January 9th, 2006 - Day 1: David Camm: Victim or Villain?

The last five years have been tough on David Ray Camm.

Forget about what's going on in his head; only he knows for sure and even that's perhaps the first ring of hell into which he's been cast.

No matter how ardently he might reveal and explain how he feels, there are plenty who don't believe a word of it, ever. Just as conversely, no matter what others may say is going on inside the head of the accused killer three times over, many across The Hoosier State and elsewhere don't buy a syllable of it either.

His friends and family say he's been tortured for five years, not allowed to properly grieve the loss of his wife and kids while he rots in various jails, falsely accused of their murders.

The state of Indiana, on the other hand, says he's a diabolical killer whose present state of mind is a journey into pure evil, borne of his own making.

But forget all that for a minute. Just take a look at the guy.

Gone is that long cool drink of Southern Indiana quiet that cut a pretty clean jib between the creases of his Indiana State Troopers uniform.

David Camm is a hulk now, a beefed up, thick-necked, barrel-chested behemoth with a waist that's way too wide. A physique born of stress, starchy prison food and hours spent pumping penitentiary iron when nothing else will break the boredom.

Gone, too, is that glow of success, the rosy cheeks, the great color symbolic of life in the country, a nice home on a couple of acres, a great family and a place as the new star in the favorite uncle's business.

Skin tone replaced now with that pasty look that used to be called a 'pool room pallor', a grayish white mashed potato complexion morphed by way too many days in the sunless confines of The Can, about as far removed from the hills and valleys of southern Indiana as any human being can get.

He's been shackled so many times that, even dressed in a business suit for his trial, he waddles slightly when he walks, as if those ankle chains, which are removed in the presence of the jury, are still shortening his step a little too much.

David Camm's second trial for the gunshot slaying of his wife Kim and their two children, Bradley and Jill started Monday in Boonville, Ind., about 75 miles west of the Floyd County neighborhood where they all lived until a horrible night in September, 2000, when Camm's wife and kids where brutally, ruthlessly and horribly shot to death in the garage of their Georgetown home.

They had just come back from swim practice; the kids were still inside Kim's Bronco. Kimberly Star Renn Camm lay in a pool of blood on the garage floor. Camm says that's where he found them when he came home from a church basketball game. The state of Indiana alleges that it was he and Charles Boney who put them there.

The death penalty is off the table in this case; partly because of the expense in seeking that punishment, partly because the necessary aggravators (other than multiple killings) aren't there.

But this may be a matter of life and death just the same. Looking into David Camm's eyes, there is only a flickering of light, a flame-blown candle that once was a blaze way back when. It's all that's left of David Camm's spirit. And it's struggling to stay lit, to survive.

If he's convicted, he'll likely die in the joint, but it's a death that will probably start the minute the verdict is intoned inside this rural Indiana courtroom.

And if the jury sends him home with an acquittal, it's hard to imagine there will ever be any strength to that candle. Kim, Jill and Brad will still be gone; there will always be those who say he did it and well, the last five years have been tough on David Ray Camm.

Maybe way too tough, no matter how it all comes out.