Camm Trial 9/6: Defense: Blood spatter on Camm's shirt is 'suspe - News, Weather & Sports

Camm Trial 9/6: Defense: Blood spatter on Camm's shirt is 'suspect science'

David Camm being escorted into the Boone County Courthouse on September 6. David Camm being escorted into the Boone County Courthouse on September 6.
Kim, Bradley and Jill Camm (Source: WAVE 3 Archives) Kim, Bradley and Jill Camm (Source: WAVE 3 Archives)

LEBANON, IN (WAVE) - David Camm's attorneys attacked blood-pattern analysis as "suspect and subjective, rather than science" after testimony from a state police specialist all but ruled out Camm's claim that he got droplets of his daughter's blood on his t-shirt by trying to save his son's life.

Wednesday, Indiana State Police Sgt. Dean Marks told jurors that the size, tight grouping, and how deeply the blood penetrated the shirt fabric itself, all indicated that it was "back spatter," created when the gunshot struck its target.

"There was a tremendous amount of energy (to deliver this pattern of blood dots)," Marks testified. "They were down in the weave of the shirt."

The defense team maintains that the drops on Camm's t-shirt could have come from his 7-year-old son Bradley coughing up, or expirating, blood when Camm tried to perform CPR on him. The defense also said perhaps the drops got there by Camm brushing against the body of his daughter Jill, 5, while trying to remove Bradley from the back seat of his wife's Ford Bronco.

Camm's wife, Kim, and their children were found shot to death in the garage of their Georgetown, IN home on the night of September 28, 2000.  Kim and Bradley Camm were found on the garage floor. Jill Camm was in the Bronco's back seat, her seatbelt still buckled. Each had been shot once.

Wednesday, Marks conceded that expirated blood could explain the pattern on Camm's t-shirt. However, DNA testing indicated that the blood came from Jill Camm, not Bradley.

Further DNA testing concluded that Jill Camm's blood also spattered onto the Bronco's rollbar, her seatbelt, the back of the front passenger seat, and the center console separating the two front seats.

"You'll see a misting effect, almost atomized," Marks told jurors Thursday. "You'd have to be about a foot from the target to get that kind of effect. No more than three or four feet."

Marks testified that he verified his findings by examining more than 140 photographs of the blood patterns in November 2001, more than a year after Camm's arrest, but only three months before Camm's first trial.

"And the prosecutor said ‘I'll drive up there and kiss you," said defense counsel Richard Kammen.

"Those were his words," Marks replied.

Marks was not the first crime scene technician to pronounce the blood droplets back spatter, the conclusion that led to Camm's arrest for his family's murders. Camm has insisted that he's a victim of sloppy evidence-gathering and opinion-based science.

"The fact is there is no set standard for determining high-velocity impact spatter," Kammen told the jury Thursday. "No agreement on how many stains make a pattern."

The eight blood droplets in question each are no larger than a millimeter.

"The rule of thumb is that they would be dry within thirty seconds," Marks said. 

A transfer stain is more likely to larger, lighter-colored, and likely to penetrate little below the fabric surface, he concluded. But under cross-examination, Marks agreed that the presumptive tests used to detect whether the dots could have been blood could have pushed the dried droplets deeper into the T-shirt.

"You would not have rubbed phenolphthalein on the stains," Kammen asked.

"True," Marks replied.

Marks also hedged when ask to explain why an example of high-velocity spatter would deposit fewer than a dozen drops of Jill Camm's blood in a section of fabric only 3 inches by 3 inches square.

"There had to be hundreds of droplets that didn't make it to the shirt," said Kammen. "Wasn't that your opinion in 2001?"

"The number of stains doesn't mean anything if it's a partial pattern of the entire pattern," Marks said. 

In addition, the chaotic nature of crime scenes makes it impossible to re-create blood patterns.

"You expect to see overlapping patterns," Marks said. "The way the skin or skull might break or folks, the way the hair traps (a gunshot), it can only happen that way one time."

Three weeks before Camm's first trial Marks viewed cut-out sections of the t-shirt. He saw only four of the original stains; the others had been consumed in testing for DNA. Under defense questioning, Marks agreed that two of the four stains appeared to have been "brushed."

"And brushed is consistent with transfer rather than spatter," Kammen said. "But you concluded that the brushing occurred after the spatter."

Jurors asked whether Camm could have gotten the blood dots on his t-shirt by leaning against a spatter stain.

"You can mimic the pattern being transferred, but not with this size," Marks replied. "And they're going to be on top of the (fabric) weave."

Jurors also asked whether Marks would have gained anything by reaching the same conclusions that led to Camm's arrest.

"I'm not seeking accolades that make people happy," Marks told them. "A police officer has nothing without credibility."

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