More than 3,750,000 pageviews from 150 countries


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dueling Experts in the David Camm Murder Case: Is Blood Spatter Analysis a True Science?

     On September 28, 2000, at 9:29 in the evening, David Camm called 911 and reported that he had discovered the murdered bodies of his wife, daughter and son in his garage. Upon arrival at Camm's house in New Albany, Indiana, police discovered Camm's wife Kimberly, his 5-year-old daughter Jill, and his 7-year-old son Brad in Kimberly's Ford Bronco. She and her daughter had been shot in the head. The boy had been shot in the chest. There were abrasions and bruises on Kimberly's knees, elbows, and feet.

     At seven in the evening on the day of the murders, Kimberly, with Jill in the car, picked up Brad from his swimming class. As they drove home, David, a former Indiana state trooper and employee of his uncle's construction company, left the house for his weekly basketball game with friends and relatives. According to eleven witnesses, Camm left the church gym for home at 9:17 PM. Twelve minutes later, he called 911.

     Medical examiner Donna Hunsaker found that although no semen had been recovered, the little girl had been sexually molested within hours before her death. From the onset, detectives suspected David Camm of murdering his family. The police and the Floyd County prosecutor, Stan Faith, believed that Camm had arrived home at 9:22, killed his family, disposed of the gun (it had not been recovered), cleaned up the crime scene, then called 911. But the crime scene evidence did not support this theory. The blood on the driveway had coagulated which suggested that the victims had been murdered before 9:22. If this were the case, David Camm had an iron-clad alibi. The prosecutor, to get around the alibi, decided that Camm had murdered his family before he left the house that night to play basketball.

     In the Ford Bronco, crime scene investigators had found a gray sweatshirt under Brad's body. DNA tests on this sweatshirt and the boy's clothing failed to connect the suspect to the scene. Several latent fingerprints lifted from the car did not belong to anyone in the family.

     In March of 2002, a jury found David Camm guilty of murdering his family. While the prosecution didn't have a motive, or a murder weapon, they had Robert Stites, a blood spatter analyst from Portland, Oregon who testified that eight tiny bloodstains on the defendant's t-shirt had come from spray made by the bullet fired into his daughter's head. The defense argued that Camm had stained his shirt when he embraced the victim. The judge imposed a 195-year sentence.

     In 2004, an Indiana appeals court set aside Camm's conviction on grounds of insufficient evidence. The prosecution promised a retrial. A year later, after the arrest of an armed robber and rapist named Charles Boney, investigators submitted his DNA to a data bank which linked him to the site of the Camm family murder. After initially denying that he knew David Camm, Boney told the police Camm had paid him $250 for the gun Camm had used to shoot his family. To explain the presence of his sweatshirt at crime scene, Boney said the gun had been wrapped in the shirt when he gave it to Camm.

     On the belief that Charles Boney had been Camm's crime scene accomplice, the authorities charged the 36-year-old with three counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. In January 2006, the jury found him guilty. A few months later, the judge sentenced Boney to 225 years in prison. After the trial, several jurors told reporters they believed David Camm was the actual shooter. Following Boney's conviction, a man he had served time in prison with, told the police that four months before the murders, Boney had said that when he got out, he planned to kill a police officer's family, and frame the cop.

     David Camm's second trial got underway in January 2006 with a new prosecutor, Keith Henderson, representing the state. On the third day of the trial, the Indiana State Police sergeant in charge of the crime scene investigation testified, under cross-examination, that within days of the murders, the prosecutor (Stan Faith) hired two outside blood spatter analysts to study the serological evidence. The private experts from Portland, Oregon were Rod Englert, and his protege, Robert Stites. (Stites had been the prosecution's key witness in the first trial.) Defense attorney Stacy Vliana asked the witness if he had been aware that Stites wasn't qualified to process crime scenes. Did the sergeant know that Stites hadn't even taken the 40-hour standard bloodstain analysis course? The witness said he had not been informed of Stites' professional background.

