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LEBANON, Ind. (WDRB) -- After 13 years of legal wrangling, the jury in the third David Camm triple murder trial found him not guilty on Thursday.
Immediately after the announcement, Camm's sister, Julie Blankenbaker exclaimed, "Praise the Lord!"
WDRB's Bennett Haeberle says the verdict was read at 12:38. Less than an hour later, Camm was seen walking out of the Boone County Courthouse a free man, not wearing the jacket that he typically held draped over his handcuffs as Indiana State Troopers led him into the building each day.
The Camm family wept uncontrollably as the verdict was read, Haeberle says. As for the Renns, Kim Camm's family, they remained silent, with expressions Haeberle described as "stoic."
Camm was taken to another building to be processed before being released. His brother, Donnie Camm, described the family meeting with David Camm immediately after the verdict was read: "We just went in the back room, we had asked the judge and the deputies if we could go back with him for a few minutes. Myself, my sister, my sister's husband, my dad, and also Sam Lockhart, there's actually five of us, and we just hugged and cried and we held Dave and we just said, 'Thank God.'"
The Boone Co. Sheriff tells WDRB's Valerie Chinn that Camm thanked him Thursday for the way he was treated at the jail. He says Camm left with only a few personal belongings.
Camm was processed out of jail quickly, taken to a truck stop, and handed off to his family. He is out of the area right now, and his family will not say where he is staying.
Prosecutor, Camm attorneys react to verdict
"We put on as good of a case as we could," said Special Prosecutor Stan Levco outside the Boone County Courthouse. "And the jury spoke pretty clearly."
Defense attorney Stacy Uliana, asked about the new Touch DNA evidence that was introduced, said, "What it says is that when science is applied over the past 13 years, their case has fallen apart. Every time it gets weaker and weaker because the science gets better and better."
"He has been fighting since three days after his family was murdered to prove his innocence," said Camm attorney Richard Kammen. "And he couldn't even attend his family's funeral....This is complete vindication after 13 horrific years."
As for what Camm might do next, Uliana said, "First, he has to mourn his family. He was never given the opportunity to mourn his family."
Camm's attorney from his second trial was one of many who came to support Camm in the courtroom. Kitty Liell said, "I knew Dave was innocent. I knew this day was coming....I never stopped believing. I stayed committed to hope, because I just, as hard as it could be in the justice system not to become cynical -- you know, I didn't want to eat from that apple. The apple of cynicism is a bitter apple and I wasn't going to eat that. I wanted to stay in the light of hope.
Camm, Renn family reaction
Camm's brother, Donnie said, "We know Kim and Brad and Jill are in heaven, and they're having a party for their daddy right now."
After seeing his brother leave the courthouse, Donnie Camm said of the trials he and his family have endured: "It never should have happened in the first place....We've been right all along."
David Camm's uncle Sam Lockhart said, "We just looked at each other and he said, 'Thank you,' and I said, 'We did it,' that type thing. We hugged, he was crying, of course, and I probably was too, so, and that's OK."
As for what Camm might do next, Camm's sister Julie Blankenbaker said, "Whether those people in New Albany will receive him is the furthest thing from my mind, and if they won't at this point, that's too bad, shame on them."
The Renn family left the courthouse without speaking to the media. Their lawyer said it was a difficult and emotional time for them.
Reaction from Stan Faith, prosecutor in first Camm trial
Stan Faith, who prosecuted the first Camm trial, maintained that David Camm wanting to end his marriage was a motive for the killings. An appeals court through out the verdict on the basis of that concept being introduced into the trial.
Faith says without that motive, it was difficult for jury members to put their fingers on the reason for the crime. "The appellate court tried to pare this down to what they considered a fair trial, without irrelevant evidence. And it made it more difficult because the experts testified against each other, and I myself would wonder if I was sitting on that jury who to believe."
Cost of the trial
The latest figure on the cost of the third Camm trial is $1.4 million, with the cost of all three trials coming in at $4 million. The chief expenses for the third trial were for defense attorneys and expert witnesses.
