January 10th, 2006 - Day 2: DNA Technology: Salvation Or Wild Goose Chase?

The David Camm defense team says DNA testing of a garment found near where Kimberly, Jill and Bradley Camm were brutally gunned down five-and-a-half years ago could turn the case against their client upside down.

The Floyd County prosecutor's office says that's nonsense and that such testing is just "another wild goose chase."

Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth granted the defense request for testing, but termed his permission "routine," and said it will in no way slow the jury selection process nor the start of Camm's second murder trial.

Welcome to Days of Our Judicial Lives, Boonville.

The re-testing of a pair of socks found at the crime scene adds another twist to the labyrinth that's become routine on the road toward justice in this triple murder case that has at once held the region spellbound and horrified since September 2000.

Jury selection in David Camm's second trial for murdering his family was in it's second day when the old socks dropped into the pot. Camm is accused, along with Charles Boney, of slaying the family; Camm's first guilty verdict was thrown out after an appeals court ruled the prosecution made too many errors in his trial. A do-over was ordered by the court and picked up by Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson on November 15, 2004.

Boney was added to the investigation after Camm's original conviction and subsequent successful appeal. His trial is underway now in Floyd County.

The socks were found during the original crime scene investigation. The Indiana State Police crime lab deemed stains on them to be blood and seminal fluids, but said that technology available in the year 2000 prevented them from confirming that or extracting any DNA.

But analysis by a defense-hired company called Cell Mark indicated that advances in technology could lead to DNA extraction.

Shortly after lunch on Tuesday, and before a new group of potential jurors were brought into court, defense lawyer Kitty Liell, an entirely competent, charming and self assured advocate of the criminally charged who can turn into a puffed up banty rooster with a pit bull's personality in a New York minute, approached Aylsworth along with co-counsel Stacy Uliana, a Tonto-like sidekick in horn-rimmed glasses.

Aylsworth listened to their arguments for about five minutes. Steve Owen, the chief deputy Floyd County prosecutor who has turned the aw-shucks-good ole boy routine into a fine art, seemed to fray around the edges a bit at the request.

"We've been down this road before," he told the judge in a raspy semi-whisper, reminding Aylsworth of another dry hole the defense insisted was their ticket to Camm's freedom a few months ago.

In October, Camm and Company were hot to get testing done on DNA and fingerprints belonging to one Victor Ernest Nugent, a former co-worker of Charles Boney. As soon as he saw his name and face on TV, Nugent readily agreed to the procedure and promptly exonerated himself.

"Yeah, but that wasn't found at the crime scene," Liell shot back.

Owen, who has put bad guys away for more than 20 years, is one of those lawyers people tend to underestimate, even as they're being led away to life imprisonment. He plays that bit like the pro that he is.

All of this was done in open court, albeit at the edge of the judge's bench, while the rest of us strained and looked at each other, trying to figure out what was up.

I may be old and a little hard of hearing, but this was a bit much.

Right after he ruled, I stood and asked Aylsworth if he would bend his gag order a bit and allow the lawyers to merely explain--on camera--what they'd asked for and detail his ruling.

The judge replied that he would, in the future, speak a little louder when conducting this type of business. Fine and well for my colleagues in the print media, I said, but it denies my viewers the opportunity to get the skinny directly from the parties, especially since Indiana law prohibits TV cameras in the courtroom.

Aylsworth, a square guy but one who plays it strictly by the book, said he couldn't allow that since it would require the opposing lawyer to have their chance in front of the Big Lens, something he was "trying to avoid."

Owen was just plain pee-oed over the whole thing, asking Aylsworth to require such business in the future to be done in the privacy of his office, away from us working stiffs who are just trying to let YOU know what's happening in the courtrooms you're paying for, and, incidentally, what's being done about a family brutally slain in a Georgetown garage.

"This is just an attempt to generate a news story," Owen said, glaring at me. "These guys will make a big deal out of this."

"Hey Steve," I shot back, "I'm just reporting what's going on in open court." Excuusssseee me.

Oh, by the way, did I mention, we're getting closer to a jury? Six folks from the original 14 who were questioned Monday have made the final cut. They're not in yet--they can still be struck on the last day--but so far, Owen, Liell, Uliana and supporting minions have agreed on this much.

Welcome to As the Gavel Turns, Boonville.