News and Tribune

September 12, 2013

Former inmate: Camm confessed to murders while getting tattoo

Trial to resume on Tuesday

By GORDON BOYD
newsroom@newsandtribune.com

LEBANON — A convicted-but-probated murderer claims David Camm confessed to killing his wife and two young children over issues in his marriage, but regretted than his 7-year-old son had to suffer.

“He [Camm] said they were fighting a lot about the kids,” Jeremy Bullock told jurors hearing Camm’s third murder trial Thursday.

“He was upset about his son, but really didn’t care much about his daughter.”

Bullock claimed Camm admitted the killings in 2002, when both were ‘protective-custody’ inmates in the maximum-security Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. The revelations came in a series of conversations spread over three weeks after Camm had commissioned him for a new tattoo, Bullock said.

Indiana’s Department of Corrections considers tattooing an illegal activity, Bullock explained, so he worked on Camm in secret to avoid detection.

Camm has maintained that he was playing basketball at his church, about four miles from his home, when his family was murdered. But Bullock told the jury that Camm confided that those weekly games created what he thought would be a perfect alibi for September 28, 2000.

“He would go to the basketball game, make an impression by playing the first couple of games, then leave [to shoot his wife and children], and come back,” Bullock testified.

“He said he used a hammerless gun, a clean gun that wasn’t registered to him.”

Ballistics analysts have testified that the bullets recovered show that Camm’s wife Kimberly, son Bradley, and 5-year-old daughter Jill were shot with a .380 semi-automatic “hammerless” pistol. The weapon has never been recovered.

“He [Camm] told me that a sewer is a good place to get rid of a weapon, “ Bullock told jurors. “But he didn’t tell me he got rid of it that way.”

Bullock has been out of prison since last year, after serving 17 years of a 40-year sentence. Indiana law required he serve at least half his time, but prosecutors agreed to recommend reducing his sentence, after Bullock testified in Camm’s second trial in 2006.

“That’s not why I did it [came forward], Bullock said. “I don’t want none of my credibility to be questioned.

But Camm’s attorneys maintain that Bullock is little more than a polished liar who saw Camm’ s predicament as a chance for freedom, or transfer to a safer facility after being beaten and stabbed.

 “You told inmates, ‘[expletive] that cop’, I’m going home,” defense counsel Richard Kammen said. “Didn’t you say, I’m makin’ this up, I’m gonna say what I have to say to go home?

“That’s totally ridiculous,” Bullock replied.

Bullock did not clarify whether he heard Camm’s admission before he, Camm and other inmates had viewed a segment on CBS-TV’s “48 Hours” that detailed the evidence leading to Camm’s arrest, his alibi, and his convictions. The segment aired in 2002.

Bullock did not explain why he waited to go to authorities only after an appellate court overturned Camm’s conviction in August 2004.

“You didn’t want any favors?” Kammen asked.

“Still don’t,” Bullock replied.

But two weeks after Bullock testified for Camm’s second trial, he was transferred to the Indiana State Farm, a medium-security facility in Putnam County, about an hour’s drive from his family home. And in 2009, a new attorney began petitioning the prosecutor in Johnson County, where Bullock’s crime occurred, to recommend Bullock’s sentence be reduced.

Bullock told jurors he’s bothered that his testimony in Camm’s second trial is detailed in the documents required for his early release.

“I done what I was supposed to do,” Bullock told jurors.

He confirmed that prosecutors neither offered nor promised him anything to testify in Camm’s third trial. But Kammen reminded Bullock that he faced returning to prison if he violated terms of his probation; implying, but not stating directly, that “one term” is to provide testimony.

Thursday afternoon, jurors heard that tests of Camm’s clothing revealed gunshot residue on one of his socks and in the pocket of his gym shorts.

Particles of lead, lead oxide, copper on Camm’s T-shirt, and brass particles on his T-shirt, shorts and outer jacket could indicate that Camm had loaded a gun or handled bullets, according to Wayne Niemeyer, an Illinois-based chemist and researcher hired to examine the items under an electron microscope.

“I’d never seen that quantity of brass particles [as found in Camm’s shorts],” Niemeyer told jurors. “That was quite a surprise.”

“Is handling a gun the most likely possibility for that,” Special Prosecutor Stan Levco asked.

“The most likely possibility,” Niemeyer confirmed.

Lifting tape recovered only one particle each of gunshot residue on Camm’s shorts and sock.

But Niemeyer testified that prosecutors have a plausible theory: Camm could have shaken off many more particles by returning to church and playing basketball after committing the murders.

The defense offered other explanations: Camm could have picked up the gunshot residue when he removed his son’s body from his wife’s Ford Bronco. Or in the police cruiser that drove him to his first interrogation. Niemeyer agreed that either is possible.

“The two particles did come from a fired gun,” Niemeyer told the jury. “It could be from standing next to somebody else firing the gun.”

Niemeyer first tested Camm’s clothing prior to the first trial, well before DNA testing linked Charles Darnell Boney to the crimes via a sweatshirt found at the scene.

Boney is serving a 225-year sentence after being convicted for the Camm’s murders in 2006. Earlier this week, Boney testified that he sold Camm two “untraceable” pistols, delivering the second to Camm’s home, only to hear Camm use it to murder his family seconds later.

Indiana’s Rules of Evidence and a state Supreme Court ruling have prevented the jury from hearing about Boney’s criminal history. Thursday, Camm’s lawyers lost another bid to change that — arguing that testimony from blood pattern analyst Rod Englert opened the door by asserting that Camm “staged” the murder scene to appear to be a sexual assault.

“The Court is clear on this,” Special Judge Jon Dartt told Camm’s team. “[Boney’s] crimes aren’t that similar to this case.”

Jurors have not heard from the witness they’d expected would testify first Thursday morning; Boney’s former girlfriend, Mala Singh Mattingly. Judge Dartt sent jurors out of the courtroom before they’d had a chance to sit down, after prosecutors recovered a document that the defense team attorney claimed had been lost, withheld or destroyed before Camm’s second trial; a written statement from Mattingly, authored shortly after Boney became a suspect.

Kammen wouldn’t say what the statement revealed when he reviewed it during the jury’s break, but he called it a “bombshell.”

“If we’d known about this, there are questions we would have asked Boney,” Kammen told the Judge. “There is material in there that is exculpatory, [helpful to Camm] but we don’t know what some of it means.”

Mattingly’s testimony could confirm or cast doubt on Boney’s version of events preceding and following the murders. Among the questions; why Boney’s sweatshirt contains some of her blood.

Prosecutors expect Mattingly to testify on Tuesday.

— This article was produced as a partnership between the News and Tribune and WAVE 3 News.