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COA orders special prosecutor in Camm trial

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The county prosecutor who signed and later cancelled a book deal about his involvement in the murder trial of David Camm will not be allowed to serve as prosecutor at Camm’s third trial.

The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Tuesday that because Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson signed a contract to co-author and publish a book about Camm’s case prior to his third retrial, Henderson permanently compromised his ability to advocate on behalf of the people of Indiana in the third trial.

The issue came before the appellate court on interlocutory appeal in David R. Camm v. State of Indiana, No. 87A01-1102-CR-25. Camm has twice been convicted of killing his wife and two young children, but both times his convictions were overturned on appeal. Henderson signed an agreement to publish a book about the Camm case before Camm was sentenced to life without parole at his second trial in 2006; that conviction was overturned and Henderson decided to end his contract with the publisher because there was going to be a third trial. He cancelled the contract in September 2009 and does not have a current agreement to write a book about the case, but he has made comments indicating that he is committed to writing the book when able.

Henderson refiled murder charges against Camm on Dec. 1, 2009; that same day, Camm’s attorney filed for appointment of a special prosecutor. The trial court denied the petition in January 2011, in part because Henderson no longer had an active book deal.

“As a result of having signed the literary contract, Henderson has provided Camm with a defense strategy that he would not otherwise have,” wrote Judge John Baker. “Camm may now contend that Henderson’s literary contract, albeit cancelled, and his commitment to write a book influenced his decision to prosecute Camm for a third time. Henderson has made himself an issue at trial, and thus cannot continue to serve as prosecutor in this case.”

Henderson can’t be both committed to writing a book about the Camm case and serve as prosecutor because it creates a conflict of interest between his personal and professional interests. This conflict will undercut Henderson’s ability to represent the people of Indiana’s interests in a just and fair way, wrote Baker.
 

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