By James Zambroski
January 24th, Day 12
Last Call From a Free Man
Just hours before an unsuspecting David Ray Camm was arrested for murdering his family, he telephoned a pal at the Indiana State Police post in Sellersburg to talk about the investigation.
Testimony on Tuesday at Camm's Warrick County retrial for murdering his wife Kim and their two children, Jill and Bradley, included the playing of a tape recording of an 11-minute conversation Camm had with Sgt. Sam Sarkisian, an evidence technician who took many of the crime scene photographs. Sarkisian, a 20+ year veteran of the force, has since been promoted to First Sergeant at the Sellersburg post.
The jury was given a printed transcript of the recorded dialogue to follow along, but will not be allowed to carry that text into the jury room during deliberations. Court rules require that they rely on their memory if the call is to be included in their deliberations.
The call was made on October 1, 2000, three days after the family was found gunned down inside the garage of their Georgetown, IN, home. Camm was staying with his parents after being locked out of the home while police continued processing it as a crime scene. The conversation was automatically recorded, as are all telephone calls coming into the state police post.
The defendant, a former Indiana State Trooper, complains that he's not heard anything about the progress of the investigation.
David Camm advances several theories of the crime, including that someone followed or stalked his wife, possibly got in the car with her or was lying in wait when she and the children arrived home. Sarkisian continued pumping Camm for information, encouraging the speculation.
Bradley Camm was found deceased on the garage floor, lying next to his mother. Jill was pronounced dead still strapped to her seat inside the Bronco. All died of gunshot wounds. Camm had previously said that he removed his son from the car and attempted to give him CPR.
Sarkisian testified that his goal was to keep the now-suspected Camm talking. Several times on the phone, he told Camm he considered him a friend. Camm indicates that was one reason he called the state police post at Sellersburg the night of the murders, rather than 911, which is routed to dispatchers at the Floyd County Sheriff's Office.
Camm complained that he was being kept in the dark about the investigation and that none of his former colleagues, now working the case, were staying in touch. He also complained to Sarkisian about not being allowed to enter the house to retrieve clothes for his family's funeral and about the amount of time detectives were taking to release the crime scene.
Professions of innocence were sprinkled throughout the conversation with the investigator.
He presses Sarkisian for support.
But Sarkisian dodges that kind of commitment.
The reason, Sarkisian testified, is because he had information about the investigation that Camm didn't.
"I knew that they were preparing charges against Mr. Camm at that time," he told the jury under questioning from Chief Floyd County Deputy Prosecutor Steve Owen.
"At that time, I thought it was appropriate for him to be charged, yes sir," he said.
Throughout the playing of the recording, Katherine "Kitty" Liell, Camm's lead defense lawyer, made no objection to Sarkisian's testimony. Later, she said the defense team was prepared for the prosecution to introduce into evidence everything Camm said to state troopers.
"We think the more the jury gets to hear Dave's voice, to hear Dave himself, the better they can judge his statements," she said.
Prosecutors plan to continue presenting testimony from the officers who conducted the original investigation, saying it's necessary for "damage control" to stem the barrage of defense criticism of that probe.