DAVID CAMM BLOG: Phone Calls and Lies
Sept. 4, 2013
WITNESS: James Biddle (cont'd)
Retired Ind. State Police Lt.
Court was gaveled into session at 9:02 a.m. and the jury was ushered in shortly thereafter. James Biddle, a retired Lieutenant with the Indiana State Police, was still on the stand. (See yesterday's blog for his earlier testimony.)
At this point, Special Prosecutor Stan Levco resumed his direct examination of Biddle. He handed Biddle a transcript of a phone conversation Biddle had with Camm on Oct. 1. Levco also produced an audio recording of that conversation.
"The audio is in poor quality in my estimation," said Biddle.
Copies of the transcript were passed out to the jurors and the recording was played for the jurors.
Partial Transcript of Phone Call
David Camm and James Biddle
Oct. 1, 2000
In the recording, there are some undecipherable voices, and then someone is placed on hold. Bizarrely, the jurors and observers sat for several moments listening to strains of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" as the caller – who turned out to be David Camm – waited on hold.
Soon, the phone clicked as Biddle picked up. This is a *PARTIAL* transcript of what was said:
"There are some things I need to say to you," Camm said. "I'm sorry for getting so upset last night…I know you guys are doing everything you can." (Camm was apologizing for an altercation he was engaged in the previous day, in which he allegedly chest-butted Biddle for not letting him into his home. Biddle disallowed this, because the home was still a crime scene.)
"It wasn't personal against you," Camm added. "I just needed to vent a little bit."
"It was no problem with me," Biddle assured him. "It really isn't." He added that he didn't want Camm to give the incident "another thought."
"I know that you have a lot of support here at the post," Biddle said, telling Camm that he was "really liked."
"I'm counting on you guys," Camm said on the recording.
"We're doing everything we can," Biddle assured him. "These evidence techs are being so meticulous."
Biddle added that, "I will go as far as I can go to get you want you want," adding that if it takes him all day, "I will do that."
"But you can't blame yourself David," Biddle said. "You just can't do that. I know it's so easy to do that."
Camm then began to talk about his children. "They were perfect," he said.
"My wife: she loved me unconditionally," Camm added. "Truly unconditionally."
"We're doing everything we can to find the person who did this," Biddle said.
"Do we have any suspects?" Camm asked. "Do we have any leads?"
He added: "If we don't have any solid suspects at this point – the longer we go, the worse it's gonna be."
"We've been going full guns, and we're going to continue going full guns until we find the person who did this," Biddle said on the recording.
"It's like a roller coaster, Jimmy," Camm said later on.
"Oh God, I can imagine," Biddle replied.
Camm said he cries and cries until he can't cry any more.
"I want to blame God," Camm said. "But I have faith in you."
Biddle replied that he didn't want to let Camm down.
"Just don't," Camm said. "Just don't."
Camm then offered to give Biddle a tour of his home, including the master bedroom.
"I'll show you the pictures and I'll tell you the stories," Camm said.
"We'll work this out," Biddle said. "I just don't want to make you any promises I can't keep."
The recorded call ended moments later.
WITNESS: James Biddle (cont'd)
Retired Ind. State Police Lt.
After the audio of the phone call was played, Special Prosecutor Stan Levco rose to question Biddle.
Biddle said that Camm was destined to be arrested eight hours after the phone call was made.
"At the time of this phone call, did you know he was likely to be arrested?" Levco asked.
"Yes," Biddle replied.
Levco asked if Biddle was being deceptive.
"Yes I was," Biddle replied without hesitation.
Why does Biddle think David Camm called?
"I believe that he wanted to know what we were doing in the house, to determine whether or not he was a suspect," Biddle said. "To get the clothes also."
Moments later, defense attorney Richard Kammen rose to cross examine Biddle. He asked Biddle if he was aware that James Niemeyer had testified that he believed David Camm was guilty only five minutes after arriving on the scene.
"No sir, I am not aware of that."
Kammen then had Biddle recall the night of Sept. 28, 2000. Biddle said he arrived on the scene sometime between 10:30 and 10:45.
