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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Prosecutor Keith Henderson's former book deal is "an actual conflict of interest" meaning he should be removed from trying a third murder trial against accused triple-murderer David Camm, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The three-judge panel found Henderson "permanently compromised his ability" to serve as prosecutor after reaching a tentative contract deal with a publisher to write a booke about the case.
Even though the book deal was later scrapped, the court ruled it amounted to a conflict of interest. The ruling said, in part, "...Henderson cannot be both committed to writing a book about the Camm case and serve as prosecutor. Such a personal interest creates an actual conflict of interest with his duties as prosecutor."
When reached outside is office late Tuesday, Henderson said he disagreed with the ruling, saying it would be up to state Attorney General Greg Zoeller to determine if the state would appeal the ruling.
When asked directly if he regretted the book deal, Henderson replied:
"No, I don't regret the book deal. In retrospect, I think what the question is what is the rule on special prosecutors," he said.
"I don't necessarily agree with (the ruling) but this case will proceed with a prosecutor who is competent. I'm not the only one who can try this case."
Henderson says he believes "justice will be had" even if it's another prosecutor who is left to present evidence against David camm.
"if I thought there was a conflict I never would have intended on publishing a book," Henderson told WDRB News' Bennett Haeberle.
Henderson went on to say that he interprets the ruling to mean even "his thoughts" or "potential thoughts" could be construed as a conflict in the case.
The court concluded that Henderson had provided David Camm with a defense strategy he did not have previously. It said Camm could maintain that Henderson's decision to prosecute him for a third time was influenced by his desire to write the book.
The state of Indiana could appeal this latest ruling to the Indiana Supreme Court. No decision has been made on that option.
The ruling released Tuesday also cites concerns Henderson expressed in an email to his agent Frank Weimann in July 2009. He wanted to make sure the publisher, Berkley Penguin Group, might want to bring the book out before Camm's third trial began. "It would jeopardize the case," Henderson wrote, "potentially getting me removed from the case due to certain disclosure and opinions we are writing in the book. This cannot happen."
Henderson and Penguin cancelled their contract in September 2009, and he and his co-author returned their advances for the book.
Camm has been convicted twice of killing his wife and two children in September 2000. Camm's first conviction was overturned by a state appeals court in 2004. He was convicted again in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Charles Boney was also convicted in the killings.
But the Indiana Supreme Court overturned Camm's second conviction, as well. The court ordered a third trial for David Camm because it said the prosecutor in his second trial improperly argued that Camm had molested his five-year-old daughter Jill. Prosecutor Keith Henderson also argued that was a motive for killing Jill, his son Brad, and his wife Kim.
The Indiana Supreme Court went on to rule it would not reconsider its decision to overturn Camm's 2006 conviction. That left it up to Henderson to decide whether to prosecute Camm a third time, at great expense to Floyd County. Back in 2006, Henderson told WDRB News that Camm's second trial cost the county more than $370,000, and that his first trial cost more than $900,000.