Trooper David Camm in happier times...
Photo credit: All photos courtesy CBS News
...and being interviewed in prison by CBS Correspondent Richard Schlesinger.
Witnesses or forensics? Which would you believe?
What do juries consider when deliberating? According to two separate Indiana juries that tried this murder case, it sure isn't alibi witnesses. In fact, the circumstances surrounding the horrific murders of Kimberly Camm and her two children, Bradley and Jill, in the garage of their home in September 2000, have led to an overturned murder conviction of former Indiana State Trooper David Camm, and resulted in Camm's second trial and conviction, along with separate murder trial and conviction of an ex-con named Charles Boney. Oh yeah, another convict has accused Boney of plotting this murder while still in jail, but he was not allowed to testify.
To get a closer look at this baffling murder case I interviewed CBS News reporter Richard Schlesinger, whose 48 Hours Mystery special, "Murder On Lockhart Road" will air this Saturday, December 9th, 2006, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network. Schlesinger has been following this story from the very beginning, and while he does not wish to come down on one side or the other of this controversial case, he did tell me, "It's not like there's more to the crime scene than meets the eye. It's all there, but they [the investigators and prosecutors] didn't know what it meant."
From what I can determine, here is what is known. Former Trooper David Camm makes a frantic call to police at 9:29 P.M., to say that his wife and kids have been murdered. The police arrive to find the wife shot to death on the garage floor, and both kids shot dead inside the family's Ford Bronco. Within hours, Camm had become the only suspect.
David Camm tells the police that he had returned home from playing basketball at his church with eleven of his friends and relatives. All eleven people confirm this fact to the police in subsequent interviews. The games started at about 7:15 PM.
According to Camm's uncle, Sam Lockhart, and nearly a dozen other people, Camm was playing basketball with them between 7:05 and 9:22 PM. While the testimony of these alibi witnesses at trial indicated that Camm did not play ball every minute of every game, all of the witnesses testified that he never left the gym. Lockhart made a pre-trial statement to the press and claimed that "the defense can establish and prove beyond any doubt that David would have had only 90 to 120 seconds to get into an argument with his wife, struggle with her, beat her, kill his wife and children and then dispose of the gun so well that it has not been recovered." The drive time between the church gym and the Camm home is approximately 5 minutes.
Laboratory examination of David Camm's t-shirt reveals eight minute blood spots, typically referred to as blood "spatter" or "splatter." The blood on the shirt is determined by DNA to be that of his daughter Jill. The prosecution's expert claims high velocity blood mist or "blowback" caused the close-range transfer, while Camm's expert claims the transfer occurred when Camm discovered the bodies and leaned in the car where his kids had died. This jury apparently believed the prosecution's expert.
At the crime scene, a mysterious gray sweatshirt is found in the Bronco, underneath Brad. This sweatshirt could not be linked to Camm. It had the word "Backbone" written on the inside tag, and it contained the DNA of a stranger. There was also unknown DNA evidence on both Kim's and Brad's pants, as well as latent fingerprints on the Ford Bronco that did not belong to any of the Camms. Somehow, this DNA was not processed thru CODIS, the FBI Laboratory's COmbined DNA Index System, until 2005, when it was identified as belonging to an ex-con named Charles Boney, aka "Backbone." The latent fingerprints on the Bronco were positively identified as Boney's as well.
Also at the crime scene were Kimberly Camm's shoes, neatly placed on top of her Bronco, apparently too high up for the 5'4" Kimberly to place there. Autopsy reports and testimony by Medical Examiner Donna Hunsaker described other wounds in addition to the gunshot on Kimberly Camm's body. These included a tear to her right front index finger, two abrasions on her back elbow, injuries to both knees, and bruises and abrasions to both feet.
The prosecution's assertion of time of death varied depending upon circumstances and turns of events. Determining the exact time of death from a medical perspective is never an exact science, since there are many variables that come into play, but from the outside it appears that the proposed times of death varied with the prosecution's changing theories and timeline. What is certain is that Kimberly picked up her kids from swim class at 7 P.M. and went home, arriving at approximately 7:30 PM.
