David Camm

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David Camm
BornDavid Ray Camm
(1964-03-23) March 23, 1964 (age 49)
Floyd County, Indiana, U.S.
Known forIndiana retired state trooper, who became a legal and local news cause celebre, for being tried three times for the murders of his wife and two children (two reversed convictions, acquitted after third trial)
Home townGeorgetown, Indiana, U.S.
 
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David Camm
BornDavid Ray Camm
(1964-03-23) March 23, 1964 (age 49)
Floyd County, Indiana, U.S.
Known forIndiana retired state trooper, who became a legal and local news cause celebre, for being tried three times for the murders of his wife and two children (two reversed convictions, acquitted after third trial)
Home townGeorgetown, Indiana, U.S.

David Ray Camm is a former Indiana state trooper acquitted after three trials for the murders of his wife and two children at their Georgetown, Indiana home on September 28, 2000.[1] He was convicted twice, both reversed in the court of appeals, and was acquitted during the third trial.[2]

The case was covered extensively by the media in the southern Indiana and the Louisville, Kentucky area following the crime and was featured on several national programs, including 48 Hours, Dateline, and Nancy Grace. Camm's conviction also attracted the attention of wrongful conviction advocacy groups.[3][4]

The case underwent a long series of revisions to the theory of the crime to accommodate new forensic evidence and the discovery of a second suspect, a career criminal named Charles Boney, who has since been convicted and is serving a 225 year sentence for the murders.[5] The prosecutorial misconduct in the case has been profiled in a forensic textbook called Forensic Fraud: Evaluating Law Enforcement and Forensic Science Cultures in the Context of Examiner Misconduct.[6]

Initial Investigation[edit]

Police were summoned to the Camm residence shortly after 9:30 on September 28, 2000 to find Kim, Brad, and Jill Camm shot to death in the garage of their home. Camm told police that he returned home from playing basketball at a nearby church and found his wife shot to death on the floor of the garage. He then saw his children sitting in the backseat. Camm stated that he thought his son may still be alive, so he pulled him out and attempted CPR. Eleven witnesses told police he was with them playing basketball at the time of the murder.[7]

The investigation of the murders was hampered from the beginning by several false leads. The theory of the crime at the time of the arrest was that Camm returned home from playing basketball, shot his family, attempted a clean-up, before abandoning the clean-up attempt and calling the Sellersburg State Police post for help.[8] The evidence at the time of arrest included three loud bangs heard by David Camm's next door neighbor, his aunt, around 9:30 p.m., shortly after Camm returned home from playing basketball. She was adamant they were not gunshots, but the police assumed she was mistaken and included that information on the probable cause affidavit.[9] Rob Stites, a crime scene photographer who was believed by the police to be a blood spatter analyst, told police there was a clean up at the crime scene and high velocity impact spatter on the shirt Camm was wearing.[10]

The probable cause affidavit contained a description of a tear to Jill's genitals, suggestive of molestation.[11] The last piece of incriminating evidence was a phone bill seeming to indicate Camm had made a phone call from the residence at 7:19 pm on the evening of the murder. He claimed to be playing basketball at the church from 7pm to approximately 9:30pm that evening. Camm also had had a history of infidelity, which police believed was the motive for the murders.[7][12]

Before long, the erroneous nature of several pieces of evidence was revealed. While the infidelity accusations were credible, it was discovered that most of the rest of the evidence on the probable cause affidavit was either inaccurate or unreliable.[12] Based on the autopsies and other evidence, the time of death was determined to be around 8 pm, far earlier than the original estimate of 9:30 pm, giving Camm an alibi and proving the noises the neighbor heard were not gunshots.[13][14] The phone call that seemed to prove Camm was lying about his alibi was disproven. The phone company discovered the inaccuracy stemmed from the confusion regarding Indiana's complicated time zones. The call actually was made an hour earlier, at 6:19 pm.[10][12][15][16]

