Five days after Melvin Nathaniel Pate was shot in the face, he was immobile in a hospital bed, hooked up to a ventilator with a tube down his throat, wires emanating from his body and a brace restraining movement of his head.

Investigators in Prince George's County, Maryland, came to his room and asked for his help identifying the man who shot and left him paralyzed. They showed him a photo lineup of six people.

Unable to talk or communicate otherwise, Pate blinked. That is how he identified Jermaine Hailes, 23, as the man who allegedly shot him in November 2010. Two years later Pate, 29, died of complications from the gunshot wound.