"You never gave him a pat like other troopers did?" Kammen asked. "You didn't give him a hug?"
Biddle said that he did not.
"You never even expressed condolences."
Biddle said that was correct.
Kammen later listed several law enforcement agencies – including the Floyd County Sheriff's office, the New Albany Police Department, the Indiana State Police and first responders – who came to the scene that night.
"Virtually every law enforcement agency in the county – including the Indiana State Police – was there?"
"And the media was there as well," Kammen said, noting that there were complaints by the neighbors about the media intruding on their property. Biddle agreed.
"You were aware of the huge media interest?" Kammen said.
"The media was there, yes," Biddle replied.
Kammen added that the media is still present, noting reporters in the courtroom and the live trucks parked outside.
The defense attorney then began to question the role of Sean Clemons, the lead investigator of the case. Kammen asked if Biddle kept Clemons as lead investigator, because he had a "good relationship" with Stan Faith, who was then the Floyd County Prosecutor.
Biddle replied that "that's part" of the reason, but when asked if the investigation deferred to the wishes of Faith throughout the case, he replied, "that's not true."
At one point, Biddle interrupted Kammen and tried to explain a point, but Kammen stopped him, adding that there was "no question pending" and "your lawyer" will have a chance to bring up any issues Biddle wanted to talk about when he re-dresses him.
Levco was irate.
"I am not his lawyer," Levco said. "I am representing the State of Indiana. I do not represent all of these witnesses. That is a mischaracterization."
Kammen then asked Biddle about "the infamous gray sweatshirt that was found at the scene" – the sweatshirt that bore the name "Backbone" in the collar and, years later, was tied to Charles Boney, Camm's alleged accomplice in the murders.
Biddle said Camm's family was told about the sweatshirt but, "I don't recall if they were given the name." He also testified that no one ran the nickname "Backbone" through a database of nicknames maintained by the Department of Corrections.
The next topic of discussion was Rob Stites, the protégé of Rod Englert, a nationally known blood stain pattern analyst who was brought into the investigation by Stan Faith and who is expected to testify later in the case. Stites – who was only there to take pictures according to the defense – arrived the Saturday after the murders.
In his questioning, defense attorney Kammen claimed that Stites had never taken any courses in blood stain pattern analysis, had no formal scientific training, and was not an expert.
Nevertheless, Biddle said, Stites identified what he believed to be "high velocity impact spatter" on Camm's t-shirt. (High velocity impact spatter is a technical term. Experts say it consists of microscopic blood droplets that only appear when a person is standing less than four feet away from a victim when they are shot by a gun.) It was discovery that led to Camm's arrest, according to Biddle.
"The prosecutor made the decision to arrest Camm, is that true?" Kammen asked.
Biddle said that it was.
Kammen then addressed Biddle's phone call with David Camm.
"David was certainly expressing feelings," Kammen said.
Biddle replied that, "I could hear possibly emotion on the phone."
"I suppose so, yes," Biddle said.
Did Biddle think Camm was faking?
"I have not said that," Biddle replied.
"But the one who was faking was you," Kammen said.
"Yes, I was lying," Biddle admitted, referring to the fact that he knew Camm was about to be arrested the whole time.
Was he lying all throughout the call?
"Several times during that conversation, yes," Biddle said.
Later, the jury would ask Biddle about the acceptability of this practice within the Indiana State Police.
"It is the accepted practice to lie to people if you feel they are being deceptive to you," Biddle answered. "I did not do anything improper."
When questioned by Special Prosecutor Stan Levco about the defense's claims that the investigation was mishandled, Biddle would have this to say:
"I believe this is the most thorough investigations that State Police has done," he said, although he added that there were "some mistakes."
WITNESS: Frank Loop
Member of the Floyd County Sheriff's Department
After lunch, the jury heard testimony from Frank Loop, a member of the Floyd County Sheriff's Department since 1982. A balding man in glasses, Loop testified briefly about a conversation he allegedly had around April or May of 2000, months before the murders.