The clean up at the crime scene and the blood spatter on David's shirt were also called into question. It was discovered that there was not in fact a crime scene clean up, but the normal separation of blood when exposed to air for a period of time. Several other areas that Stites had claimed to be high velocity impact spatter found at the crime scene were found to be inaccurate interpretations, calling into question Stites' abilities.[10][17] The "tear" that Jill had turned out to be an inaccuracy as well. Jill had blunt force trauma to the area, but an intact hymen.[11]

Shortly before the first trial, Rod Englert, Stites' boss, analyzed the spots on David's shirt and agreed with Stites' analysis that they were high velocity impact spatter. Defense experts assert that the pattern was caused by transfer when his shirt came in contact with Jill's hair as he was removing his son from the vehicle.[18]

Trials and appeals[edit]

First Trial[edit]

The case went to trial in the spring of 2002 with the blood spatter as the main forensic evidence and the affairs listed as the motive and Camm was convicted.[19]

In August 2004, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the conviction. The court cited the trial judge's decision to allow testimony from a dozen women who claimed they had affairs with Camm or had been propositioned by him, which unfairly biased the jury because the prosecutor did not adequately connect those relationships with the murders.[7][19][20] In November 2004, prosecutor Keith Henderson refiled charges against Camm.[19]

Discovery of a second suspect[edit]

In early 2005, the defense asked that DNA from two unknown persons found on a sweatshirt at the crime scene be run through CODIS again. A match was found for the male DNA and it was discovered that that particular DNA sample was never run prior to the first trial despite assurances from the prosecutor that the sample had been analyzed and returned no matches. Charles Boney, a convicted felon from nearby New Albany was identified as the owner of the sweatshirt. He was out on parole at the time of the crime, having been convicted of committing a series of armed attacks on women, several of them involving the theft of shoes.[21] The most recent attack was the armed robbery and attempted abduction of three women at gunpoint.[22]

In some cases, there was evidence of stalking as well; some of Boney's previous victims had reported receiving harassing phone calls for a couple months prior to the attacks asking them what they were wearing and if they were wearing high heeled shoes.[23] He had previously admitted to police that he had a foot fetish, a detail he later discussed with numerous news outlets. This detail was suspicious to the defense: Kim Camm's shoes were removed and lined up neatly on top of the vehicle in the midst of a messy crime scene. Kim had a series of bruises and abrasions to the top of both of her feet.[24] Boney was interviewed and took a polygraph, in which he was determined to be deceptive. He claimed that he donated the sweatshirt to charity and was cleared as a suspect.[25] Two weeks later, his palm print was discovered on Kim's vehicle and he was arrested.[26]

Boney gave a number of conflicting confessions before he finally settled on one in which he was lured to the Camm residence under the guise of selling a gun to David Camm. He admits to placing the shoes on the vehicle, but claims he did it only coincidentally and not related to his foot fetish. Boney claims that Sept 28 he arrived at 7 pm to meet David at the Camm residence to sell him a weapon—a meeting they arranged through chance meetings and without the use of a telephone. He hands Camm the weapon wrapped in his gray sweatshirt that was later found at the crime scene. Within seconds, Kim arrives home in her Bronco, Camm follows the bronco into the garage and Boney hears three shots fired. Boney alleges that Camm then attempted to shoot him and stated "you did this". He claims that the gun either jammed or ran out of bullets. With Camm holding a now non-functioning weapon, Boney ran after Camm, chasing him back into the garage. Camm entered the house while Boney tripped and fell over Kim's shoes, which were off of her feet and on the garage floor. Boney stated that he picked up the shoes and placed them atop the Bronco. He then leaned against the vehicle to look at Brad and Jill, who were inside the vehicle, deceased. He explains that this is why his hand print was found on the vehicle.[27][28] (note: based on testimony from other prosecution witnesses, Kim, Brad, and Jill were still alive and at the pool until 7:15pm, which conflicts with Boney's claims.[29] The medical examiner also testified that the likely time of death was around 8pm.[13] This timeline also conflicts with the timeline that the prosecution is alleging)[30]

