Fathers Who Kill
Evidence vs. Alibi
It was late in September 2000 when Kim Camm and her two children, Jill, 5, and Brad, 7, were shot to death in their home in New Albany, Indiana. They had just come in from a swim class, some time after 7 p.m. The two females were shot in the head, the boy in the chest. It was husband and father David Camm who found them when he returned from a basketball game with friends. He was a former Indiana State Trooper and knew how to avoid disturbing the scene. He also had friends to call.
The entire case was played out in a day-by-day report from Abby Miller for The Louisville Channel. Local papers also picked it up, and 48 Hours produced an episode of it.
Three days after he reported his family's slaughter, Camm was arrested for the triple homicide. He protested that he did not do it. In fact, he pointed out, at the estimated time of the murders he was with 10 other men playing basketball. Each of them corroborated that, as did his uncle, who attended the game.
And, in fact, this case was all about time, in some unusual ways.
Camm had never shown a violent side during his 11-year marriage to Kim. Everyone, including his in-laws, had positive things to say about him. He was upstanding, loyal, helpful, responsible. Mostly.
He did have an affair in 1992 and left his wife. They later reconciled and got back together. But that was not the end of his dalliances or propositions. Prosecutor Stan Faith presented these incidents as a potential motive for wanting to be rid of his family—to be free to be with other women. In addition to that, Camm stood to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars on insurance policies that he had taken out on his family—one of them only two months before the murders. Faith also had some physical evidence: a phone call, DNA, and some accusatory blood drops.
Camm claimed that he had already left for the basketball game before his wife and kids got home, and he was there until 9:15, arriving home around 9:22, when he saw his wife in a pool of blood and immediately made a 911 call to the state police, his friends. He said, "Get everyone out here." That was at 9:30.
They arrived quickly and Camm told them that he had found his son strapped into the car in the garage and had tried to revive him before he realized the entire family was dead. But there was nothing at the scene to indicate that Camm had indeed been near his son. The scene also appeared to be too "neat," one technician testified later, with evidence of clean-up. The investigation commenced immediately and all leads apparently pointed to Camm.
The trial began in January 2002. The prosecution had some 80 witnesses to put on the stand, including numerous forensic experts.
Initially, the time of death was believed to have been just before Camm made that call, after the game, within a seven-minute timeframe.
Then there was the allegation of sexual abuse on the daughter from evidence found at autopsy. She had been molested within hours of her death. DNA evidence taken from sheets in the house indicated that Camm's semen was found near what appeared to be either vaginal secretions or saliva from Jill.
However, Camm claimed he had not seen her since very early that morning, some 13 hours before.
In addition, the way the blood had coagulated and the appearance of the wounds indicated that it had occurred several hours earlier—while Camm was in the game.
That became less of an issue when Faith found a record of a phone call made from the Camm residence at 7:19 to one of Camm's business associates.
Yet the witnesses claim that the game had started by 7:15 and Camm was there. So either they were wrong, the prosecution stated, or lying.
It seemed that defense attorney Michael McDaniel was backed into a corner. His alibi witnesses were a problem rather than an asset.
Hard facts can be difficult to dispute, but McDaniel was apparently not one to just accept that. He wanted to know more about those phone records. His checking paid off in a major surprise for the court. The phone company had made an error, based on an odd situation in Indiana. Indiana has two different time zones. Camm lived in one but his cell phone company based their computers in the other one. While Camm had actually made the call at 6:19, the company had recorded it on their own time zone as 7:19. If Camm made the call at 6:19, his family was away and, based on the eyewitnesses, he got to the game before his path crossed with theirs. His uncle, who was at the game, said that there was no time frame in which he was away from the game. So he could not have killed them.
Yet Faith also had blood evidence, and he called in a blood spatter pattern expert, Rod Englert, to testify to what it meant. There were eight droplets of blood identified as Jill's on Camm's T-shirt, which Englert said were the result of high velocity blood spray such as one might get from standing in the vicinity of a bullet hitting a person. Englert estimated that Camm would had to have been within four feet at the time of the shooting incident. He also found blood on Camm's shoe—Kim's blood ---that looked like a similar mist pattern. While it was smudged, it was consistent with spray from a bullet's encounter with a person. A fragment of flesh was also lodged into the weave of the T-shirt (though it was not tested for DNA). A small amount of gunshot residue was found on Camm's shorts and socks. In addition, a gray sweatshirt found underneath Bradley bore fibers consistent with fibers found in the master bedroom of the Camm residence. In addition, Camm owned a .380 handgun, the type of weapon used to kill the victims.
As convincing as that might have been, the defense's blood pattern expert denied that the drops on Camm's shirt were from high-velocity spray and said they could as easily have gotten onto Camm's clothing as he moved around the murder scene. (Yet he never mentioned that he had been near Jill, whose DNA matched it, only Bradley—and there was no blood from Bradley on his clothing.) Also, there was DNA evidence from an unknown source on the gray sweatshirt, which the defense used to support the theory that an intruder had gone into the home to kill the family. With the eleven witnesses and the lack of time when Camm could have been with his family during the hours when time of death was estimated to have occurred, it seemed clear that he was innocent.
But after three days, the jury found him guilty. According to the interviews done by the 48 Hours crew that produced a show based on the case, some jurors apparently believed that he had been molesting his daughter. Camm was sentenced to 195 years in prison, with no chance of parole.
Staging a multiple murder has its risks, but faking mental illness to try to elude justice in a different manner does as well. Among the reasons people try it is that a diagnosis of mental illness is based on opinion and interpretation, and it can be difficult to prove someone's actual state of mind at the time of the offense. While one mental health professional may testify that a man is faking his illness, another may be just as certain that he is not. Then it comes down to what a jury thinks. The following three cases illustrate this difficulty in different ways.