By GORDON BOYD
LEBANON, Ind. —
For all but the final phase, they’ll be able to go home and sleep in their own beds every night. But 19 residents of Boone County — 12 women and seven men — will be putting their lives on hold for the next six to 10 weeks for only $40 per day and reimbursement for their mileage to drive to the courthouse.
When it’s time to render judgment, seven of them, the alternates, won’t have a counting vote as to whether former Indiana state trooper David Camm is guilty of murdering his wife and their two young children in a town roughly 150 miles away almost 13 years ago.
They know that two previous juries found Camm guilty and both convictions were overturned on appeal. They know that another man, Charles Boney, has been convicted of the murders and is serving a life sentence. Boney has been called to testify in Camm’s third trial.
“We told them about it during selection,” Defense Attorney Richard Kammen said Tuesday. “Some of them had heard about it or remembered it, and if you don’t bring it up, they’ll try to fill in the blanks.”
This jury likely will contend with more ‘blanks’ than the two preceding panels. Special Prosecutor Stan Levco concedes that the grounds for setting aside Camm’s two prior convictions make it difficult to offer a motive.
“We’re not required to prove motive,” Levco told a group of prospective jurors Tuesday. “But could you still find him guilty if we could show proof beyond a reasonable doubt?”
Some prospective jurors indicated they can’t define ‘reasonable doubt’ specifically, but they know it when they see it. Others saw no difference between ‘reasonable’ and ‘beyond the shadow of a doubt.’
“I don’t have any unreasonable doubts,” prospective juror No. 259. She was excused.
So were several who expressed ‘nagging doubts’ as to why Camm’s two prior convictions were thrown out.
“Two convictions probably should have settled it,” prospective juror No. 269 told the court Tuesday. “It [the reasons for reversal] couldn’t have been anything major.”
A telecom representative, he also offered that a prolonged trial could make it tough to serve his customers. He was excused from service.
“I’m afraid they’re thinking it’s David’s fault that those verdicts were thrown out,” Camm’s attorney, Richard Kammen, told reporters after jury selection wrapped up Tuesday afternoon. “Maybe they won’t look as it as ‘those trials were unfair’ but that it’s unfair that we’re back again.”
Jurors will have to weigh which ‘experts’ to believe, as well. Special Judge Jon Dartt has ruled that the defense may present evidence yielded through ‘touch DNA’, a technology unavailable during Camm’s previous trials. Prosecutors maintain that ‘touch DNA’ is unproven and unreliable. Kammen claims it could exonerate his client.
“He [Camm] has said he’s innocent all along,” Kammen told the court Tuesday. “He did not do this.”
Prosecutors acknowledge that some prospective jurors likely weighed the history, the debate over new evidence, and the time commitment involved, and decided to make statements likely to get them excused from serving.
“That always comes up,” Levco told reporters Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s happening much though. I think jurors are pretty forthcoming.”
Levco said the length and breadth of the trial also makes it likely that ‘at least one’ of the four women and three men serving as alternates would be called to replace one of the jurors.
Judge Dartt told prospective jurors that alternates could discuss the case with jury members throughout the trial, provided they’re together as a group, in the jury room. They would be excused prior to deliberations.
Camm resigned from the Indiana State Police months before the trial.
Camm’s trial is set to begin at 8:30 this morning.
— This article was produced as a partnership between the News and Tribune and WAVE 3 News.