By James Zambroski
January 23rd, Day 11
The Latest Defense Team Bad Guy
A new heavy emerged in the David Ray Camm murder trial while the defense cross examined former lead investigator Sgt. Sean Clemons.
During almost 10 hours of questioning over two days by defense lawyer Katherine "Kitty" Liell, Stanley Faith, the corpulent former Floyd County prosecutor who led the first trial against Camm, was painted as the not-so-behind the scenes leader of the Indiana State Police investigation into the September 28, 2000 murders of Kim, Jill and Bradley Camm.
Clemons testified on Monday that he was on a first name basis with Faith and that the prosecutor frequently dictated steps he wished to be taken by police and others investigating the murders.The detective said the familiarity came because he frequently worked with Faith, owing to Clemons's assignment as lead detective in Floyd County out of the Sellersburg ISP post.
"This investigation was being run by a politician and a lawyer, is that correct?" Liell asked.
Clemons acknowledged that it was.
One by one, Liell repeated the names of four investigators who worked for Faith and handled evidence in the case, asking Clemons if he was aware that none of them had any law enforcement training.
One by one, Clemons said he did not know if any had police training.
During Monday's cross examination, which lasted all day, Clemons said Faith instructed him to work with Robert Stites, whom the former prosecutor said was a blood spatter analyst and crime scene reconstructionist.
But as Liell ticked off Stites's alleged lack of experience and training, including that he had not had the basic, 40-hour basic blood spatter course offered to police officers, Clemons said he might have changed the way he filed a probable cause affidavit that led to the issuance of a warrant for Camm's arrest three days after the murders.
Four of the 10 allegations in the affidavit came as a result of Stites's view of the crime, Clemons acknowledged, adding that if he had known of Stites's background, he might have sought a second opinion "had I not been able to corroborate" the allegations himself.
In a day that was full of the defense's attempt to punch holes in the police investigation that led to charges against Camm, Clemons nevertheless stuck by original conclusions he made about the former Indiana State Trooper's culpability. Clemons also acknowledged that he and Camm had been lifelong friends.
Clemons testified that Camm was agitated and pacing when he arrived at the murder scene September 28; Liell asked why he considered that behavior unusual?
"It is my belief that Mr. Camm would have been concerned about his family rather than pacing back and forth and worrying about whether the investigation was being done right," Clemons said.
Liell railed at the apparent lack of police interest prior to Camm's arrest in the 11 people who would later provide the alibi central to his defense: He was playing basketball at a church near his home when his family was slain.
"Can you find me a report that says all 10 basketball players and Tom Jolly (a spectator) were interviewed before Dave Camm was arrested?" Liell asked.
Clemons said he could not.
Clemons also said under prodding from Liell that he had checked Floyd County Sheriff's records for crime patterns in Camm's neighborhood a year before the murders.
"I found nothing to indicate there were any violent crimes in the neighborhood...it was a rural area...," Clemons testified.
Clemons said he was unaware of a house burglary and a shots fired complaint noted by Liell.
Camm's lead defense lawyer grilled the detective about his characterization in the arrest affidavit of one witness's statement.
A Camm neighbor reported hearing three short, crisp bangs between 9:15 and 9:30. She said she thought the sounds were made by her husband pounding a desk or his computer with his fist.
But Clemons's affidavit states otherwise.
"A witness said that between 9:15 and 9:30 she heard three distinct sounds that could be interpreted as gunshots," he wrote in the court document.
Clemons also testified that he checked Camm's cell phone records from August 1 to October 1 and acknowledged that investigators could find no calls between Camm and Charles Boney, the co-defendant in the murders currently on trial in Floyd County.
But when Clemons testified that he only made a similar check of the Camm family land line phone from September 25 through October 1, Liell went straight back to Faith.
"Was that another Stan Faith directive," she asked.
Liell directed some of her most intense cross examination toward characterizations Clemons made in previous testimony about statements Camm made while undergoing forensic testing at a hospital.
"This is what they do when you murder your wife and kids," Camm is alleged to have said while waiting for hairs to be plucked by a Floyd County hospital employee.
Liell asked Clemons if the statement "wasn't the voice of sarcasm by someone to break the tension." Clemons disagreed, saying he viewed Camm's words as an admission of guilt.
But he could not explain why the statement was not included in the probable cause affidavit.
Clemons also admitted that he was angry when he was replaced as lead detective in September 2005.
But under redirect questioning by Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steve Owen, in Boonville while his boss, Keith Henderson, wraps up the state's case against Boney, Clemons gave the state a chance to repeat a central theme of their case, that a second investigation, a "fresh pair of eyes," netted the same conclusion: David Camm murdered his family.
Owen also made note of the fact that Stan Faith is a Democrat, while Henderson is a Republican, and that Clemons's replacement, Detective Gary Gilbert, is assigned to the Evansville state police post.
After testimony concluded Monday, Owen said the cross examination of Clemons was that typically done by defense lawyers.
"Look, I've tried over 100 jury trials. This is what they do, they blame the police," he said.
VIEWERS AND READERS, I MADE A MISTAKE.
In the Saturday edition of A Reporter's Notebook, I told you that there is no separation of witnesses in this case because Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth denied a motion for the separation. In fact, neither the defense nor prosecution made such a motion; under Indiana trial rules, the judge must grant separation if either side requests it, but since neither side did, all witnesses are allowed in the courtroom to hear testimony at any time.
I regret the inaccuracy.