The autopsy report on little Jill was obtained by the press, and revealed that there was DNA evidence associated with a traumatic injury to her vagina. This led to speculation by the prosecutor that Camm had returned home from basketball, sexually abused his daughter Jill, and then killed them all, followed by his 9:29 P.M. phone call to the police. Whether this was a matter of erroneous reporting, or an intentional plant of information, every armchair CSI knows that DNA comes from bodily fluids, and that trauma involves some sort of physical wound caused by contact. The complete autopsy failed to find any presence of semen or DNA not belonging to Jill.
The next change in time of death occurred with the discovery that Camm made a business telephone call from his home at 7:19 P.M. That would have put him at home, rather than at the basketball game with the 11 other witnesses. The prosecutor was convinced that the phone records were not wrong, and that the eleven alibi witnesses were. The new theory went something like this: Camm must have sexually abused his daughter, then killed the family, then went to join the basketball game, which was already in progress. Right?
This time-of-death theory changed when it was discovered that a computer software error in the telephone company records system was caused by different time zones between the Camm house and the phone company facility. Therefore, the call was actually made at 6:19 PM.
The final prosecution theory, and apparently the one that has been accepted by two juries, is that Camm left the basketball game at some point in time, drove the five minutes to his house, killed his family, and returned to the game. The first jury must also have believed that Camm was able to dispose of the murder weapon, which has never been recovered.
Another motive? Sexual affairs with other women. At the first trial, the prosecution presented the testimony of 12 women claiming to have had various types of relationships with Camm. Some were long term sexual relationships, and others were casual flirting.
Blood spatter, prior marital infidelity, and an unsubstantiated allegation of child abuse all seemed to contribute to Camm's conviction at his first trial. These same things led to the verdict being overturned by the Indiana Appeals Court.
When the mystery sweatshirt was finally tested in 2005, DNA and fingerprint evidence identified Charles Boney. Another inmate, Ronnie Weldon, saw the story on a newscast. Weldon told prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the Courier-Journal newspaper that that several months prior to the murders, while still in prison, "Boney vowed to kill a policeman's family and frame him for the crime." Weldon went on to say in an interview with the Courier-Journal, "He said he could blow the whole family away. He said, 'Yeah, I'm capable of that.' " Weldon was not allowed to testify at Camm's second trial, a key to the appeal now being prepared by Camm's attorneys.
So, the first David Camm verdict is overturned in 2004. In 2005, the mystery DNA and fingerprints lead to the identification and arrest of Charles Boney. Boney's criminal history included robberies and assaults on women involving their shoes. A "slam dunk" for Camm's defense, right? Wrong. After initially denying knowing Camm, and claiming that he gave his sweatshirt to the Salvation Army, Boney then confesses to his involvement, but claims that Camm paid him $250 for a clean gun which he delivered to Camm, wrapped in the "Backbone" sweatshirt.
According to correspondent Schlesinger, "Boney had a foot fetish, and admitted to putting Kimberly's shoes on top of the Bronco. His DNA and prints were certainly at the crime scene. In separate trials and in different venues, both Boney and Camm are convicted of these murders. Amazingly, the judge in the Camm trial gave a directed verdict dismissing the conspiracy charge against Camm."
So, whodunit? Was this a cunning plot by an ex-con to kill the family of a law enforcement officer and frame him for it, as alleged by Weldon? Or was this a foot fetish assault gone badly? Or was the first jury correct in thinking that Camm wanted to be free of his wife so that he could continue his womanizing, as well as escape any accusations of molesting his daughter?
To find out what CBS Correspondent Schlesinger has documented, make sure to watch the CBS 48 Hours Mystery special, "Murder On Lockhart Road," this Saturday, December 9th, 2006, at 9 P.M. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.
I will appreciate any feedback from you, and I promise to pass it along to CBS Correspondent Richard Schlesinger as well. You can e-mail me by clicking on my name below.