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson addressed the cost of the trial: "The Floyd County taxpayers, they're still recovering from this, so we'll have to recover for a long time. It was probably an historical amount of money spent on these trials combined, and I haven't heard the latest figure, but I know we're in the millions. So I think that has to be looked at moving forward for the county and we'll just have to work through it the best we can."
The Floyd County Council was set to meet Thursday night to discuss next year's budget, which could have a shortfall of $3 million or more, much of that due to the Camm trial's expenses.
Julie Blankenbaker, Camm's sister, said that was the cost of David Camm fighting for its freedom.
Background on the Camm case
Camm was twice convicted of killing his wife, Kim, and their two children, Jill and Brad, in the garage of their Georgetown home on September 28, 2000, but both convictions were overturned on appeal.
Blood spatter was the focus of much of the third trial, with prosecutors looking to refute the defense's contention that Jill's blood got on Camm's T-shirt when he reached over her in the Bronco to get his son out of the car to try to save him.
The jury heard testimony from prosecution blood expert Tom Bevel, who showed pictures reconstructing the shooting inside the Ford Bronco, using mannequins to represent the children. Bevel used one of those mannequins to depict Jill and a dowel rod to show the path of the bullet to her head. A laser pointer indicated the possible path of the blood spatter to Camm's shirt.
Defense attorney Richard Kammen criticized the photos, pointing out that Bevel didn't take notes on angles. Kammen also said blood wouldn't travel in a straight line, as depicted by the laser, but in a parabolic arc.
For their part, prosecutors during the trial picked apart the testimony given by one of the defense's star witnesses, Dr. Richard Eikelenboom, concerning "Touch DNA." Eikelenboom testified that he found Charles Boney's DNA on Kim Camm's sweater and underwear, and Jill Camm's shirt.
A prosecution witness, Norah Rudin, a private DNA consultant who has testified in more than 50 trials, criticized Eikelenboom's findings because, she said, he used inappropriate quantities of DNA in his tests. She said his findings are impossible to interpret. Rudin also criticized the DNA probability statistics Eikelenboom generated, calling them "faulty."
During a break, defense attorney Richard Kammen argued that Rudin is far from a DNA expert, calling her nothing more than a lab technician.
At one point, Rudin asked Kammen how he wanted her to answer his question, and he replied "truthfully." Special Prosecutor Stan Levco objected, and Kammen quickly apologized.
Another issue in the trial was whether Camm left a pickup basketball game the night of the murders. Two witnesses said they never noticed Camm acting strangely that night and never noticed him leave the gym. Jeff and Martin Dickey are brothers who claim they were playing basketball with Camm on the night his family was murdered, and that Camm sat out during a 5-on-5 game, but never saw him leave the gym.
The prosecution claimed Camm left the gym that night and killed his family. Both witnesses said that during the pickup game they never noticed blood on Camm's clothing.
Charles Boney, who was convicted of the murders and is serving a 225-year sentence, testified. He said Camm had approached him about obtaining an untraceable handgun. After selling Camm one gun, Boney says he went to Camm's house to sell him a second weapon.
Boney told jurors he was waiting for Camm to pay him for the second gun when Kim and the children pulled into the garage in the family's Ford Bronco. Boney says that's when David Camm shot his family to death.
The defense team painted Boney as a liar, a convicted felon, and a man who has changed his story several times.
One morning as he entered the courthouse, Boney was asked how often he thinks of Kim, Jill and Brad "Every day," Boney replied. "I suspect it'll be always like that."
The David Camm case even attracted attention beyond the courtroom. Thirteen years after the crime, it was being taught in the classroom.
A group of high school seniors from Prosser Career Education Center has been studying the David Camm case for college credit. They admit, sometimes they feel a personal connection. The high school seniors were five years old in September of 2000, when Brad, Jill, and Kim Camm were murdered.
Back in September, the students went on a hands-on field trip to the courtroom to observe Camm's murder trial. "It's nothing like TV, of course," said student Greg Huda. "I got to see a lot of back-and-forth between the prosecution and defense."
When asked how they would decide if asked to deliver a verdict, the reaction was mixed: three undecided, and three not guilty, and one who said, "Uncertain, but after Boney, he's going home."