Bart Epstein (in foreground) leaving the Boone County Courthouse with members of the Camm defense team.
The t-shirt Camm was wearing on the night of the murders.
Kim, Bradley and Jill Camm (Source: WAVE 3 Archives)
The garage at the Camm home - the scene of the murders.
LEBANON, IN (WAVE) - A university-trained forensic scientist has offered perhaps the strongest words yet in defense to charges that David Camm murdered his wife and their two young children more than 13 years ago.
"Nothing that I found was inconsistent with what David Camm said he did, after returning to find his family," consultant Bart Epstein told jurors Wednesday morning.
Epstein has been analyzing blood patterns for more than half a century; first as deputy director for Minnesota's state crime lab, and the past eight years as a private consultant. Defense attorneys hired him to examine blood evidence prior to Camm's first trial in 2002.
Epstein told jurors that he was fully aware then that investigators considered millimeter-sized blood dots on Camm's t-shirt the strongest evidence that Camm was the killer.
"I told them (Camm's lawyers) that I would report what I found," Epstein told prosecutors during cross-examination. "And if it was spatter, their client was going to have a lot of problems."
By spatter, prosecutors are alleging that Camm shot his 5-year-old daughter Jill at such close range that blood from her head wound marked his shirt. Jill's body, and those of Camm's wife Kim, 35, and son Bradley, 7, were found in the garage of their Georgetown, IN home on the night of September 28, 2000.
Kim and Bradley were lying on the garage floor. Jill was still strapped into the rear seat of her mother's Ford Bronco. However, Epstein told jurors that spatter stains inside the Bronco prove that Camm couldn't have been the shooter.
"There are at least 40 stains in a two-by-six-inch area on the rollbar," said Epstein. "Ninety percent of them are a mixture of fatty material, blood and tissue."
DNA testing has confirmed the blood on the rollbar is Jill's. Epstein testified that most of the stains are about 2 to 4 millimeters in size, much larger than the dots on Camm's shirt.
"Larger particles travel further; the smaller particles drop off," Epstein said. "It's like throwing a golf ball and a ping pong ball with the same force. The denser golf-ball goes farther."
"If the shirt stains came from there (gun-shot spatter), where are the larger particles?" Epstein asked. "You don't see them there."
Epstein testified the blood-stain pattern on Camm's shirt also appears to be more linear. In contrast, the stains on the rollbar are more scattered and random.
From the beginning, Camm has claimed he bloodied his shirt his own failed attempt to save his son's life. He first told investigators that Bradley coughed up blood during CPR. Once DNA testing confirmed the blood was Jill's, Camm suggested he brushed up against her as he removed Bradley from the vehicle.
As did fellow defense witness and blood-pattern analyst Barie Goetz, Epstein conducted his own experiments.
"I wasn't trying to reproduce the stains," Epstein he told jurors. "I was trying to determine what mechanisms might have produced what we saw."
Unlike Goetz, Epstein donned t-shirts woven with the same 50-50 blend of polyester and cotton as Camm's. He applied droplets of his own blood to a wig. The blood patterns created didn't look like those on Camm's shirt, but Epstein blames his own methodology.
"We didn't re-test as the blood on the hair was drying," he said.
Epstein told jurors that blood on Jill's hair shaft beading as it dried offers the most-likely explanation for the t-shirt stains. But Epstein made no mention of it in his evaluations prior to Camm's first trial.
"When did your opinion change?" Special Prosecutor Stan Levco asked. "Sometime between the first and second trial?"
Epstein testified that another experiment disproved prosecutors' first theories as to the time of the crime. Investigators had pegged it at shortly after 9:30 p.m., minutes after Camm arrived home from playing basketball at his uncle's church and only moments before calling the ISP's Sellersburg post to report finding the bodies.
Epstein put the crime scene photos to the test by pouring some of his own blood on Camm's garage floor.
"Heavy clotting was obvious in about 30 to 40 minutes," he testified. "But it would take a least an hour to an hour and a half to see what they (crime scene photos) showed."
If wholly accurate, it means the killer struck at about 8 p.m. Camm insists he was still playing basketball at that time. Several eyewitnesses, including relatives, have sworn Camm never left the gym. But prosecutors allege that Camm still had an opportunity to sneak home, commit the murders, and return to bolster his alibi.
Jurors asked Epstein whether temperature and humidity could affect results. He said only if weather conditions were significantly different.
"We're talking maybe one or two minutes' (faster or slower) drying times," Epstein told the jury.
Prosecution analysts have concluded Camm could have gotten his wife's blood on his shoe and a sock only by shooting her at close range. Epstein's examination dovetail's with Goetz'; they're ‘transfer stains' from Camm's shoelaces, which may have dipped into blood on his wife's pants as he administered CPR.
"These stains show serum separation," Epstein said. "That would have had to have happened after the murders. If these were spatter, you would see a lot more staining. And projected blood does not ‘bounce up.' These stains are high on the shoe."
Prosecutors allege that Camm staged the scene to make his wife appear to be the victim of a sexual attack; removing her pants after shooting her. However, Epstein told jurors blood patterns on the garage floor indicate Kim's pants were removed before she died.
Charles Boney's sweatshirt wasn't part of Epstein's first look at the evidence in 2001. It wasn't tested until Camm's first conviction was overturned in 2004. Testing later tied Boney to that shirt and the scene. He was convicted of the murders and has been serving a 225 year sentence since January 2006.
Boney claims he used the sweatshirt as wrapping for a gun he delivered to Camm and that he was there to hear Camm use that gun to kill his family. Camm's legal team insists that Boney is the killer and was acting alone.
"If that (sweat)shirt were within four feet of the gunshot, you'd expect to see back-spatter on it," said Levco.
"If there were back-spatter created," Epstein said.
But the pattern analyst told jurors the sweatshirt has only contact stains and Indiana State Police technicians has testified that Camm's DNA is nowhere on it.
Epstein said a presumptive test revealed blood on Camm's gym shorts, but he said, "It probably is a continuation of the stain on the back of his shirt."
Goetz told jurors that Camm could have stained his wiping his fingers, stained with Jill's blood, as he removed his son from the Bronco.
"But if you found blood there, why wasn't it tested to determine whose it was?" Levco asked.
"We didn't have what we needed to do it," Epstein said. "Why somebody else didn't, I don't know."
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