DAVID CAMM BLOG: Tears
Sept. 25, 2013
LEBANON, Ind. (WDRB) -- Wednesday brought with it perhaps the most emotional day thus far in the third David Camm triple murder trial -- though it didn't start out that way.
It began, oddly enough, with several games of basketball.
Witness: Tom Jolly
Member of Georgetown Community Church
Friend of the Lockhart family
The first witness of the day was Tom Jolly, a man who claimed he was present at the Georgetown Community Church gymnasium on Sept. 28, 2000 -- the night of the murders. David Camm told investigators that he was playing basketball at the gym that night while the murders took place, and in the past 10 basketball players have stood by that assertion.
The defense admits that Camm wasn't playing basketball the entire night. They say he sat out one game -- and Tom Jolly is the one who knows what he was doing during that game.
"I met David through church affiliation many, many years ago," Jolly said.
An attendee of the Georgetown Community Church, Jolly had many roles, including serving on the church council, serving on the board of trustees and serving on the building committee.
Jolly explained that the church's gymnasium was actually referred to as a "family life center" -- a place where Bible studies, suppers and AA meetings could be held in addition to sports events for the neighborhood.
"We built it for the intentions of our youth, and also for an outreach program," he said.
They tried to plan basketball events every Thursday, which would be open to both church members and outsiders.
Defense attorney Stacy Uliana walked Jolly through the events of Sept. 28, 2000.
"Is this a night you've thought of often?" she asked.
"For 13 years," Jolly replied.
Jolly said he went to the family life center to watch the basketball game because he had been on the building committee and he wanted to see how the building was being used. He said he arrived around 8:15 p.m.
"How many parking lots are there around the church?" Uliana asked.
"When I went in, I saw David playing basketball," Jolly testified. "There were probably 10 boys playing basketball."
"I went over and stood against the wall," he said.
Jolly said he was there about 10 minutes when the game ended and Camm sat out, walking over to talk with him.
"Dave came over and started talking to you?" Uliana asked.
"Yes," Jolly said. "At least 10-15 minutes."
Jolly said Camm asked him about his youngest son, and they compared notes about the athletic ability and competitiveness of the other basketball players.
"So this was more than just a little small talk," Uliana said. "This was a conversation."
"Did you see Sam Lockhart in that game?" Uliana asked.
"Yes I did," Jolly said, adding a moment later that, "I've known Sam many, many years. We've played ball together. I've known him longer than I've known David."
Jolly told the jury he can't play basketball anymore because of a heart condition.
"Did a part of you want to be out there?" Uliana asked.
"Yes ma'am," he said. "Very much so."
After a few minutes of speaking with him, Jolly said David Camm excused himself so he could go to the sidelines and do some running and stretching. He said he did this for 2-3 minutes, before joining the next game.
Uliana asked if Jolly could vouch for Camm's whereabouts.
"David did not leave that gym while I was there," he said.
Did he act strangely?
"No ma'am," Jolly said. "He acted like he was having fun and enjoyed being there."
At any point, did Jolly see blood on Camm's shoes?
"No ma'am, I did not," he said.
Jolly said no one called him before Camm was arrested to question him about Camm's whereabouts. It was early October 2000 before he would meet with Sean Clemmons, the lead investigator on the case at the time.
"I told him I had been talking to David that night, during the basketball games," he said.
He said earlier this year, he spoke with police again.
"Thirteen years after the murders, you get a formal interview with the police," Uliana said.
Jolly then recalled that later events of Sept. 28, 2000, when he first got home -- not far from where David Camm lived -- and became aware of the murders.
"I saw a helicopter flying over," Jolly said. "I went stupidly down there and left my wife alone."
He said the murders were shocking to his community.
"We live in a very nice neighborhood," he said, explaining that they never locked their doors. "It's disruptive to a lot of lives."
"There were a lot of police cars -- a lot of media," he added.
Uliana summed up Jolly's testimony.
"In order for David Camm to kill his family, there has to be an opportunity for him to leave that gym," she said.
Is there any doubt in Jolly's mind that Camm was there the whole time?
"No doubt at all," Jolly said.
But Special Prosecutor Stan Levco wasn't as convinced.
"Do you know whether or not David Camm killed his family around 7:30?" Levco asked.
"I do not know that," Jolly said.
Jolly did testify that he had met with the defense team at Sam Lockhart's house years ago to discuss the basketball game.
Levco then asked him about the details of the basketball games.
"Can you actually remember all these things?" he asked.
"Very vividly," Jolly said.
Levco asked if he remembered the team taking a break so vividly "he could actually see them drinking water." Jolly said that he could.
"This whole ordeal has had such an impact on my family and several other families that I'll never forget it," he added a short time later.
Witness: Nelson Lockhart
David Camm's uncle, brother of Sam Lockhart
Former Kentucky State Police officer
A short time later, Nelson Lockhart took the stand for what would prove to be very emotional testimony.
