Indiana News

Camm Judge Rejects Mistrial Request

2/19/2006

(BOONVILLE, Ind.) -- The judge overseeing a former state trooper's retrial on triple-murder charges refused to declare a mistrial sought by defense attorneys upset that prosecutors brought up testimony from the man's first trial.

David Camm's attorneys asked for a mistrial Friday after Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson cited testimony from David Camm's first trial to undermine the credibility of defense bloodstain expert Barton Epstein.

Henderson asked Epstein why his testimony now disagreed with testimony his partner, Terry Laber, gave during Camm's first trial.

Before the jury returned from Friday's lunch break, Camm attorney Katherine Liell asked Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth to declare a mistrial, saying it was unfair to ask Epstein to comment on his partner's testimony in a different trial.

She argued that Henderson's questions will mislead and confuse the jury.

Aylsworth rejected the motion. The judge had said earlier he would allow the prosecutor's questions because Epstein had testified that he and Laber worked together on their report for Camm's first trial.

Camm, who resigned from the state police about four months before the September 2000 killings, was convicted in 2002 of murdering his wife, Kimberly, 35, and their children Bradley, 7, and Jill, 5, in the garage of their Georgetown-area home. The Indiana Court of Appeals threw out the convictions in 2004.

Camm, 41, was charged again and his retrial began Jan. 14 in Warrick County, where it was moved because of intense publicity in Floyd, where the crimes occurred.

During Friday's testimony, Henderson questioned Epstein about Laber's statement that a blood stain on Camm's tennis shoe could have been caused by blood projected from the body of Camm's wife when she was shot.

But Epstein said he believed the stain on the shoe happened as Camm's shoe touched blood when Camm found his slain family.

Henderson asked Epstein if the bloodstain should be important to the jury.

"Yes, very important," Epstein said, adding that it could determine the trial's outcome.

Henderson then asked Epstein why he and Laber didn't write about the bloodstain in their report for Camm's first trial. Epstein said the stain didn't emerge as an issue until the trial itself. He also said he couldn't speak for Laber.

Henderson also questioned Epstein about eight tiny bloodstains on Camm's T-shirt _ stains prosecution experts say prove that Camm was within 4 feet of her when she was fatally shot.

Epstein said several times Friday and Thursday he believes the stains were caused by Camm's T-shirt touching Jill's blood, probably on her hair.

"If the defendant said he did not touch his daughter, would you be wrong?" Henderson asked Epstein, referring to Camm's statement that he didn't touch his daughter at the crime scene.

Epstein responded with a "no," saying Camm touched his daughter but did not realize it.

Information from: The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., http://www.courier-journal.com

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