Criminal Trial Of David Camm
Third Times the Charm for David Camm
It has taken 13 years and three trials for former Indiana policeman David Camm to finally walk out of prison, exonerated from two previous murder convictions.
It was September of 2000 when David Camm arrived home and opened his garage door to find a grizzly scene; his wife lay in a pool of her own blood, shot to death, and his two small children, also shot, in the backseat of the family Ford Bronco. He quickly grabbed his son, age seven, out of the backseat as he appeared to still be alive. But it was only after he pulled him out of the car that he noticed it was too late and his entire family was dead in his own garage.
Usually, when the police are investigating a murder, they start with interviewing those that were closest to the victim(s), and from there, they work their way through the victims inner circle, not only to eliminate those known by the victim, but also to piece together the victims final hours. Almost always when one spouse is murdered, the other spouse is immediately questioned as a potential suspect. So, the police bring in David Camm for questioning and take his clothing for analysis, all of which are standard procedure. His alibi for the time of the murder was simple; he was at church playing basketball with 10 or so other men, all of whom could vouch for his attendance that night. Could he have snuck out while playing basketball, driven the five minutes or so from the church to his house, committed the murders, and driven back before any of his teammates could notice?
That was the question leading the prosecution. It was established that he had been playing basketball; perhaps Camm did leave and come back, without anyone noticing that he had left. Tiny traces of blood were found on the shirt that Camm was wearing, which Camm said were from when pulled his son out of the backseat to try to save him. Of course blood could have transferred onto David from when he was holding his son, who was covered in blood. Could it have also been there as blood spatter from the shot that killed the victims?
Next, there was the question of motive. What motivation would David Camm have had to murder his entire family in cold blood? There wasnt a large life insurance payout coming, so it couldnt have been a financial reason. Was David unhappy with his life? Did he have an affair and was desperate for a way out to be with another woman? Women did testify that Camm was a flirt who made suggestive remarks, and therefore, was probably having an affair. The trial ended in a guilty verdict on all three counts of murder and he was sentenced to nearly 200 years in prison.
Camm appealed his verdict, and surprisingly was able to succeed. The appeal stated that the statements from those women who said that Camm was a flirt and an adulterer were not reliable nor credible testimony. Therefore, a huge part of the guilty verdict could have been based on the testimony of these women. Now the pressing question was, if their testimony was not heard by the jury, would there have been a different outcome? The question lingered, and a mistrial was declared, charges were filed again and a new trial was set, without the hearsay testimony of the women.
During the first trial, there was some evidence found in the backseat of the Bronco where the children were found. There was a sweatshirt with unidentified male DNA and the word BACKBONE written along the inside of the back collar. The DNA remained unidentified until the time of the second trial, where there was finally a match, which after testing, was found that the sample belong to convicted a con man, Charles Boney, who was already serving time in prison for unrelated crimes, and was known to have the nickname, Backbone. When Boney was questioned about the sweatshirt, he said weeks before the murders he had dropped it in a clothing donation box and somehow, David Camm must have ended up with it and placed it at the crime scene. It was also discovered that Camms young daughter was sexually assaulted, leading the prosecution in a new motive.
Armed with the new allegation that Camms young daughter was sexually assaulted before she was shot to death, prosecutors now had a new-found motive for the murders. Since the testimony of the women was no longer admissible, the proposed motive was that Camm had been sexually molesting his daughter when his wife found out, causing a fight, and resulting in the deaths of all three of the family members. Experts from both sides argued the source of the droplets of blood found on David Camms shirt; the defense claimed it was there from picking up the lifeless child, while the prosecution claimed it was there from standing near the victims when firing the fatal shots. In the end, another guilty verdict was reached and Camm was sentenced to life without parole.
Then, for the second time, an appeal was filed, which found many issues that took place at trial, including testimony from medical examiners saying that Camms daughter was definitely molested, and without a doubt, by her father. Ultimately, there was no solid proof that was she was for sure molested or that Camm was the perpetrator that was all speculation and assumption based on theory of motive. The court reversed the conviction and charges were filed again.
The third and final trial began in August 2013. Without the evidence of molestation, or the testimony from the women eluding to an affair, coupled with the DNA found on the sweatshirt being now identified as Charles Boneys, the jury came to a verdict for David Camm: not guilty. After 13 years, three trials, and two appeals, he finally was hearing the words that lead to his freedom. He is able to maintain his innocence.
Later, Charles Boney was tried and found guilty of the three murders. Tied by the physical evidence of a palm print found at the scene and the DNA found on his shirt, he was convicted, despite his many stories and allegations, including that Camm had paid him to murder his family.
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If you were on the first and second juries, how would you have voted? Was this a slam-dunk case, or was there enough reasonable doubt from the start?
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