   The next day, on cross-examination, Stacy Viliana grilled Robert Stites on his lack of experience as a blood spatter expert. The witness acknowledged that he had not taken the introductory course. He said he had read one book on the subject in 1994. Two days after the Camm murders, he had traveled to New Albany, Indiana because his mentor, Robert Englert, was too busy to handle the case. This was the first murder scene Stites had processed on his own. He had examined the t-shirt David Camm had been wearing on the night of the crime. The shirt contained eight bloodstains, each about a millimeter in diameter, spots he considered consistent with blood sprayed from the impact of a bullet. The defense attorney asked Stites if he had known that the defendant, while wearing that t-shirt, had carried his daughter out of the Bronco. The witness said he had not been aware of that. Stites acknowledged that concerning blood spray staining from the impact of a bullet, one would expect to find hundreds of little spots, not just eight.

     Forensic scientist Lynn Scamahorn took the stand and testified that in Camm's first trial, prosecutor Stan Faith had tried to get her to change her testimony about the DNA evidence on Charles Boney's crime scene sweatshirt. According to Scamahorn, the prosecutor wanted her to say that David Camm's DNA was also on the garment. When she refused, Faith threatened to charge her with obstruction of justice. He had also yelled and swore at her. In recalling her ordeal, the witness broke down. (Faith later denied these allegations.)

     In February, blood spatter expert Tom Bevel testified for the prosecution. According to his analysis, based on 25 years in the field. the blood on the defendant's t-shirt had been sprayed there by a bullet. Bevel also told the jury that David Camm had to be at the crime scene when his wife was shot because her blood had dropped onto one of his sneakers. The witness said that he believed the defendant was within four feet of his daughter when she was shot.

     The next day, prosecution blood spatter expert Rod Englert (Stites's mentor from Portland, Oregon), testified that the defendant must have been standing next to his wife, and just a few feet away from his daughter, when the two were shot. Englert added that the bloodstain on Camm's shoe appeared to have been diluted with water. Microscopist William Chapin, an employee of McCrone Laboratories, took the stand and confirmed the prosecution theory that the defendant was a few feet from his daughter, and right next to his wife, when they were shot. According to Chapin, he had seen traces of the victim's tissue on the defendant's t-shirt.

     The defense put two of its own blood spatter experts on the stand. Paul Kish and Bart Epstein testified that the blood on Camm's t-shirt had gotten there by transfer when he hugged the victims. Paul Kish said he couldn't render an opinion on how the blood stain had gotten on the defendant's shoe.

     On March 3, 2006, following 45 hours of deliberation, the Camm jury found the defendant guilty of murdering his family. The judge later sentenced Camm to life in prison. Following the verdict, F. Thomas Schomhorst, a law professor emeritus at Indiana University, questioned the prosecutor's claim, without supporting evidence, that the defendant had sexually molested his daughter.

     The Indiana Supreme Court, on June 26, 2009, overturned Camm's 2006 conviction. A third trial was scheduled for June 2010. Shortly after the second conviction, prosecutor Keith Henderson signed a publishing deal for a book called, Sacred Trust: Deadly Betrayal. The nonfiction book about the Camm case, would actually be written by Damon DiMarco. The Camm defense, on the grounds the prosecutor's book deal created a conflict of interest, petitioned the court for a special prosecutor. In November 2011, the Indiana Court of Appeals granted the request. This ruling delayed the start of David Camm's third trial.

     In February 2012, the Indiana Supreme Court decided not to hear the state's appeal of the appellate court ruling. Prosecutor Keith Henderson was therefore off the case. Convicting David Camm of murder became the job of special prosecutor Stan Levco.

     On August 22, 2013, the third Camm trial got underway in Lebanon, Indiana. Once again blood spatter analyst Tom Bevel testified that the crime scene bloodstain patterns proved that the defendant was in the garage when his wife and children were shot to death.

     Charles Boney, the man convicted in the case, took the stand and repeated his story that he provided the gun David Camm used to kill his family. Boney said he had no physical contact with any of the victims.

     To counter the prosecution's blood spatter case, defense analyst Barrie Goetz took the stand. Goetz had worked for the Indiana State Police from 1978 to 1981. From 1981 to 2004, he conducted blood spatter examinations for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. According to Goetz, the blood on the defendant's shoe had been caused by a bloody shoelace hitting the side of the shoe when he ran. The pattern was not, in this witness' opinion, a "projected stain." Goetz said that, unlike his prosecution counterparts, he had used real human blood in his recreations.

     On cross-examination, prosecutor Levco asked this forensic witness why he hadn't videotaped his blood pattern experiments.

     On October 3, two defense witnesses testified that when the Camm murders took place, they were playing basketball with the defendant.

