A Maryland jury found a man guilty of murder after seeing a video in which the paralyzed victim, who later died, blinked to identify the man who shot him.
On Wednesday, a jury in Prince George’s County found Jermaine Hailes, 25, guilty of murder in the 2010 killing of Melvin Pate, 29.
Jurors were shown a video in which Pate, who could not speak after he was shot in November 2010, blink from his hospital bed at a photo of his shooter in a photo lineup, prosecutors told NBC Washington.
“They told the victim to blink once hard if he recognized someone in the photos he was shown. So, it wasn’t the involuntary blink that we all do. It was truly a closing of his eyes and opening them and you could see the tears coming from the side of his eyes as he identified the man who was his killer,” prosecutor Christine Murphy told the news station.
Prince George County Police
Pate survived as a quadriplegic for two years before dying from his injuries in 2012. At that time, the murder case was in the middle of a years-long appeal process to determine whether or not the video of him blinking would be admissible in court.
The Maryland Court of appeals ultimately ruled to allow prosecutors to show the video. Prosecutors believe this case marks just the fourth time in U.S. history that a murder victim’s non-verbal identification has been used as evidence in a trial, according to The Washington Post.
Hailes, who was also found guilty of second-degree murder, robbery, assault and other related charges, faces life in prison.
“I’m just glad it’s over with. My son can rest in peace now,” the victim’s mother, Felicia Pate told NBC Washington. “My son had no chance at all. [Haile’s parents] can go see their son. I can’t see mine. Mine is at home in a box.”