DAVID CAMM BLOG: Opening statements
Aug. 22, 2013
LEBANON, Ind. (WDRB) – There's an old saying that what is past is prologue.
That could be said for the first seven days of jury selection in the third David Camm triple murder trial. During the tedious interviews and endless barrage of questions that comes with picking out unbiased, untainted jurors, the spectators' gallery of the courtroom was usually empty, save for half a dozen or so diehard journalists. No one wants to sit through that.
That wasn't the case today, as journalists, family members and onlookers piled into the Boone County courthouse to hear opening statements from attorneys in both sides of the case.
I don't know how many journalists were there today, but there were a lot. In addition to representatives of the four major Louisville televisions stations, there were also folks from 48 Hours, Dateline NBC, the Associated Press and several of the Indianapolis TV stations. There were also a couple of sketch artists.
There were folks from the Camm and Lockhart families on hand to support defendant David Camm. I counted about 14 members of Camm's extended family, including uncles Sam Lockhart, Leland Lockhart and Nelson Lockhart, as well as Camm's sister, Julie Hogue Blankenbaker, and brother, Donnie Camm.
Frank and Janice Renn, the parents of murder victim Kim Camm, and grandparents of murder victims Brad and Jill Camm, were also in attendance with supporters on the other side of the courtroom.
Everyone was there to hear opening statements: the chance for both the prosecution and the defense to have a direct heart-to-heart with the jury and explain to them what they hope to prove – or disprove – over the next few weeks.
Before the day ended, the spectators would be witness to legal fireworks on both sides.
The Prosecution Opens
Defendant David Camm was ushered into the courtroom, taking a brief moment to smile wordlessly and wave at uncle Sam Lockhart, who acknowledged his greeting. Court was gaveled into session at 9:33 a.m. and after some preliminary issues were taken care of, the jury was brought into the courtroom and sworn in.
They were then read the lengthy jury instructions, which would legally bind them for the rest of the case. At issue is whether defendant David Camm, on Sept. 28, 2000, did knowingly and / or intentionally kill another human being, to wit Kimberly S. Camm (his wife), Bradley R. Camm (his 7-year-old son) and Jill C. Camm (his 5-year-old daughter).
Special Prosecutor Stan Levco delivered opening statements for the State of Indiana.
"This case is about three people," Levco said, alluding to the murder victims. He added that Sept. 28, 2000, "was like most other days" and Kim Camm had just arrived at her Georgetown, Ind. home, after picking the kids up from extracurricular activities.
But all of that changed, Levco said, when "Kim was ambushed in the garage by her husband" who killed her "with a single gunshot wound to the head."
Levco then went on to explain how Bradley Camm and Jill Camm were executed in a similar fashion.
"Jill obviously is not going to tell you what happened that night," Levco said, his voice faltering. "But she spoke through…tiny dots of blood."
He pointed out that Camm later told investigators that he "never touched Jill or Kim," and when he supposedly "discovered" the bodies, he didn't call 911, choosing instead to call Indiana State Police directly.
"The reason he didn't call 911 was because he wanted his people there," Levco said.
"The evidence will show that the scene was manipulated after the murders," Levco told the jury, indicating that Kim's pants were taken off, "to make it look like it was a sexual assault."
"At first, David Camm was not treated as a suspect," Levco said. But all of that changed, he said, after "these nine little dots" of blood on "Area 30" of David Camm's t-shirt would be identified "high-velocity impact spatter" – microscopic blood droplets that can only appear when a person is within four feet of an individual who is being shot by a gun.
The defense will counter, Levco said, that the droplets are "transfer stains" that Camm sustained when he leaned over his daughter Jill's bloody hair.
"We say it's spatter and can't be transfer," Levco said. "They say it's transfer and can't be spatter."
He added that the jury would have to decide one way or the other as there is "no middle ground."
Levco said that before the murders, Camm called a real estate agent to enquire about purchasing a new home, and that there is "no evidence" that Kim Camm knew about this.
Camm also checked into getting the Bronco where Jill Camm's lifeless body was found cleaned by a professional cleaner, just days after the murders took place.
When investigators required him to strip his clothing to provide hair and DNA samples, Levco said, Camm jokingly told them, "This is what happens when you murder your wife and children."
Levco said the defense would criticize investigators during the first David Camm trial for not checking DNA uncovered on a gray sweatshirt found on the scene against a national criminal database. That DNA would eventually lead to Charles Boney, a man who was later tried and convicted for the same three murders, and is now serving a 225 year prison sentence.
Levco said "I don't disagree" with some of those criticisms, adding that, "this was a serious mistake." But he added, "Let me tell you, I believe you will find this was a very thorough investigation."
He said Detective Gary Gilbert eventually traced the DNA to Boney, and upon later questioning, Boney "admitted he sold the gun to David Camm and was there that night."