Loop testified that he had been told by his superiors that Camm was going to be leaving the Indiana State Police, and was going to become a resource officer – an unpaid volunteer who might be called upon to serve once a month or so.
"I thought it was great," Loop said.
He met briefly with Camm and told him he was ready to get him set up as a resource officer, but Camm allegedly told him he needed a haircut, and he needed to purchase a gun. Loop said Camm told him he had a .380, but he wanted to get his money together to purchase a Beretta.
"That's understandable," he said. "It's $400 - $500."
"A .380 wouldn't be the caliber of choice that we would want someone to be carrying," he added, noting that most officers carry a 9mm or a .40 caliber weapon.
(It is believed that a .380 was used to commit the Camm family murders.)
Kammen rose to cross examine Loop.
He noted that Loop, like Stan Faith, had "also been involved in politics."
"I'm currently the elected township trustee," Loop said.
Kammen also pointed out that Loop ran for sheriff in 2005, and in 1999, was on the town board.
"By December , you heard through the law enforcement grapevine that a .380 might have been used in the murders," Kammen said.
"That is true," Loop replied.
That's when, Kammen said, Loop came forward with the memory of the conversation he'd allegedly had with Camm roughly seven months earlier.
"After this you got interviewed," Kammen said, pointing out that Loop would later testify in the first David Camm trial.
"That was a big deal in southern Indiana," Kammen said. Then he pointed out that Loop also testified in the second trial.
"That was a big deal," Kammen said. "Lots of media."
Witness: Susan Block
Semonin Realtors Broker
New Albany, Ind.
After Loop left the stand, Susan Block, a broker for Semonin Realtors, took the stand. A middle aged woman with long, blonde hair, Block has been a real estate agent for 27 years. She testified about a phone call she allegedly received from David Camm the day before the murders about a listing at 1010 Woodfield Drive in New Albany. She said the 4-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom single residence home was listed for $189,900.
"Basically, he was just asking about the property, so I gave him the information on it," she said.
She said she never got any indication that Camm had discussed it with his wife Kim.
Upon cross examination, she said Camm told her he would possibly look at the home that upcoming weekend, and that he'd discussed with her that the home was five minutes from Graceland Schools. She said he was hoping to move his children closer to the school, and there were several families in the neighborhood.
Shortly after that, she left the stand.
Witness: Robert M. Neal
Indiana State Police Trooper
The last witness of the day was Robert M. Neal, an Indiana State Police trooper who had previously served as a crime scene investigator.
He testified that in Sept. 2000, he was a detective squad leader in the Sellersburg district and he knew David Camm.
"We worked the same district," he said. "We would see each other occasionally at the post."
He said he was called at home on Sept. 28, 2000 after the bodies of Kim, Brad and Jill were discovered.
"As I was getting dressed, I instructed my wife to call the other detectives, which she did," he said.
He then drove to the scene. Approximately 30 minutes after arriving, he approached David Camm.
"I went up to basically just console him," he said. "You know, it's one of those situations where you just don't know what to say."
"I went up to put my arm on his shoulder and he kind of turned away," he said. "For the most part, given the circumstances, I kind of understood."
Neal said the decision was made that Camm should be taken to the Indiana State Police Sellersburg post to be interviewed – not because he was a suspect, but for the purpose of tracking down leads.
Initially, Neal said, Camm was "reluctant," stating that "my family is in there [the garage]."
"I think he talked it out with some family members and they encouraged him that that was the right thing to do," Neal said.
They arrived at the ISP post shortly after midnight, Neal said, and an audio recording of the interview was made. That audio – with some redactions – was played for the jury.
The following is a partial transcript of that interview.
Sept. 29 Interview
David Camm, Detective Robert M. Neal, Detective Darrel Gibson
One of the detectives begins by telling Camm, "I want you to be comfortable…We're going to try to get through this as best we can."
At the beginning of the interview, Camm walks through the day, explaining how he and his family woke up and got ready for work and school.
"I kissed her goodbye," he said of his wife, Kim. "I told Jill goodbye, and to have a good day."