Nelson Lockhart told the jury he has lived in Louisville since 1973, and served both as a Kentucky State Police officer and as a Jefferson County Police officer. He retired in 1994 and began working for Sonitrol and as a salesman for Sam Lockhart, his brother.
He said he sold the a Sonitrol alarm system to the Georgetown Community Church. The system was installed in the family life center, and was operable the night of the murders.
Nelson Lockhart said that on Sept. 28. 2000, his father was 92 years old and lived across the street from David Camm. He said his family didn't want his father to go to a nursing home or assisted living facility, so he and his eight sibling took turns staying with him.
"There was enough of us that we could share the time of being with him," Nelson Lockhart said.
He added that on Sept. 28, 2000, he was there.
Nelson Lockhart said that Rusty the dog -- a golden retriever -- was a regular staple of the neighborhood. He called her a "community dog."
"Rusty was a female," he said. "She would stay with anyone who would feed her."
Nelson Lockhart said he arrived at his father's house at about 4:35 p.m. and read the log his family kept up on his father's care.
He walked outside a few minutes later and saw Rusty with a golf ball in her mouth.
"She walked up to me with her tail wagging and dropped it off by my feet," he said.
He added that they would often chip golf balls and allow Rusty to retrieve them.
"We liked this because we didn't have to chase them and bring the balls back," he said.
"Golfers in the audience would love this dog," defense attorney Richard Kammen offered.
"Yes," Nelson Lockhart replied.
He testified that he went back inside the home and began making cornbread for his father.
The discussion then turned to Kim, Brad and Jill. Nelson Lockhart said that because David Camm's family lived just a couple of hundred of feet away, he and his father saw them often.
Then, unexpectedly, he broke down.
"My dad loved children like the whole family does," he said, sobbing. "They brought joy to him. They'd be all over him and loving him."
"He'd often ask, 'Are the babies coming today?'" Nelson Lockhart added.
During the testimony, many in the court -- including Janice Renn and several members of the Lockhart family -- were crying. A juror could be seen wiping her eyes.
"It never goes away," Nelson Lockhart said of his memories of the murders. "It never goes away."
An apologetic Kammen then asked Lockhart to recall the moment he first learned of the killings. He said he sees it in "flashes" and "sometimes it gets a little muddled."
He said his father loved to watch the evening news at 7 p.m., followed by a couple of episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. His father had a hearing problem so when they watched television...
"...it was loud," Nelson Lockhart said.
But that's when, Lockhart said, their lives were shattered.
"First I heard the loud banging on the kitchen door," Nelson testified. He said he was on the phone with his brother, Sam Lockhart, when a panicked David Camm came to the door.
"I hear David screaming at the top of his voice, 'Nelson, Nelson come quick!'" Lockhart testified. He said Camm told him someone killed his family.
He broke down on the stand again.
"I apologize..." he told the jury.
He then testified that he ran barefoot across the street to David Camm's house, just in time to see Camm kneeling over his son, Bradley, attempting to give CPR.
"I see Kim lying on the floor on her back, her feet toward the door on the passenger side, with a pool of blood around her head," Nelson Lockhart said.
He broke down again.
Nelson Lockhart said he checked on Jill Camm, who was still slumped over her seat belt in the back seat of the Bronco, a bullet wound in her head.
"I called her name and said, 'Jill! Jilly!" Lockhart said. "She was cool. Clammy."
"Did you think she was dead?" Kammen asked.
"Yes I did."
Nelson Lockhart said at one point, an emotional David Camm screamed, "Why did I have to go play basketball?" At one point, Lockhart said, he fell down wailing: "a terrible, terrible sound."
"I didn't look at him as anything other than a man grieving over his kids," Lockhart said.
He told the jury he didn't see blood on Camm's face, but he wasn't looking for it.
That's when Rusty came running with a stick in her mouth.
"We have a crime scene here that doesn't need to be disturbed," Lockhart said. He said that both he and David Camm locked her in a detached garage.
"Both of us had our hands on her and we forced her in and shut the door," he said.
He said Sam Lockhart arrived a short time later, and both he and David Camm wanted to go into the garage, but he had to stop them.
"I said, 'Sam, this is a murder scene -- you can't go in,'" Nelson Lockhart testified.
A short time later, the Indiana State Police arrived, as did then-Floyd County Prosecutor Stan Faith, Nelson Lockhart said.
Lockhart said he called his brother, Leland. He called his sister. And he called his wife. He also observed David Camm's reactions.
"You've done, during your career, death notifications," Kammen said.
"Yes, I have given death notifications," Nelson Lockhart said. "And no, you don't know what to expect. He explained that has seen reactions ranging from being attacked, to someone passing out, to a simple blank stare.
"It's hard to explain how a person should act," he said.
Nelson Lockhart said that for a time he tried to be strong.
"You can't be the one who breaks down," he said. "You have to hold it in. I've learned to do that over the years."