But he added that, "the most significant evidence in this case will be the blood spatter on David Camm's shirt."
He said jurors would hear from a prison tattoo artist who would testify that Camm confessed to him that he murdered his family.
Levco said that David Camm, "stood to gain three quarters of a million dollars from the death of his wife," through insurance policies, and that he called Aegon, his wife's employer at the time, the day after the murders.
"He made this call before even calling Kim's parents," Levco said.
Levco said prosecutors plan to call "about 50 witnesses" and they plan to rest their case sometime around Sept. 3. He believes the entire trial will last six weeks.
"Ultimately, I think the length of this trial is going to be good for it," Levco said, explaining that jurors would have time to draw their own conclusions and ask questions.
"When you see those drops on Jill's shirt, there is going to be no reasonable doubt," Levco said. "You will be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of murdering" his family.
The Defense Opens
Moments later, defense attorney Richard Kammen rose to present opening statements for the defense.
Kammen stated that, "On Oct. 1, 2000, when David was in an interrogation room," and detectives "were screaming and telling him, ‘You did this,'" Camm told them their experts were wrong and their timeline was wrong.
"That was true then, and it's true today," Kammen said.
He then pointed to Charles Boney as the real killer, telling jurors that, "You are the first jury who will ever get a glimpse of who Charles Boney is."
He said Boney – who is expected to testify later in this trial – cannot be trusted because police investigators, "fed Charles Boney the story he will tell you."
Kammen said this jury would be the first to see "the DNA evidence that proves Chares Boney" killed David Camm's wife and children.
"We know that he followed her for some period of time," Kammen said, because five years after the murders, "he could describe in detail the back of her car."
He said Boney was a "career criminal" with an "escalating pattern of violence" and "would put a gun to a person's head and make threats for power."
He was also, Kammen said, a frequent customer of Karem's Meat Market, which was owned by members of Kim Camm's family.
Kammen said Boney, "loved to manipulate the system" and, shortly before the murders, tricked a judge into giving him early release from a 20 year sentence by "talking about how he was a good Christian and how he had reformed."
The defense attorney went on to paint a picture of Charles Boney laying in wait for Kim Camm at their home on Sept. 28, 2000. He said Boney, "probably heard Kim come home" and "accosted her."
"She was forced to remove her pants," Kammen said. "She was forced to remove her underwear," because the underwear she was discovered in was "almost certainly not" the underwear she was originally wearing."
"Kim fought in a way that only a mother could fight," Kammen said. "He shot her and blew her brains out – and whether he did that or not before or after he killed the children, we don't know."
Kammen spoke of the subsequent murder investigation, which he called a "rush to judgment." He said a proper investigation, "does not involve jumping to a conclusion in the first five minutes or the first five hours."
He said then Floyd County Prosecutor Stan Faith – whom he described as a "big ole' guy, beard" – took over the investigation.
"I wish you could see a photo of him," Kammen said, adding that he, "reminds me of a small-town sheriff."
"Within a few hours, he was in control of the crime scene."
Kammen said Faith called nationally known blood expert Rod Englert to the scene, but Englert sent is lackey, Rob Stites, instead. Stites, Kammen said, was no expert.
"I don't know when he got promoted," Kammen said. "Maybe on the plane…he promoted himself."
In any event, Kammen said, Stites was "running the investigation" within 30 hours and had "all kinds of theories," which he said involved misidentifying oil on the garage door as blood spatter.
He said the case against Camm "started with a lie."
He decried the "wall-to-wall coverage from newspapers and television" during the first trial, telling jurors, "You see the trucks here from Louisville" and "can only imagine what it was like back then."
Kammen said Prosecutor Stan Faith wasn't interested in finding out who owned the gray sweatshirt found at the scene – or who made the palm print found on the murder scene.
"Could they be bothered to take fingerprints?" Kammen asked. "No! Because we've got David Camm, and his prints will be there!"
Camm was eventually convicted in the first trial and the convictions were later reversed. Kammen said that even when Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson took office and promised a new investigation with "fresh eyes," the result was the same.
"They had put their reputations on the line that David Camm was guilty."
Even after Charles Boney was identified and interviewed by police, Kammen said, prosecutors were reluctant to have him arrested for his role in the crime. This so emboldened Boney, Kammen said, that he went on television news to discuss his "foot fetish."
At this point prosecutors objected. Both parties approached the judge and whispers were exchanged. When the attorneys returned to their benches, Judge Jonathan Dartt addressed the jury.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you are to disregard the last statements by the defense counsel," Judge Dartt said.
Kammen said the police investigators and prosecutors fed Boney a false story about conspiring with David Camm, and asked him to regurgitate the story to the courts. He said Boney was told that he was a black man accused with killing a white family, and if he didn't cut a deal with prosecutors to go along with the state's version of events, he would get the death penalty.
"The interrogations of Mr. Boney were professionally irresponsible!" Kammen said.
