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Supreme Court orders third murder trial

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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."

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  1. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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