By GORDON BOYD
He would enter the Boone County Courthouse Monday shackled, under guard of four Indiana state troopers, facing twice the security detail than any other witness thus far.
Once in court, Charles Boney would lock into a silent test of wills with David Camm; the two glaring at each other from the witness box and the defense table. Boney would break the gaze only while talking.
Since January 2006, Boney has been serving a 225-year sentence for the murdering Camm’s wife and their two young children. But Monday, he told jurors he saw Camm go into the garage of his Georgetown home on September 28, 2000 — and heard Camm fire the shots that killed his family.
“I heard a commotion, I heard a little bit of arguing, then I heard a ‘No,’ then a pop,” Boney testified.
“Then I heard a yell, ‘Daddy!’ That was clearly his son,” Boney testified. “Then I heard a ‘Pop.’ Then I heard a third ‘Pop.’”
Boney said Camm came out of the garage, pointed the gun at him and tried to fire.
“But either it jammed or he ran out of projectiles,” Boney said. Camm then ran back into the garage, and he gave chase, Boney told jurors.
That’s when he tripped on a pair of shoes, later identified as belonging to Camm’s wife Kim, Boney said.
That’s when he saw the bodies.
“I saw Mrs. Camm. I saw a little girl and a little boy, and David Camm said to me ‘You did this,’ and I said ‘what the [expletive],” Boney said.
Boney testified that he had gone to Camm’s house merely to sell him a second ‘untraceable’ handgun that Camm had requested.
“He [Camm] saw me as a patsy,” Boney told jurors. “A set-up.”
Boney claimed that the set-up began shortly after he got out of prison in June 2000, when he was playing against Camm’s team in a pickup basketball game in a New Albany park.
“He [Camm] was bragging about how he’d beaten us, I said I’d just gotten out of prison and was thinking more about freedom than winning or losing,” Boney said.
The two would encounter each other about a month later at a grocery, Boney testified.
“He [Camm] was very curious about Charles Boney,” Boney testified. “What I had done [to land in prison] and whether I could do those things again.”
“He’d ask whether I could get him a handgun that was untraceable.”
Boney said he could. And he did, buying a .380 pistol from a co-worker, and reselling it to Camm in a park that very afternoon, he told the jury. He then followed Camm to his home, where, Boney said, Camm asked him to return, with a second gun, about 7 p.m. on September 28.
Boney complied, he told jurors, handing the weapon to Camm wrapped in a gray sweatshirt. The sweatshirt is the same garment that investigators used to tie Boney to the crimes more than three-and--half years later.
“I didn’t see the sweatshirt in the garage [the night of the murders],” Boney told jurors. “If it was in there with the DNA on the shoes, I would have gotten the sweatshirt.”
Boney testified that he placed Kim Camm’s shoes on the roof of her Ford Bronco after tripping over them. He also claimed she was fully clothed when he observed the crime scene. Investigators found Kim Camm clad only in a dark sweater and dark underwear. Her pants had been removed.
Boney admitted that he’d lied when investigators first questioned him about his sweatshirt, in February 2005, just as prosecutors were preparing to re-charge Camm after an appellate court had thrown out his first conviction.
“I couldn’t remember which sweatshirt it was, so I ‘sugar-coated it’ a little,” Boney said.
He also testified that he’d lied about knowing David Camm, at least at first.
“Because Charles Boney was only thinking about Charles Boney,” he said. “I was scared to go back to prison, when what I was doing was digging my hole deeper and deeper for myself.”
Asked to point out Camm in the courtroom, Boney referenced “the man in the dark suit jacket, blue shirt, and tie. Looking rather dapper.”
Prosecutors questioned Camm for little more than an hour. But jurors would have to wait almost five hours for Camm’s defense team to begin cross-examination.
They’ll not be allowed to hear specifics of Boney’s other crimes; a series of felony robberies, thefts and assaults targeting women. Two of those charges netted him twenty-year sentences.
They will not hear that his crimes in society brought him the nickname ‘the Shoe Bandit.’ Or that his skills as an enforcer and debt collector while in prison earned him the moniker ‘Backbone,’ the name that marked his gray sweatshirt.
Special Judge Jon Dartt refused to cede to defense pleas that he overturn his earlier ruling; in actuality a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court governing Rules of Evidence.
“We’re not going to get into character evidence previously ruled inadmissible,” Judge Dartt announced. The decision came after lead defense counsel Richard Kammen had given Boney a ‘dry run’ of questioning without the jury present. The defense claims prosecutors ‘opened the door’ to reveal Boney’s full criminal past, by having him acknowledge earlier convictions for armed robbery and for the Camm family’s murders.
“When the state claims that [Camm] staged the scene to appear like a sexual assault, and it wasn’t, we need to be able to bring in the prior sex convictions of the defendant [Boney] who was there,” attorney Stacy Uliana told the Court.
“The only reason we’re here is because he [Camm] was denied two fair trials and the state declined to run Charles Boney’s DNA. Boney is trying to say David Camm set him up as a ‘patsy.’ You can’t convict a patsy of murder.”
The defense claims the ruling is grounds for reversible error if Camm is convicted a third time, violating his Constitutional rights under the 5th,6th, 8th and 14th Amendments.
“They want to prosecute Charles Boney for us; he’s already been prosecuted,” state co-counsel Todd Meyer said. “This is merely a smokescreen to try to protect their client.”
The ruling left Camm’s attorneys with one line of questioning: probing “inconsistencies” between what Boney testified to in Camm’s third trial Monday, versus what he told detectives when a DNA screen tied him to the gray sweatshirt after February 2005.
“Your autobiography has described your life as a ‘series of senseless mistakes,’” Kammen told Boney. “But these robberies were not what you considered senseless mistakes.”
“True,” Boney answered.
Boney conceded that he lied to investigators when first confronted with the DNA evidence, adding or changing details only when they had provided ‘intel’ — information that required explanation. He made no mention of selling ‘untraceable’ guns, he said, until detectives themselves raised the issue.
He knew exactly whom to ask when he wanted to know what Camm’s chances were for winning an appeal of his first conviction, or for a retrial; his own attorney, Stan Faith, the former Floyd County Prosecutor who’d made the case against Camm in his first trial.
“You’d probed him for intelligence as to whether you were out of the woods or not,” Kammen asked.
“Yes, sir,” Boney answered.
Boney conceded that no witness has come forward to confirm seeing him with Camm at a basketball game, or at a grocery some weeks later. He also admitted that he had misidentified the type vehicle Camm drove when they first questioned him regarding the sweatshirt.
“And the questioning [from detectives] always was “what’s the connection between you and David Camm, never that you acted alone,” Kammen asked
“Yes, sir, Boney replied.
But later, Boney told jurors, detectives told him that he could be a candidate for the death penalty, given the crimes, his race, his record, and his location; Southern Indiana.
“Be a defendant or be witness,” Kammen explained. “Tell the truth, or face the death penalty.”
Boney agreed with defense assertions that his time in prison had steeled him to be ‘Battle Ready’; frequently carrying loaded guns, and selling firearms, even though possessing them violated terms of his probation.
“Your story to this jury is that when you got out of prison, it was to be a law abiding citizen, and that Mr. Camm set you up,” Kammen said.
“Yes, sir,” Boney replied.
“But the truth is, you weren’t,” Kammen countered.
Camm’s team questioned Boney a little more than two hours before Judge Dartt called “time,” just before 6:30 p.m.
Questioning resumes Tuesday morning.
— This article was produced as a partnership between the News and Tribune and WAVE 3 News.