     Dr. Robert Shaler, a forensic anthropologist known for his work identifying bodies after the World Trade Center terrorist attack, testified that blood spatter analysis was not a true science. The interpretation of blood stain patterns had not been subjected to scientific peer review. Moreover, no data had been collected regarding error rates. "Either blood pattern analysis is based on science or it's an art form," Dr. Shaler said. "If it's an art form, then anyone can come up with opinions on it."

     On October 9, Dr. Richard Eikeienboom, a Dutch DNA analyst, took the stand for the defense. According to Dr. Eikeienboom, DNA evidence proved that Charles Boney had physical contact with Kim and Jill Camm. That meant Charles Boney had lied when he testified he had not touched the victims. The defense attorney put Dr. Eikeienboom on the stand to discredit the prosecution's star witness.

     On Eikeienboom's cross-examination, prosecutor Levco brought out the fact the witness' Netherlands based firm, Independent Forensic Services, was not accredited in the United States.

      On Thursday, October 24, 2013, after thirty-one days of testimony, the jury of eight women and four men found David Camm not guilty. The defendant's thirteen-year criminal justice ordeal, involving three murder trials, had finally come to an end. The state of Indiana had spent millions of dollars in a failed attempt to acquire a murder conviction in an obviously flawed case.

     Sometimes prosecutors just don't know when to quit. Moreover, the David Camm case, featuring dueling experts in blood spatter interpretation, is an embarrassment to forensic science. Blood spatter analysis, while perhaps an investigative tool, is not a science and shouldn't be presented as such in a court of law.

      

33 comments:

  1. I'm glad that I do not live in Indiana, I feel that the judicial system there is bias and unjust to say the least. Blood splatter would leave a hell of lot more spots than 8 if truely it was blood splatter. at that speed and velocity come on people I'm not an expert, that is just common sense. And when Charles Boney a convicted rapist and armed robber DNA shows up years later.... hook line and sinker people. abrasions on moms knees elbows and feet, sexual assault, a high profiled case with news media charles had time to worked up a good defence for himself. And the jury bought it. I feel this case needs to be moved out of the state and into one far away in order for David Camm to be tried for the third time fairly. I also feel that twice convicted and overturned should have been enough. I do not believe based on the evidence that this man did it. I also read a book on the case and it sounds to me like he was considered guilty by the jurors long before all the evidence was given based on his infidelity as a husband, with no violence in their marriage I truely do not believe he would have murdered his children let alone his wife. I truely believe Charles Boney did it alone, where is the gun? 12 minutes does not give you much time to get rid of it. Charles boney knows where it is because he did it. not David Camm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "hook line and sinker..." I feel the same about not living in Indiana, particularly Floyd County. Not because of the people, but because of a few specific people in important places. Nice post; science agrees with you.

      It's great when "common" sense (not common in southern IN, at least in this instance) and science agree. Violent sex offender + escalating history + fetish match? Should have been a slam dunk from day one, but Floyd County has some issues (the prosecutors).

      Where science vehemently disagrees with common people? People think that having affairs = capable of murdering your family. Simply not the case - as sad as it is, a huge percentage of the population cheats (the figure, as I recall, was ~30%). Thus, alleging affairs as they did in Trial 1 should not have been allowed, and it should not have mattered to the jurors.

      Trial 2: They tossed in allegations of molestation at the end. You know what the research literature clearly shows do NOT go together in the same person? Attraction to opposite-sex adults and pedophilia. They don't. Evidence of one is direct evidence against the other. Also? Still not relevant to guilt. That jury foreman...I can totally understand being disgusted at the idea of molestation. However, it was not even a CHARGE, let alone a likely occurrence. Second, his job was to help determine guild/innocence based on evidence. The man failed miserably...though the greater blame goes, again, on the corrupt (or, POSSIBLY, really, really stupid) prosecution.

      Delete
    2. why would a random guy gun down a family of 3? Camm bought the weapon from Boney, who wrapped the gun in his sweatshirt (not the brightest move). Camm knew what time his family would get home, gunned them down and returned to the basketball game. Boney has no motive - Camm has multiple girlfriends and a $600,000 insurance policy.

      Delete
    3. If Camm had deliberately brought Boney to his home for the purpose of setting him up for his family's murders, then why didn't he ever give him up as a suspect?

      Delete
    4. Perhaps Camm knew that Boney's testimony would be more believable than his own.

