Sept. 9, 2013
From Day One – before opening statements were even off the lips of the attorneys who made them – one question has haunted journalists covering the third David Camm triple murder trial.
When will Charles Boney testify?
For weeks, we peppered attorneys on both sides with the question. Last week, defense attorney Richard Kammen told the court he didn't know when Boney would testify, but later told this reporter, "I'm sworn to secrecy." Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer's response: "I just can't say."
But we knew something was up last week when special prosecutor Stan Levco said he was going to stop telling us who was next on the list of witnesses.
Big clue there.
You want to know when Charles Boney is going to testify because when he does, you want to bring your best "A-game" to the table. He's the prosecution's star witness. You want to have all your reporters in place. You want to make sure you shoot that b-roll of Charles Boney being marched through the basement entrance of the courthouse, so later when your reporter is doing his or her standup ("Moments ago in the courtroom, Charles Boney testified that…"), you can punch it up and play it under the voice track.
But many of us – more than anything else – wanted to be there when he testified because just maybe we'll get answers.
There are so many questions. Did Charles Boney help David Camm kill his family? If so, did Boney pull the trigger, or did David Camm? Did David Camm leave the basketball game at all? How did those microscopic dots of blood get on his shirt?
But then there's the other alternative: Is David Camm innocent? Did Charles Boney kill David Camm's family on his own? If so, why did he pick that house? Was it random? Was it intentional? Why did he have to kill the children? And why were Kim's shoes left on the Bronco?
One of the most disappointing aspects of sitting through the second David Camm trial for two months in 2006 was the lack of answers. Charles Boney wasn't allowed to testify then – it wasn't his trial – and he certainly couldn't testify in David Camm's first trial in 2002. Back then, no one even knew who Charles Boney was.
Convicted of the murders of Kim, Brad and Jill, Charles Boney is the only one we know for certain was at the scene of the murders on the night of Sept. 28, 2000. Was David Camm there too? As we sat to hear Boney's testimony Monday morning, many of us hoped to learn answers.
Witness: Charles Darnell Boney
Convicted murderer of Kim, Brad and Jill Camm
Alleged accomplice of David Camm
There were a lot of people in the courtroom Monday morning at 9:15 when Charles Boney was ushered in. A large African-American man, Boney was bald, with a mustache and goatee, wearing a white t-shirt under brownish-gray prison garb.
I counted at least 10 law enforcement officers standing throughout the courtroom when Boney appeared. And unlike David Camm, Boney was handcuffed.
Boney was seated in the witness chair and sat silently, his head cocked slightly upward, his eyes looking down silently on the attendees.
That is, until David Camm is brought in. As Camm enters, their eyes lock. Camm stares at Boney as he enters the courtroom. Boney stares at Camm as Camm walks to the defense table. And as a smiling Judge Jonathan Dartt greets onlookers in the courtroom, Camm and Boney remain deadlocked in their stare, as though they're oblivious to the world around them.
For his part, Dartt has a warning to the courtroom at large.
"Trials are emotional matters. There is no doubt about that," he said. "I will not tolerate outbursts, disruptions – anything of that manner."
He adds that anyone who causes a disturbance will be removed from the courtroom.
"I hope that is all I have to say about that particular matter," he said.
After some brief housekeeping measures, Charles Boney is asked to raise his right hand in order to be sworn in – a slightly awkward proposition since both of his hands are handcuffed. Then come the questions from Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer.
"My name is Charles Darnell Boney," the witness replies. His voice is firm, confident and matter-of-fact.
Was this the same Charles Boney who had been convicted of three counts of murder – specifically of Kim, Brad and Jill Camm – in 2006?
"Yes sir," Boney replied, again confident.
Boney went on to testify that he graduated from New Albany High School – David Camm's high school – although he said he didn't know David Camm back then. He was acquainted with another Camm family member though.
"I graduated with Danny Camm, his younger brother," Boney said.
Boney testified that he met David Camm in July 2000, at Sam Peden Community Park in New Albany, Ind.