The other DNA sample was later identified as belonging to Mala Singh Mattingly, Boney's then girlfriend.[31] Aside from Boney's story, no additional evidence has been recovered to connect David Camm and Charles Boney.[28]

Second Trial[edit]

Following Boney's arrest in 2005, Camm and Boney were charged as co-conspirators in the murder of Kim and her children.[32] Boney was tried first, convicted, and sentenced to 225 years in prison.[19][33][33]

Camm's trial began on January 17, 2006. With the affairs now inadmissible, prosecutor Keith Henderson argued that Camm was molesting their daughter and he killed his family to cover up the crime.[34] A medical examiner who testified for the defense disagreed: "The blunt force trauma came from the child being kicked or struck with an object".[35] The prosecution now had to alter their theory of the crime to accommodate Charles Boney's presence at the crime scene. They presented Boney's story that asserted Camm was still the shooter but Boney was there selling him the gun.

Camm was convicted a second time on March 3, 2006 and was sentenced to life without parole.[19][36] Following the verdict, the jurors explained that they made their decision largely on the molestation allegations.[37] He appealed the conviction and a second reversal was granted. The supreme court stated: "Missing from this record is any competent evidence of the premise that the defendant molested the child."[38]

Despite being apparently quite persuasive to the jury when she testified for the prosecution, medical examiner Betty Spivack was hesitant to say conclusively that it was molestation, stating: “I can't tell you how that happened or what it was (that caused it), but that it was painful”, Spivak said. “It would have caused the child to complain and seek treatment.”[39] The nature and the cause of Jill's injuries remain a mystery. Camm denies ever abusing his daughter and has never been charged with any molestation-related offense.[40] Boney's DNA was subsequently found on the clothing of both Kim and Jill, including an area on the stomach of Jill Camm's shirt, and it was argued at the third trial that Boney was responsible for the substantial amount of injuries they sustained in the deadly attack.[39][41]

In December 2009, Prosecutor Keith Henderson refiled charges against Camm.[42] The trial was moved to Boone County, Indiana to avoid the heavy media coverage in Floyd county.[43][44]

Third trial[edit]

Having had two prior motives ruled inadmissible, the alleged motive given in this trial was the life insurance policies recently purchased by Kim Camm.[45][46]

The third trial saw the introduction of new DNA evidence that wasn't presented in the first two trials. Dr. Richard Eikelenboom testified that he found touch DNA consistent with Boney in several places on the clothing of both Kim and Jill Camm. Boney's DNA was found on Kim Camm's panties, the arm of her shirt (above an abrasion on her arm thought to be the result of the struggle with her killer), on Kim's broken off fingernail, and on the stomach of Jill Camm's shirt. These results seem to discredit Boney's assertion that he never touched the victims. Defense co-counsel Stacy Uliana argued that if Boney physically attacked the family, which the DNA seems to suggest, it is unlikely that David is the shooter. "He physically attacked Dave's family, so now what's the state's theory? That Boney attacked Dave's family, and Dave said ‘scoot over, let me shoot them?'"[47]

New Theory of the Crime[edit]

With the touch DNA evidence placing Boney in a more active role in the crime, the prosecution introduced yet another theory of the crime near the end of the third trial when Judge Dartt made a controversial ruling that the jury instructions could include an instruction allowing the jury to find Camm guilty if they believe he "aided and abetted" Boney during the murders. This instruction applied if the jury believed Camm had involvement in the murders, but was not the shooter. The defense strenuously objected to the inclusion of this instruction, citing not only the complete lack of evidence that Camm had ever even met Boney, but that the instruction violated the law against double jeopardy. Camm had been acquitted on conspiracy charges during the second trial.[48]