      Delete
  2. I believe both Camm and Boney are guilty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Personally feel Boney provided the gun but Camm done the shooting. Sad regardless for all family and victims involved.

      Delete
    2. Agree about the sadness - worse that the community is divided over it when they should be able to grieve together.

      I am not aware of any evidence linking the two besides Boney's testimony, which frequently changed and contradicted itself. I do not see how anyone with any relevant scientific training could conclude that there was noteworthy evidence of Camm's involvement. Although we have not heard from the jury, apparently the defense presented the case thoroughly and comprehensible enough for the jurors to come to the same conclusion.

      Delete
  3. What is the state of this case now?

    ReplyDelete
  4. In Indiana there is no way to tell guilt or innocence because the entire justice system from top to bottom is completely corrupt. I hired kammen, Camm's defense atty for the 3rd trial, to represent me in a domestic violence case. After waiting 15 mos for trial, he didn't show up without informing me. judge carlisle didn't care and I was convicted and sentenced to 1 year. The court of appeals said that carlisle, a victim of domestic battery, had discretion to deny a defendant his atty at trial.

    ReplyDelete
  5. His attorneys name is Stacy Ulliana. There was absolutely no proof whatsoever that Jill Camm was ever molested. Only speculation. That is why no charges was filed against David of that crime. Rob Stites was actually a crime scene photographer with zero background in blood pattern analysis and perjured himself on the stand. There was ZERO proof that Camm had ever met Boney and that is why the judge threw that charge out.
    Had the prosecutor in the case not attempted to play crime scene investigator and lose evidence such as a bloody shower curtain and used condoms, and ran the DNA from Boney through CODIS David Camm would have never been charged.
    Floyd County is a joke!

    ReplyDelete
  6. After watching this program... I am convinced that Boney is the one who killed this family. He is very cocky and seems like a true butthole... I mean to not know what the person had on if you say he was there and yet he was suppose to be apart of it...Interesting Kim's family still believes he did it... Praying for them all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. All you people that think camms guilty are just plain and simply ignorant. There's no sense arguing the facts of the case because all a person needs is common sense which apparently a lot of people just don't have. The evidence speaks for itself and proves innocence. Come on people use your brains and not your emotions.

    ReplyDelete
  8. They both Guilty. Only a cop who knows a criminals past could frame a them using the criminal's M.O. Only thing is it didnt work out that way at first. Camm sat in jail for a well deserved 13yrs n Boney gotta serve time now but because he is black he gone serve the entire sentence..justice system is just a system. Theres no Justice hardly ever

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please spare me the race card on this case! Boney was a know Felon that spent years off and on in jail for more than one criminal act. Was he framed all those times because he was black? He tried to tell the best story to cover everything he knew the cops had on him but got caught in his own lies for the things he did not know they had on him or would find. His own story claimed that this entire event started at 7 p.m. and would have had to end by 7:05 p.m tops for him to have made it to the gym by 7:10 at latest. Many people at the gym claim he arrived just minutes after 7 p.m. How would all this be possible?????? Boney did not know exactly when the time frame began at the gym according to the witness accounts. Also, the wife was seen picking her son up at swim practice at 7 p.m. and it would have taking her 5 minutes at the least to get home making it 7:05 p.m when she pulled in before anything at all happened. Impossible, never happened the way he claims in that short few minutes. Sorry people too many details not enough time frame as Boney claimed. All this was in the court testimony once it was determined that she was killed once she got home from picking up the child sometime after 7 when her husband was with 12-15 people playing basketball. And that is just 1 thing in the many other lies proven against him with testimony that came out of his own mouth. I guess every one tried to frame him? He is exactly where he belongs for what he did no doubts at all! DNA does not lie that many times proven against him. I will give him an A plus for effort though!

      Delete
    2. You are plain retarded. This has nothing to do with racism. Just because a black person is in jail, it's racist. Go back to school and get educated. The man did it to himself.