What were they doing there?
"Playing pickup basketball, sir," Boney said, adding that there were 10 or more people in the game, and they were playing 5-on-5.
After the game, Boney said he spoke briefly with Camm.
"He was bragging and boasting about how bad he beat us," Boney said. For his part, Boney told Camm he had just recently been released from prison.
"I was more elated about being free than winning a basketball game," Boney said.
Boney testified that at the time, he had been living with his mother, Barbara Boney, and his then-girlfriend, Mala Singh Mattingly.
As Boney's testimony continued, he recounted his next encounter with David Camm.
"We had a chance meeting at a little market called The Better Way," Boney said. Boney testified that Camm walked in while he was in the cashier line.
"I believe I noticed him more so than he noticed me," Boney said, adding that he nodded at Camm when he walked in.
Boney said they spoke afterward.
"As he came out, I was already waiting for him to talk about a possible game," he said. "I asked if there was any games at the park, church."
For his part, Boney said Camm seemed more interested in Boney's criminal history.
"He was very interested about, sort of, finding out about Charles Boney," Boney said. (At various points of his testimony, Boney would occasionally speak of himself in the third person.) "He asked a lot of questions… he was basically probing me for information."
"We got on the subject of handguns," Boney said. "I admitted to Mr. Camm that in my past, I had sold handguns."
Then, Boney testified, came a request.
"He asked if I could find an untraceable handgun," Boney said. "That was the key: untraceable."
Boney said he later visited his gun source, a man named Ernie Nugent, at a 4H campgrounds.
"He didn't have much to chose from as far as untraceable weapons," Boney said.
Boney testified that he eventually decided on a .380. He paid $75 for it. Boney said Camm would later meet him in the parking lot of a Target store and pay him $250 for it.
"The very first weapon was delivered in a plastic, zip-lock-tied bag," Boney said. "It was well-oiled and ready to go."
But Camm wasn't satisfied with just one gun, Boney said. Camm allegedly told him he wanted a second gun.
Boney said Camm wouldn't give him his contact info – such as a phone number or an address – but he did drive him to his Georgetown, Ind. home on Lockhart Drive, and told Boney to meet him there again at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2000.
Boney said he returned home and later contacted Nugent to get the second gun.
On the night of Sept. 28, 2000 – the night the Camm family was murdered – Boney said he left his mom's house at 6:30 p.m. He said he told his then-girlfriend, Mala Singh, that he was going to "help a friend."
Boney said he drove his two-door midnight-blue Cadillac Deville up to the home at 7 p.m. that night. He said no one was there when he arrived, but moments later, David Camm drove up in a white company truck.
"He got out of his vehicle and met me," Boney said.
Boney testified that he just wanted to conduct his business and leave. He said he gave David Camm the second gun, wrapped in the mysterious gray "Backbone" sweatshirt that would later be found at the crime scene.
"I was just there for the money," he said. "At that point, I'm just there for the money. I want to know when I'm gonna get paid…I'm asking him about payment and he says he'll get to it shortly."
"I'm trying to understand what his hesitancy is about," he said.
At this point, Boney testified that Kim Camm arrived in her Ford Broco, along with Brad and Jill.
"I recall her looking at me, and she had a look on her face like, ‘Who's this guy?'" Boney said. He added that the look she gave him "wasn't a crazy look," but rather "a pleasant curiosity look."
Boney said Kim Camm got out of the Bronco and her husband walked into the garage to have a talk with her. Then he said he heard "a commotion best described as a little bit of arguing."
At this point, Boney testified that he heard Kim yell "No!"
"Then I heard a pop," Boney said. "And by a pop, I mean the firing of a weapon."
He added that he then heard a child scream "Daddy" followed by a pop, and then another pop.
"All of this took place in just a matter of seconds," Boney said. "I was freaking out because clearly, these are gunshots."
But Camm wasn't done, according to Boney.
"He pointed the .380 at me and he attempted to fire, and either there weren't enough projectiles…or it jammed."
