BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) –The man convicted of murder following an eye blink identification will learn his fate Thursday in Prince George’s County.
It took only the blink of an eye for Melvin Pate to identify the man who shot him after a 2010 shooting left him paralyzed and unable to talk.
But it took years of legal back-and-forth after Pate died over the validity of that identification before prosecutors were able to use it to secure the shooter’s conviction.
On June 8, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office announced Jermaine Hailes, 26, was found guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, assault and related charges in connection with Pate’s death.
Pate was found shot inside a vehicle in Capitol Heights back on Nov. 22, 2010. While he was hospitalized, investigators showed him a photo lineup of multiple suspects to find out who pulled the trigger. He blinked when he saw Hailes’ picture.
In 2012, Pate, 29, died of injuries stemming from the shooting. Days later, Hailes was arrested and charged with his murder. Following his death, defense attorneys questioned whether Pate was deliberately blinking at Hailes’ photo. They also questioned whether police influenced his reaction.
Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Leo Green ruled that Pate’s identification was credible and a dying declaration. But he determined that Hailes had a right to face his accuser; without that opportunity, the judge wouldn’t allow video of the blink to be presented as evidence.
The Maryland Court of Appeals later overturned that ruling, saying the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment does not apply to dying declarations, so Pate did not need to be present for the video to be shown in court.
Hailes’ sentencing is set for tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.
He faces life in prison for the 2010 murder.