      Delete
  9. What? Attraction to opposite sex adults and pedophilia do not go hand and hand? Really? How many little girls have been molested by a father or grandfather. The daughter was molested....very likely by close personal relation. If it was Boney alone...he would have had to shoot mom, son, pulled daughter from truck, assault her, put her back in truck, then shoot her. Not likely. And let's say he had a vendetta for cops... how would he know camm was a retired cop unless they had some interaction?I could understand if he wasn't retired? Camm denies ever even talking to him. Also on dateline, when he spoke about the not guilty verdict he said that 13 years of his life were wasted but he got justice. If he was truly innocent he wouldnt have focused on the fact that his life was wasted and he followed up by saying his family got justice but he constantly looks to the side and cannot maintain eye contact as he says that. Also you cannot get blood spatter from hugging a victim. A big stain maybe, by splatter itself only comes from a moment of impact, just simple physics. Those little droplets could only come from a hug if they matched the reverse image on the victim. Not defending Boney...he is a piece of crap...but I think the maternal grandfather said it best. Neither one of them is telling the truth. That being said there was simply not enough hard evidence to prove Camm did it. The touch DNA is the only thing you could argue is concrete enough to convict Boney and I think that is pretty suspect since it can be transferred fro person to person to person. The only solace in all this is that boney and camm will reap what they sow whether in this life or the next

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sad, but true.

      They're both guilty.

      Delete
    2. I agree with this blog the most of any! Also in first 48 hours it seems Camm talking to Schlesinger is too confident in the fact that a sweat shirt exists with DNA. It is said as though Camm is just waiting on test to prove DNA of Boney is present? But Camm not supposed to know anything about another suspect? In that interview it sure seems like Camm knows something? The other question is how did Boney end up in southerm Indiana on Lockhart Road? At the Camm house? Boney told his girlfriend at the time he as going to help a friend. The gf's DNA was also on the sweatshirt. With all that said you'll never see me in Floyd County! I blame Stan Faith for the truth not getting told yet! Can you imagine if Boney DNA test on sweatshirt would have been done from start? Maybe Boney would have had reason to have to tell the whole truth instead of lying numerous times. One thing for sure is Boney is exactly where he belongs!

      Delete
  10. Glad they freed Camm. Routier fans shouldn't get all excited, as Darlie isn't getting out. She murdered Devon & Damon and does deserve to die for it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hes a Child molester

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can someone explain why an African-American man would be making an untraceable gun deal with David Camm in his rural white neighborhood at 7:00 pm, shortly before Camm went into his garage and shot his wife in the head once, his daughter in the head twice, and his son in the chest?

    Can someone explain why Jill Camm’s high velocity spattered blood was on her father’s T-shirt?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And why he went to the basketball game with wet blood on his shirt
      Seems to me he should have changed his shirt at least

      Delete
    2. Maybe after Boney chased Camm back into the house he grabbed another shirt to put over the T-shirt. That may be why he was determined to get some things from his house the next day and attacked his supervisor.

      Delete
  13. Camm lied to the police about his affairs. In any police investigation
    it's best to tell the truth. No family no alimony, free as a bird. Also his home is only 5 min away, easy enough to slip out of the gym and slip back in when you aren't on the court.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Boney testified to his story, under oath and before a jury. David Camm has never testified. He tells his story only to print and TV reporters who relay his every lie to the public. Shame on them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. They're both scum. With camm deserving more of the blame because he initiated all of this. David Camm is a lying murderer!! Boney just happened to be in the neighborhood just as his wife arrived home right? Possible, but to then go and murder his wife and children for sport? How did boney know there wasn't an armed individual in that vehicle? Thanks America for letting a lying murderer walk free!! You fu$$ING idiots!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly!! This was a conspiracy....anyone with an oince of common sense can clearly see that.

      Delete
    2. Two days after the murders David Camm made phone calls to two major investigators. One was to Lt. James Biddle, the other to his friend, Sgt. Technician Sam Sarkisian, investigator in the case: Camm seemed emotional and frustrated. (While reading these eight pages (11-18, in my book "The State Trooper, Ex-Convict, and Murder), keep in mind that Camm is talking to the police investigators who are investigating the murder case in which he is the primary suject. Critical thinking will show that comments in italics are as close to confessions as Camm gets.)
      Why would an innocent “person under suspicion” badger busy investigators for information about his possible involvement in the crime? If innocent, he would not care what information they may, or may not have. David Camm showed guilt by his own actions and words after the killings; some of the evidence not allowed in the third trial.
      David Camm did not have to leave his basketball friends because Camm had set 7:00 pm as the time Boney would stop by and his wife would be due to return home with the kids. Those 10 or 15 minutes was time enough to do the deed and reach the church gym in time for an alibi.

      Delete
    3. So camm went to the baketball game with blood splatter on his shirt
      Seems a bit odd to me

      Delete