By MAUREEN HAYDEN
CNHI Statehouse Bureau
Thirteen years may have dimmed some of the details surrounding the murders of Kimberly Camm and her two young children, but the impact of the brutal crime — and the shocking arrest of her husband on charges he killed his family — still reverberate.
Evidence of that was on display Wednesday in the Boone County courtroom where the third murder trial of former state trooper David Camm is underway. Friends and relatives of both the suspect and the victims openly wept during testimony about the night of the murders and the discovery of the bodies of the 34-year-old mother, her 7-year-old son Bradley, and 5-year-old daughter Jill, in the garage of their family home in rural Floyd County.
“It never goes away. It never goes away,” is how Nelson Lockhart, the uncle of David Camm, responded to a question from defense attorney Richard Kammen about the vivid memory of that night.
Camm, who resigned from the Indiana State Police four months before the murders, has contended that he was playing basketball with friends and relatives at a nearby church gym on Sept. 28, 2000, when his family was killed. Prosecutors believe Camm slipped out of the gym while the others weren’t watching, went home and killed his wife and children, then returned to the gym unnoticed.
Kammen took Lockhart, a retired Louisville police officer, through a moment-by-moment account of how he’d arrived at the Camm family home on the evening of the murders.
Lockhart had been next door, at his 92-year-old father’s house, when he heard Camm banging on the door and screaming: “Nelson, Nelson. Come quick. Somebody’s killed my kids.”
Lockhart saw Camm turn around and run back to the family’s garage. Lockhart followed, and what he saw stunned him: Kimberly Camm was laying on the floor of the garage, bleeding profusely from a fatal gunshot wound, while David Camm was hunched over his son, who was also shot, trying to revive him with CPR. Jill was inside her mother’s Chevrolet Blazer, also dead as Lockhart would discover.
Lockhart recounted climbing into the vehicle to get to Jill and touching her skin, only to find it cold and clammy.
“Buddy, I think they’re gone,” is what Lockhart remembers telling Camm.
Lockhart lost his composure at several times during the testimony. As he reached for a tissue to wipe his eyes, family members of both Kim and David Camm also wept.
The trial — moved to Boone County to find a jury untainted by the exhaustive media coverage of the case over the last 13 years — started seven weeks ago with jury selection.
But for the extended Camm family, the ordeal has been going on much longer.
David Camm has twice been convicted of the crime, but both convictions were overturned on appeal. The Indiana Supreme Court ordered a third trial in June.
Other witnesses who testified Wednesday conveyed the toll the crime has taken on the families and the small community of Georgetown, where the Camms lived.
Tom Jolly, a friend of David Camm’s who testified he’d played basketball with Camm on the night of the murders, described the idyllic neighborhood where he and the Camms resided.
“It was the kind of neighborhood where we didn’t lock the doors — not till this happened,” Jolly said.
Later in his testimony, Jolly said he was certain that Camm had never left the church gym that night.
“This ordeal has had such an impact on my family, and so many other families, I’ll never forget it,” he said.
Also testifying Wednesday was Debbie TreVree, David Camm’s aunt, who also lived near the Camm home. Called by the defense, she’s been a sharp critic of how the Indiana State Police handled the murder investigation.
On the witness stand, she denied telling police that she heard gunshots on the night of the killings, as is portrayed in the original probable-cause affidavit used to arrest Camm.
She, too, openly wept while describing the events of the night of the killings.
“I loved her dearly,” is how she described her relationship with Kim Camm. “She was a mommy and I was mommy. We talked about our kids. I loved her.”
— Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org