"We will not ask you for mercy," Kammen concluded. "We will only ask you to follow the law…we will ask you to have the courage to say there was a rush to judgment…they were wrong."
He said they would ask the jury to find David Camm not guilty.
A few moments later, the jury was allowed to take a lunch break. When all the jurors were gone, an angry Levco rose to demand a mistrial.
"I think it's outrageous that he brought up the foot fetish," he said of Kammen, adding that, "I just wanted to express my entire disagreement with what he said in his opening statement."
Levco said the court had agreed some time ago that details of Boney's foot fetish would not be admissible.
Kammen countered that Levco "opened the door" to this when he claimed in his opening arguments that Kim's body was altered in order to make it appear that she was the victim of a sexual assault.
The judge did not agree.
"This is clearly outside of bounds," he told Kammen. "You could be looking at sanctions, sir."
"The line of opening statements was definitely crossed by the defense this morning," Judge Dartt added.
But after lunch, he would deny Levco's request for a mistrial.
Prosecution Witness #1: Andrew Lee
When court resumed, the jury heard testimony from the first prosecution witness, Andrew Lee, currently a special agent for the U.S. Secret Service who, at the time of the murders, was an Indiana State Police trooper for the Sellersburg post.
While Lee was on the stand, jurors heard dramatic audio of the 911 call made by David Camm to the Indiana State Police Post on the night the murders took place:
"Patrice, it's David Camm! Let me talk to post command right now!"
At this point on the audio, bizarrely, David Camm's frantic screams are interrupted by a portion of LeAnn Rimes singing "I Need You," as his call was transferred to Lee.
"Get everybody out there to my house now!" Camm shouted on the recording when Lee eventually picked up. "My wife and my kids are dead!"
After the recording was played, Lee was questioned on the witness stand by the prosecution. He was asked if it was strange that Camm demanded to speak to the post command, rather than simply calling 911.
"I think the dispatcher could have handled the situation without having to transfer the call to me," he said.
Later on cross examination by defense attorney Stacy Uliana, he would admit that, "as a trooper, you dial the numbers instinctively for post a whole lot."
Prosecution Witness #2: Patricia Brown
Next, jurors were read testimony by Patricia Brown, the post dispatcher who took the call (Brown is currently hospitalized and unable to give testimony in person).
Through the written word, Brown testified that she had trouble finding David Camm's address because he had called the ISP post command instead of regular dispatchers.
"At the time, we just needed to get him help," she said. "But we needed an address. I didn't know his address."
She said she lost five minutes of time before she was able to nail down a location for Camm's Georgetown home.
Defense countered by trying to show that Camm was in emotional distress.
"Dave was very upset in the phone call, wasn't he?" Uliana asked.
"I suppose he was upset," Brown replied, before adding later, "there's different types of upset."
Prosecution Witness #3: James Niemeyer
Towards the end of the day, James Niemeyer, a retired Indiana State Police trooper, took the stand. Niemeyer, a tall beefy man with white hair and a deep voice, was a crime scene technician supervisor at the time of the murders.
He recalled the moment investigators notified him about the murders on Sept. 28, 2000.
"They told me they had three victims in the garage bay, and they were the family of David Camm," he said.
He told the jury that he shot video of the crime scene – and that graphic video was played for the jurors. There was no sound, but it showed the interior of the garage where the murders took place. The body of Kim Camm could clearly be seen, her legs and feet bare, and from the waist down she was wearing only her panties. A pool of blood ran from her head.
Nearby, the body of Bradley Camm could be seen. His arms were splayed out and his shirt was pulled up. His eyes were closed, and there appeared to be something like blood coming from his nose.
During the time this graphic imagery was shown, Frank Renn, Kim Camm's father, sat on the front row of the spectator's gallery with his head down and his eyes tightly shut. Likewise, members of the Lockhart family could be seen shaking their heads.
Defendant David Camm appeared to be crying and grabbed a tissue.
Later, defense attorney Stacy Uliana cross-examined Niemeyer.
Under cross examination, Niemeyer told the jury that then Prosecutor Stan Faith hired blood stain pattern expert Rod Englert, who dispatched his protégé, Rob Stites, to the scene.
Niemeyer said he resented Stites, but added that, "I don't think he really hurt anything."
"I had a problem with Mr. Stites," he said. "I didn't appreciate him being there."
He said Stites came all the way from Oregon but failed to bring a kit to test blood, and later seized part of a garage door that he believed contained blood stains, despite the fact that a phenolphthalein test eliminated blood as a possibility.
"I didn't appreciate it, and I probably expressed myself a little to heavily to him," Niemeyer said.
Court was adjourned for the day shortly after 4:30. Niemeyer is expected to be back on the stand Friday morning.
Travis K. Kircher is a Web producer for WDRB News. He can be reached at email@example.com.