Camm's family was outraged at what they perceived to be an unfair ruling and considered this to be a misstep worthy of another appeal in the event of a conviction.[49] Louisville defense attorney Steve Romines agreed it would make it easier to appeal the conviction adding "This aiding and abetting: they don't have any evidence to support it. It's really inconsistent with their proof."[50] Camm's defense attorneys argued this new theory of the crime essentially throws out the blood spatter evidence — the only major piece of forensic evidence tying David to the crime. Following the verdict, Richard Kammen stated: "All the sudden to say 'well if all our evidence is wrong, go ahead and convict him anyway' this jury was a smart jury, they clearly saw through that."[49][51]

Defense co-counsel Stacy Uliana cautioned jurors about the aiding and abetting juror instructions, saying: "This is completely inconsistent with what they've been saying for 13 years. If that's their argument, you make them show you evidence." adding "We don't want to speculate a man into prison." Prosecutors impressed on the jury that Boney was "minimizing" his role in the crime.[52]

Acquittal[edit]

On October 24, 2013, a jury found Camm not guilty of all charges.[53][54] Camm's attorney's described it as "vindication".[51]

Response to the Case[edit]

Verdict[edit]

The public reaction to the verdict has been mixed. Many Louisville and Southern Indiana residents who lived through the extensive media coverage were surprised by the not guilty verdict in the third trial. In reaction to the verdict, a local resident stated “A lot of people are — just like I am — completely shocked, and a lot of people think that he should not be out.”[55] After the third trial, a juror, in response to the question “Do you think that they intentionally wanted to convict an innocent man?” responded “I would hope not but…I sense that the State Police had a hard time admitting that they had made a mistake.”[56]Nationally, the Camm case has garnered a lot of attention from wrongful conviction advocacy groups who believe that the previous convictions were miscarriages of justice.[3][4] Bill Lamb, President and General Manager of WDRB, the Fox affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky, issued a public apology to David Camm stating: "Seven years ago, I did a Point of View criticizing David Camm's attorneys for seeking yet another appeal right after his second conviction for the murder of his family. I wondered when Indiana taxpayers would get to stop paying fortunes in trial expenses, and why any accused killer could possibly deserve so many 'do-overs'. Well, now we have the answer: When they're not guilty."[57]

In early December 2013, Camm met with jurors in the third trial over dinner at a cafe in Lebanon, Indiana; also in attendance were Camm's relatives and members of his defense team. The dinner lasted five hours.[58]

Media Coverage[edit]

In December 2013, the case was the subject of an episode of 48 Hours on CBS. It is the third time 48 Hours has covered the case.[12] In January 2014, Dateline on NBC aired a two hour special entitled Mystery on Lockart Road.[59] Two books have been written about the case: One Deadly Night was published in 2005, and Searching For Justice in 2013, as well as a chapter in Jane Velez-Mitchell's book Secrets Can Be Murder: The killer next door[60] .[61][62] In December 2013, Camm gave his first local media interview following the verdict.[63] Camm attempted to clear up the misconceptions regarding Boney's criminal history: "The thing that people need to know about Boney ... 11 previous felony convictions for assaulting women. That's what he's done his whole adult life: assault women. The three girls that he took hostage in Bloomington, Indiana. He held a gun to the girl's head and threatened to blow her head off. It's exactly what he did to Kim. He just went one step further." Camm also announced that he had been hired as a case coordinator for Investigating Innocence, a national nonprofit that provides criminal-defense investigations for inmates.[63]

Blood Spatter[edit]

The heavy reliance on blood spatter evidence in this case was widely criticized. In his review of the case, Former federal prosecutor Kent Wicker said "Blood spatter evidence has come under a lot of criticism in the past few years. In 2009 The National Academy of Sciences issued a report criticizing the scientific foundation of that." The report released by The National Academy of Sciences calls for more standardization within a number of forensic fields including blood spatter analysis. The report highlights the ability of blood spatter analysts to overstate the reliability of their methods in the court room.[64] Dr. Robert Shaler, Founding Director of the Penn State Forensic Science Program, decried blood spatter analysis as unreliable in the Camm case. "The problem in this case is the number of stains are minimal," he said. "I think you're really on the edge of reliability." Dr. Shaler said blood stain pattern analysis as a science is "essentially guesswork". The problem with blood spatter analysis is that "you do not have the supporting underlying science" to back up your conclusions. All of the blood spatter analysts involved in the case from the start (aside from Rob Stites) have been "experts" in the traditional sense. The problem is "We have two opinions in this case. That, in essence, is a 50 percent error rate." An unacceptable level of reliability in a court case when the perception of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is what is required.[65]

