By James Zambroski
January 17th - Day 7
Murder Most Foul Says Not Nearly Enough
It was an image not soon forgotten by those who bore witness.
Murdered Bradley Camm, lying on his back on the garage floor, his arms fully extended in a crucifix-like pose. His shirt pulled up to midchest; the rest of him wearing his after school togs; his face serenely nondescript, mercifully, at least, not pained, save a small trickle of blood on his cheek, the only symbol of the horror that befell him. That and the dusky gray, moonscape coloring that unmistakably imprints the dead.
Everyone who saw the picture blasted on a courtroom wall, in full color, a four foot square definition of the word murder projected on a screen behind the witness, would much rather have seen Brad in a school photo, a family Christmas shot or digital print romping with his dog in much, much better days. But instead this image of horror was being used to try and convict his father of an unspeakable crime, there in front of family, friends and strangers at the bar of justice in Warrick County, Indiana.
Welcome to day seven of the David Ray Camm murder trial.
Crime scene photos and a video of that ghastly place were shown by the prosecution today, doing what they believed to be their duty, putting a face on the three murder charges they've lodged against the former Indiana State Trooper whom, they say, slaughtered his family without batting an eye.
Lying next to Brad in a gelatinous red pool, his martyred mother, Kim. Here the violence of murder showed the full force of its unspeakable name: her body and arms twisted and bent, her bare legs thrown in a pair to one side; the trauma to her head clear. Describing the picture of this loved one any further is a cruelty for which there can be scant forgiveness.
Next was little Jill Camm. Mercifully, we don't see her beautiful face in the grip of death, hidden as it was in the folds of her clothing, but we are traumatized by the blood staining her cheek and by the suddenness with which death stole her.
The picture shows her slumped over in her car seat, behind and to the right of the driver, her brightly colored book bag nearby; the strap from the seatbelt crossing her tiny body not nearly enough to stop the insanity of a high-powered slug.
The unfortunate jury who didn't ask to perform this duty watched as those witnessing something they'd never before seen.Women on the panel brought their hands to their mouths, catching themselves before they covered up completely, resting fingers on chin and lower lips.
The men, stoic as their culture requires them to be, were still betrayed by the look in their eyes as many tried gently rocking themselves to comfort while they watched every father's nightmare, all in living color.
And then, Mother of Mercy, the families.
I've never understood why families of victims are so compelled to come to trials like this, but after years of asking, I accept when the only thing they can say is they come because they must.
Frank Renn, father of Kimberly Camm and grandfather to Jill and Bradley, sits in the front row, closer than any of us, a dozen feet away from the horrors being documented in front of him. He is unable to watch, closing his eyes, tilting his head back slightly and resting his fingertips on the center of his forehead near the top of his nose.
Across the way, 74-year old Donald Camm, the defendant's father, seems to be asleep while pictures of his grandkids and daughter-in-law rip the reality of Boonville. But of course, he's not.
Donnie Camm, David's brother, and Sam Lockhardt, the uncle who has steadfastly believed in his nephew (and put the family fortune where his mouth is), lean forward, their elbows on their knees, eyes looking a foot or two in front of their feet.
David Camm's face is buried in the palm of his hand, his four fingertips extended toward his ear. It is patently unfair for the casual -- or even professional -- observer to judge how he reacts. Who can say what it's like to view the chamber in which your family was annihilated, fresh with the remains of your fallen loved ones? Who knows what goes through the mind of a man who would commit the ultimate atrocity by gunning them down?
There is an unworldly silence among the rest who are there. A ying to the yang of the scream that rises from deep inside in response to this particular necessity of justice. My breath is gone, my heart, like a lead weight sinking to the depths of someplace I'd rather not go.
Professional and all that, I am unashamed to feel as I do while watching, despite the drive to scribble the notes that now make this accounting possible. Actually, I'm thankful that I'm still able to react (then and now) as I do.
After several minutes of the photos, the defense objects at their continual display, but Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson counters that he still needs them shown, even as his jaw clenches over defense lawyer Stacy Uliana's interruption, and the judge allows the macabre viewing to continue.
The witness, retired Sgt. James Niemeyer, the Indiana State Police crime unit technician who spent 18 hours at the Camm family home processing the scene and taking the pictures to which we were now subjected, routinely described what we were seeing, making it all a matter of the legal record afforded everyone in this Land of the Free.
But while those niceties of common law mattered to Camm and the 15 men and women called to render judgement, the rest of us only endured what our lives or profession requires.
No one who saw will forget Bradley Camm, outstretched arms embracing heaven during his last moments on earth.
We will always remember Kim Camm, a mom who went down fighting, and Jill Camm who suddenly went to the angels after just a short time here among those who loved her.
Murder most foul, first, last and only William Shakespeare. To the rest of us, it's doesn't say nearly enough.
P.S. Since I'm out of the office for the next several weeks, I can't access my WAVE 3 email account. If you wanna reach me while I'm in Boonville, send email to: email@example.com. Later.