He said he then went to work. He got home sometime between 5:30 and 5:45 that evening.
He described going to play basketball at the Georgetown Community Church gym, then returning home after 9 p.m., when he found the bodies of his family.
"The garage door was open, which was kind of unusual," he said.
He then encountered his wife's body. She wasn't wearing pants. He said he first thought it was his daughter.
"It looked like Jill's dancing outfit," he said. "I could see all the blood running out of the garage."
He said he saw the bodies of Brad and Jill in the Ford Bronco.
"I know they were trying to get away," he said. "I know they were trying to hide."
He said he felt Brad and noticed he was warm.
"The funny thing about it is, guys, I was thinking so clear," he said. "I thought about calling 911," Camm said, but decided to call ISP post command because he didn't want to get "no dingy dispatcher."
He said he tried to perform CPR on Brad, then ran across the street to tell his relatives.
"That was pretty much my day," he said.
The detectives asked Camm if he noticed if there were any valuables missing from his home. He said that he did not – in fact, he said his check from United Dynamics (his place of employment) was still on the table.
"Not to make you guys jealous, but for a week, it's about $1,400," he said.
He was asked about guns.
"Don't need one," Camm said. "Don't carry one."
When asked if anyone had been around that night, Camm recalled that the Schwan's delivery man had been by shortly before he left to play basketball.
"I don't know about a name," he said, "but he's the same guy who comes by every week."
"It just doesn't make any sense," he added later.
At one point, one of the detectives asked if Kim had been having an affair.
"Honestly guys, I don't think she had time to," David Camm said.
He later turned his attention to the condition of the Bronco.
"That driver's side door was open," Camm said. "That doesn't make sense. I can't figure out why the driver's side door was open."
He then referenced what he claimed was the fact that he left the scene relatively untouched.
"The only thing I touched was Bradley," he said.
He then became emotional, noting that his children, "probably saw things happening to Mom" and were probably "yelling for me…and I wasn't there."
"I'll tell you this much – and this is straight from the heart," one of the detectives began. "God takes kids straight to be with Jesus."
Camm then began to question God.
"How does God expect me to cope with this and go on?" he asked. "He can control things. He can manipulate things."
He then asked what God was trying to teach him.
"I would probably end up in hell if I killed myself," he said. "I would probably end up in hell. And that scares me."
The detective countered: "If you've got a question of anything that comes up in this lifetime, the Bible is a roadmap…Satan is alive and well on this planet. That's my personal opinion…my suggestion to you, Dave, is that you talk to God. You pray a lot."
"You've got a lot of people who care about you, Dave," the other detective offered.
Near the end of the interview, the detectives cautioned Camm against committing suicide.
"I want you to promise me that you won't do anything to yourself," a detective said.
"I'm worried about you, okay? A little bit," he added. "Just some little things that you dropped…I don't want you to do anything irrational."
"I just don't know if I can deal with it," Camm said.
"Well, Dave, you're going to have to deal with it," a detective countered.
"Will you promise me you won't do nothing?" one of the detectives asked.
Camm told the detective he wouldn't, "until you figure out who did this."
The detective said that was fine, but they were going to have another conversation after the murderer was caught, and he was going to make Camm promise again.
"If you start to feel that way," the detective said, "will you call me?" He added that if Camm killed himself after they'd had their talk, "that would cause me a lot of problems."
Camm sighed moments later.
"Somebody doesn't just pick out my house and kill my wife and kids," he said. "I mean, this just doesn't happen."
The interview ended moments later.
During the interview, I could see Camm blowing his nose and wiping his eyes, as defense attorney Richard Kammen patted him on his back.
It was an emotional time for the families as well. Frank and Janice Renn were in the front row, looking down. Janice appeared to comfort her husband. Members on the Camm / Lockhart side of the courtroom appeared to wipe their eyes.
Court ended shortly after 4 p.m. Neal is expected to return to the stand Thursday morning.
Travis K. Kircher is a Web Producer for WDRB. He can be reached at email@example.com.