Police/Prosecutorial Misconduct[edit]

A number of legal experts have criticized the way the case was handled. Thomas Schornhorst, a professor emeritus of the Indiana University School of Law, said the case has been overturned repeatedly because they have pushed the envelope with other evidence fearing that they wouldn't get a conviction on bloodstain evidence alone.[19] Law professor Shawn Boyne highlighted the Camm trials as an example of the problems within the American justice system. Boyne stated that the judges in these trials allowed the prosecutors to present "specious claims of motive designed to paint the defendant with a broad stroke of guilt and moral condemnation and overcome a lack of physical evidence." Boyne stated that she cannot say whether he is guilty or not but that she believes the state overreached and "that overreaching did not serve the cause of justice."[66] Louisville defense attorney Steve Romines criticized the prosecution's decision to change the theory of the crime numerous times instead of dropping the charges: "The problem is, in the first trial, David Camm's the shooter and acted alone. The second trial, David Camm's the shooter and Boney aided and abetted him. And now in this trial, Charles Boney is the shooter and David Camm aided and abetted him. In three trials, with the same proof, they've had three different theories", adding "Proof doesn't change. If you have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, you argue the same thing throughout. You don't have to constantly shift your theory to fit your proof."[50]

By the third trial, the backbone of the defense's case was the evidence of police and prosecutorial misconduct in the case. The defense argued that the investigation was riddled by critical mistakes, both in the collection of evidence and the investigation of Boney as a suspect. The sweatshirt found at the crime scene revealed Charles Boney's DNA, his girlfriend's DNA, his prison nickname, and his department of corrections number.[67] Kim Camm's shoes were also lined up on the top of the vehicle; Boney has a long history of fetish driven assaults that included the theft of shoes. It is unclear how the investigative team missed all of these pieces of evidence during the initial investigation. The defense team was told that the evidence had been thoroughly investigated.[68]

The defense argued that the police should have also taken notice when Boney's story went through so many revisions. They noted that many details of his story were first suggested by police detectives in recorded interviews, notably the detail regarding the gun wrapped in the sweatshirt. Other details of his story were changed following discussions with detectives who pointed out the discrepancies.[69][70] Defense witness Dr. Kim Rossmo, a criminal justice professor at Texas State University testified that Boney was never investigated properly and his claims were never independently verified. Instead of treating Boney like a suspect, "They treated him as an anomaly to their theory, that somehow had to be explained away", adding, "I think there were six different confessions from Mr. Boney. I don't think Boney ever told the truth about what happened...he's only telling the police enough to get around the last particular contradiction." He testified that the majority of the oversights during the investigation were caused by confirmation bias: a tendency to believe information that confirms your preconceived notions and place less weight on information that doesn't. Rossmo argued that the police were swayed by the early misleading evidence and came to the conclusion that Camm was guilty before any of the forensic evidence was examined. He believes this phenomenon caused the investigators to ignore the DNA on the sweatshirt and when Boney was finally identified, they downplayed the significance and attempted to make it fit within their established theory of the crime.[71][72]