But he said his defenses fell later that night, when lead investigator Sean Clemmons told him that Indiana State Police would not be responsible for cleaning up the crime scene -- the family would have to do it. Nelson Lockhart said at that point, he broke down.
"That's not something you talk to a person about -- the victim's family," he said.
Upon cross examination, Special Prosecutor Stan Levco pointed out that Camm stopped giving his son Bradley CPR, so he could run across the street and tell Nelson about the murders, then restarted. Levco noted that CPR isn't supposed to be interrupted.
"I can't read why he did it," he said.
Witnesses: Mark Werncke and Scott Schrank
A short time later, the jury heard from Mark Werncke and Scott Schrank, two men who claim they were playing basketball with David Camm at the Georgetown Community Church gymnasium the night of the murders.
Werncke testified that he arrived at the gym at approximately 7 p.m. He said David Camm was one of the original players who played in the first game.
How many games did he sit out?
"I think just one," Werncke said.
During that time, Werncke said Camm was "sitting there at the end of the gym with Tom Jolly."
"Yeah, he was definitely there."
Scott Schrank gave similar testimony, saying Camm sat out one game.
"He was either walking or jogging right on the out-of-bounds line," he said.
Upon cross examination, Schrank told Levco that he had a falling out of sorts with Jeff Lockhart over the details of the basketball game. He said some time after the murders, he got a call from Lockhart, wanting to discuss the events of the day, as they would be relaying them to investigators.
"He said, 'Be careful what you're saying to people,'" Schrank testified, adding that Lockhart was concerned the basketball players' accounts might not be lining up.
"It kind of upset me because I'm just telling exactly what I remember," he said.
Uliana then had Schrank point out that no one was asked to change their testimony.
Witness: Debbie Ter Vree
David Camm's aunt
Late Wednesday afternoon, the court heard emotional testimony from Debbie Ter Vree, David Camm's aunt who lived behind the Camm residence with her husband and daughter, Hannah, at the time of the murders.
She said Hannah, who is a 21-year-old college student now, was about Bradley Camm's age at the time of the murders. She said Hannah and the Camm children were "best buds" when the murders took place and would often be at each other's homes.
"They were just happy, happy kids," she said, indicating that they would run from yard to yard freely. "You never knew which child would be running in the door."
She then broke down in tears, noting that the Tuesday before the murders, Brad and Jill were at her home making chalk drawings on the driveway.
"They played and drew with chalk because the chalk work was on my driveway for a long time after that," she said.
On Sept. 28, 2000, she said she took her daughter Hannah to school, then picked her up afterward to take her for an eye doctor appointment in Clarksville, Ind.
At about 7:25 that night, they got home.
Did she notice anything odd about the Camm home?
"Yes I did," she said. "Normally they had a little green light on in the front room."
"That light was not on," she added.
Ter Vree said her daughter, Hannah, wanted to go over to the Camm house to play with Brad and Jill, but she told her not to because the lights were off and she wasn't sure they were home.
One of the defense attorneys pointed out that she almost let Hannah go -- and she would have ended up right in the middle of the crime, perhaps as it happened. But Ter Vree noted, thankfully, that she did not.
"Thank God," she said.
The conversation briefly turned to the dog Rusty -- the Camm family dog -- and her appearance near the crime scene that night, and Ter Vree again broke down, recalling an incident after the murders when Rusty was lost for three days -- and Hannah lamented that she had nothing to remember Brad and Jill by.
"My daughter said one time, 'Mom, that's all I have left,'" Ter Vree said, sobbing. The dog was eventually found.
Ter Vree testified that on the night of the murders, she heard a banging sound.
"I heard some noise -- like a thumping and pounding noise," she said. She couldn't identify where it was coming from.
Moments later, she said she saw two state troopers standing outside her door. They were there to notify her of the murders.
"I remember them saying there was a homicide at the Dave Camm house," she said. "I remember also that I was on the floor. I must have been crying or screaming."
"Then I remember my brother Sam barreling through the house yelling, 'Where's Hannah?'" she testified.
"I remember the looking on his face," she added. "He was grave-looking."
Later, she said lead investigator Sean Clemmons wrote in a report that she claimed to have heard three gunshots in rapid succession, and later used that as a basis to arrest Camm. She testified before the court today that she specifically said they were not gunshots -- they were a banging sound that was not similar to gunshots.
"I know what a gunshot sounds like," she said, pointing to her experience as an EMT and the wife of a law enforcement officer.
Debbie Ter Vree's husband, Robert Ter Vree, testified briefly at the end of the day. He said he arrived home that night at 7:30 p.m. and didn't notice anything odd.
"Any big tall black guys hanging out?" defense attorney Richard Kammen asked, with a clear reference to Charles Boney.
"No," he said.
Court was dismissed a short time later. We got out a little early today. And after such an emotional day, I think everyone -- from both sides of the case -- needed it.
Travis K. Kircher is a Web Producer for WDRB News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.