blinking his eyes is admissible in court. 

    Jermaine Hailes is charged with murder in the death of Melvin Pate, who was left paralyzed and unable to speak after being found shot in a car in Capitol Heights, Md., in November 2010. 

    Pate died two years later as a result of injuries from the shooting, and his death was ruled a homicide.

    Authorities say Pate identified Hailes by looking at a collection of photos and blinking when he saw Hailes' photo. The identification process was recorded on video and shown during a hearing Friday. 

    "He couldn't move," Baltimore Shock Trauma nurse Tina Keener said. "All he had was blinking. His mental state was intact and he was blinking to improvise."

    This would be only the fourth time that a blinking identification was admitted into trial. It's been permitted in cases in Indiana, Ohio and Florida.

    "[Pate] was able to clearly look at each photo and was able to blink... it wasn’t an involuntary blink," prosecutor Christine Murphy said. "It was a deliberate opening and closing of his eyes."

    Hailes and three other suspects were arrested shortly after Pate's death in November 2012 on charges including first- and second-degree murder.

    "I just want justice for my son," Pate's mother Felicia Pate said after Friday's hearing.

    The judge will decide whether or not to include the video in two weeks.

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