Boney became enraged, according to his testimony.
"I really shouldn't say this, but even if it meant that I would take his life, I would have done so if given the opportunity," he said.
Boney said he ran into the garage and tripped over Kim Camm's shoes, adding that he must have placed them on top of the Bronco because he was worried about DNA.
"I don't honestly remember picking up the shoes," he said. "I'm not denying that was me. I did do that."
"It was like a movie," Boney testified. "Everything just stopped. I didn't know what to do – what to think."
He said Camm told him: You did this.
Boney said he saw the kids in the vehicle and also got a look at Kim Camm.
"She was fully clothed sir," he told Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer. "She was definitely fully clothed. Her pants were on."
While he was looking at Brad and Jill in the back of the vehicle, Boney testified, he heard someone rustling around. He said he knew Camm was going to get another weapon to shoot him with, so he got into his Cadillac "and I took off as quickly as possible."
He said he drove back to New Albany, taking time to stop by the Green Valley Elementary School parking lot to clear his head.
Boney testified that he didn't contact authorities about what happened.
"I figured the only people who knew about this other than God and myself was David Camm," he said, adding a moment later that, "I wasn't thinking about Kim, Brad and Jill. I was thinking of Charles Boney… how is Charles Boney going to get out of this?"
He added that this was "selfish."
"That was characteristic of me at that time," he said.
Years later, on Feb. 17, 2005, he would be brought in for questioning by the authorities, after the mysterious gray sweatshirt found at the scene would be tied to him, as would a palm print discovered on the Bronco.
"Mr. Boney, you've told police some lies in this case, haven't you?" Meyer said.
"Absolutely," Boney said, matter-of-factly.
When prosecutors confronted him about allegedly lying about having placed the gray sweatshirt in a Salvation Army bin months before the murders, he was quick to admit it.
"Yes, I did lie, but I sugarcoated it," Boney said, proposing that there were two gray sweatshirts.
Why did he lie in his initial police interviews, when he told authorities he had never met David Camm?
"Because Charles Boney was only thinking of Charles Boney," he said, adding a moment later that, "what I was doing was digging a hole deeper and deeper for myself. There was no way to get out of it."
Boone County Prosecutor Meyer then asked Boney if identify David Camm in the courtroom.
"Mr. Camm is sitting right there," Boney said, indicating Camm. "In the suit, blue tie, looking very dapper."
Meyer's direct examination completed, the jury was ushered out of the courtroom for a brief recess.
Out of the jury's presence…
The court met again, outside of the presence of the jury. Camm was visibly shaken, and appeared to be near tears, as he was consoled by defense attorney Richard Kammen.
Stacy Uliana, co-counsel for the defense, rose to make a statement. Very shortly, the defense team expected to cross-examine Charles Boney, and they had a request of the judge: they wanted to be allowed to bring details Boney's prior criminal history – other than just the dates, charges, convictions and sentences -- into the cross examination.
"I'm gonna try to go slow," Uliana said, adding that she believed "there are multiple ways" the prosecution "opened the door" to details of Boney's violent crimes, which allegedly included robbing women at gunpoint and demanding their shoes.
Uliana said the prosecution team was bringing up Boney's criminal history "just enough" to show that we was the perfect candidate to be a "patsy," "but not enough that he had the disposition to do this himself."
"You cannot open the door and close it when you want, at your convenience," she said. "Now we've just heard for the last hour Charles Boney spin the story he's been working on… and we get to show that that is a lie."
She added that the defense team should be allowed to bring in the details after the prosecution postulated in their opening statements that Kim's murder was a staged sex crime. Her argument: If prosecutors get to argue that it's staged, the defense team gets to argue that it's not. That Charles Boney – a man with a foot fetish and a history of violent crimes against women – committed a real sex crime.
"They opened the door to it, that's the bottom line," she said.
She said that Boney was not only central to the case, "He is the case."
