State justices have overturned the murder convictions and ordered a third trial for a former state trooper accused of killing his wife and two young children in Southern Indiana almost a decade ago.
In a 4-1 decision today in David R. Camm v. State of Indiana, No. 87S00-0612-CR-499, a majority of justices found two reversible errors by the Warrick Superior judge who handled the murder retrial in 2006, in that he allowed the prosecution to use speculative evidence and out-of-court statements in proving its case. But finding sufficient evidence to support the three murder convictions, the justices have ordered a new trial in the high-profile case dating back to 2000.
The case involves the shooting deaths of David Camm's wife and their two children, ages 5 and 7, in their Georgetown home. Camm was first charged and convicted of murder by a Floyd Circuit Court jury in 2002, but the state's intermediate appellate court in 2004 overturned those convictions on grounds that the case was prejudiced by prosecutorial evidence regarding Camm's character. On retrial, the case was transferred to Warrick Superior Court and Camm was convicted three years ago and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In its decision today, justices determined that Warrick Superior Judge Robert Aylsworth shouldn't have allowed prosecutors to raise the prospect that Camm had molested his young daughter, since no evidence was presented to connect the father to the molestation. Justices also took issue with the trial judge's allowance of statements that the defendant's wife had made to a friend regarding the time she expected Camm to be home on the night of the murders.
The court also addressed several other issues that may come up in another retrial, such as statements by a co-conspirator who's since been convicted; opinion testimony about bloodstain patterns at the murder scene; and a courtroom demonstration by a state expert witness.
Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard was the lone dissenter in this case, saying the majority hasn't considered the full scope of the "mountainous" evidence in this case and the appellate courts have too quickly glossed over his confessions of guilt and how 24 jurors have all credited the testimony and found him guilty.
"The system of justice seeks to provide a fair trial, but there is no entitlement to a perfect trial," he wrote. "I think the two reversals entered by the appellate courts in this case have unnecessarily sanitized the evidence against David Camm."