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Special judge rules on venue change in Camm case

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

A southern Indiana judge has decided not to change the venue of a former state trooper’s third murder trial, and instead will bring in jurors from outside the region to consider charges in a case that has twice been overturned on appeal.

In a ruling Friday, Spencer Circuit Judge Jonathan Dartt – who the Indiana Supreme Court appointed earlier this year to serve as special judge on the David Camm case – denied a request to change venues and move the trial outside of southern Indiana. Judge Dartt asked the prosecution and defense to inform the court within 10 days whether they’ll agree for all future hearings and the trial to be held in adjacent Spencer County where he presides, or whether it should remain in Warrick County where the second trial had been moved and held.

Camm was first tried in Floyd County for the September 2000 murders of his wife and two children, ages 5 and 7. His first convictions were overturned and the second trial was moved to Warrick County, and last year the Indiana Supreme Court reversed those convictions. Late last year, Camm’s defense attorneys requested a venue change on the grounds that jurors were too exposed to prejudicial media coverage and couldn’t offer a fair and impartial verdict. Justices removed Judge Robert Aylsworth in July after determining that he’d taken too long to rule on the request, and Judge Dartt was brought on to hear the case.

Though he decided to keep the hearings and trial in the region, Judge Dartt ordered that jurors be chosen from another county. He’s instructed both sides to submit a list of at least five counties they would prefer to see the jury selected from.

“By this Order, it is the Court’s intention that due to the publicity and notoriety this case has received in Southern Indiana, the Court will convene in a county to the north outside of the Louisville and Evansville media markets and select a jury and after the jury is selected for the trial to be held in the county of the Court’s location,” the chronological case summary shows.

Aside from the venue issue on the Camm case, Judge Dartt is also tasked with deciding whether Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson – who’s handled the case from the start – should remain the prosecutor. The defense late last year requested a special prosecutor be appointed, specifically because of an agreement that Henderson had entered into to publish a book about the high-profile case. Henderson has said that no book would happen if the Supreme Court overturned Camm’s conviction, as happened last year, but that didn’t change the defense request. Judge Dartt has scheduled a hearing on the motion for a special prosecutor for Sept. 24.
 

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