"Everybody knows he knows the answer," she said, referring to the question of what happened in the garage on Sept. 28, 2000. "His credibility is at the heart of this case."
She then threw down the gauntlet, prophesying that the Indiana Supreme Court would reverse the verdict in this trial "if our cross examination is limited in any way."
Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer rose to counter the defense's arguments.
"Your honor, this state does not believe anything has changed since you ruled on this issue," he said, adding he didn't think "we need to negotiate it now."
"This case is not about Charles Boney," Meyer said. "The defense has made this allegation before… this case is about David Camm."
"What is clearly going on here is the defense wants to make this the State of Indiana vs. Charles Boney and they want to prosecute it for us," he said.
"I think it is highly unlikely… that there will be any type of reversible error," he said.
"This case is 13 years old," Uliana said later. "If ever we should be worried about what the Supreme Court may or may not do, it's this case."
After lunch, the judge issued a ruling. He said the state did not "open the door" to the details of Boney's prior convictions during their opening statements, but the defense will be able to speak about his changing stories.
Unsure of whether or not Boney's responses to these questions would bring in information the jury wasn't supposed to hear, the defense team was allowed to bring him in – outside of the jury's presence – and question him in a "offer of proof," a sort of mock cross examination the jury would never see.
During this time, Boney was questioned about his foot fetish, the details of his prior criminal history, letters he wrote to convince judges to end his prison sentences early, attacks against women, alleged racial comments he made about white women and other details.
When the questioning was concluded, judge Jonathan Dartt clarified what the defense team would be able to ask Boney about when the jury came back into the room.
"If you're referring to the change in stories, you're fine," he said, referencing the different stories Boney told investigators over the years. "If you're referring to the foot fetish, you're not fine."
An emotional Uliana took the moment to vent that the jury, in her view, wouldn't get the full story about Boney.
"It's frustrating," she told Dartt. "It's so frustrating… the bottom line, you're honor, is he is violent!"
She blasted the "absurdities and lies being thrown at the jury."
She added later, "with all due respect, it's getting crazy."
Then it was Judge Dartt's turn to vent.
"Alright, I'm going to stop this right now," he said, sternly. He then told the attorneys that he would be sticking with the Indiana Supreme Court's ruling not to include details of Boney's prior criminal history in the case.
"It works both ways," he said, referencing evidence that prosecutors wanted to have in the case, but couldn't. "Now I am doing the best I can to balance the equities, and I am doing the best I can" to be fair to both sides.
"We've ruled on that and we're moving on," he said.
Defense attorney Richard Kammen would note moments later that he had never seen a case in which a defendant's 5th, 6th 8th and 14th Amendment rights had been violated the way David Camm's had.
Boney Cross Examination
It was 3:35 when the jury was brought back into the courtroom.
"We have been very busy," a smiling Judge Dartt told them. "So even though you have not been in here, we have been very busy."
Defense attorney Richard Kammen then rose to cross examine Charles Boney. He walked Boney through his prior convictions of armed robbery in 1992 – but not getting into the details involving alleged incidents where Boney held a gun to the victim's head.
"You have described your life as a life of senseless mistakes," Kammen said.
"That's fair to say, yes," Boney replied.
Kammen then added that the robberies were not mistakes, since no one forced Boney to commit them.
The defense attorney also brought up Boney's time in the National Guard, in which he learned to shoot rifles, grenade launchers and other weapons, taking "the entry level course in how to kill people."
Boney replied that, "that would be fair to say, sir."
Kammen noted that in Oct. 2000, shortly after the Camm family murders, Boney moved to Louisville suddenly.
"I wouldn't say it was suddenly," he said.
Kammen pointed out that Boney stayed out of Indiana completely from then on, until 2004, when he had to appear in Bloomington for a court proceeding…
Note from the writer…
Court recessed after 6 p.m. on Monday. Charles Boney's cross examination will continue Tuesday morning. Portions of today's cross examination that didn't make it into today's blog entry will be included in tomorrow's post.
Travis K. Kircher is a web producer for WDRB News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.