Lead defense attorney Richard Kammen accused police of feeding Boney a false story designed to implicate Camm and coercing him to testify against Camm by playing on his fear of racial prejudice within the criminal justice system by telling him that a black man accused of killing a white family would get the death penalty if he didn't cooperate. During recorded interrogations, he was reminded on several occasions of the likelihood of getting the death penalty on the basis of his race.[45][70] Boney confirmed that during interrogations, a detective told him that the best way to avoid the death penalty was to testify as a witness against David Camm.[73] The defense cited a suspicious series of undocumented and unrecorded phone calls — 29 in all — between Boney and the Floyd County Prosecutor's office in the two week span between his DNA being identified and his arrest and an incident involving a distant relative of Boney, a police officer named Myron Wilkerson.[74][75] Wilkerson met with Boney privately at the station following his arrest. Two months later, it was learned that Wilkerson had removed Kim Camm's phone from the evidence room without signing it out. He was not a part of the investigation team and did not have permission to do so. When it was recovered, the phone was completely void of fingerprints. Wilkerson was never charged with evidence tampering.[76][77] Kammen pointed out that Boney hired Stan Faith, the prosecutor in the first Camm trial, to represent him as legal counsel at some point in time after the murders. Following Boney's arrest, he asked to be represented by Faith but was told it was a conflict of interest. Boney admits to having discussed the case with Faith prior to becoming a suspect in the case.[78][79]

Further evidence of misconduct was uncovered when in the third trial, crime scene photographer Rob Stites testified for the defense, admitting he had perjured himself in the first two trials. Stites' assertion that the spots on David Camm's shirt were HVIS was the cornerstone of the probable cause affidavit that led to Camm's arrest and his testimony at the first two trials helped the prosecution win Camm's convictions. He had previously testified that he was an expert blood spatter pattern analyst who was in the process of attaining a Ph.D — credentials which were fabrications. He asserts that Floyd County prosecutor, Stan Faith, helped create those fraudulent credentials. During the third trial, he outlined how he was sent to the crime scene by Rod Englert to photograph and take notes. Despite having no formal training in the field nor any work experience as a crime scene analyst, his notes ended up being used in the probable cause affidavit with him being listed as a "crime scene reconstructionist", a title that did not apply to him. The defense pointed out several aspects of Stites' notes that were later proven to be false including "HVIS" on the garage door, later proven to be a petroleum based product and not blood. Stites' opinion that there was a clean up at the crime scene involving bleach was also incorrect. The confusion came from the unfamiliar look of the blood after the serum had separated from the blood cells. Regarding his actions, he commented, "It was a dumb thing...In hindsight, I would have kept my mouth shut." Stites was not charged with perjury for his testimony in the previous two trials.[10][80]

Several other allegations of prosecutorial misconduct surfaced during the case. Lynn Scamahorn, a DNA analyst from the Indiana State Police claimed that during the first trial former Floyd County Prosecutor Stan Faith threatened her when she refused to perjure herself that she found Camm's DNA on Charles Boney's sweatshirt.[81] Fingerprint analyst John Singleton reported a similar encounter. He claims Faith wanted him to "shade the truth" while testifying regarding the then unidentified palm print on Kim Camm's bronco later determined to belong to Charles Boney.[82] The fraudulent testimony of Stites and the attempted coercion of Lynne Scamahorne were featured in a forensic textbook called Forensic Fraud: Evaluating Law Enforcement and Forensic Science Cultures in the Context of Examiner Misconduct.[6]

Cost of the Case[edit]

In October 2013, NBC News reported that costs had reached an "estimated $4.5 million dollars."[83]

Lawsuits[edit]

David Camm is facing a wrongful death civil suit filed by his late wife's parents over the estimated $625,000 Camm is set to collect from life insurance and Kim Camm's 401K fund.[84] Frank and Janice Renn steadfastly maintain their belief in Camm's guilt.[85]

David Camm announced in December 2013 his intent to file a civil suit over the prosecutorial misconduct in the case.[63]

In 2005, prosecution witness Rod Englert filed a lawsuit against several of the defense witnesses in the case for libel. The lawsuit accused the defendants of saying Englert embellished his credentials, misrepresented his qualifications and experience and provided false testimony in court. Rod Englert testified for the prosecution that Camm had high velocity blood spatter on the shirt he was wearing the night of the murders.[86]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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