February 9, 2006 - Day 24: Pieces To The Puzzle

By James Zambroski

February 9th, 2006 -- Day 24
Pieces to the Puzzle

There have been close to 40 witnesses in the state's case so far. Prosecutor Keith Henderson likens what they've said to pieces in a puzzle, cautioning reporters not to concentrate too much on one piece or one day's testimony.

I have not been able to bring you every witness in this column; my experience, training, judgment and interest has focused on what I consider the highlights, although I believe you've gotten a complete picture of the trial so far.

I've decided this might be a good time to bring you some thumbnail sketches of witnesses not written about so far, to fill in the puzzle.

Cindy Mattingly: This Hoosier soccer mom might be one of the last people to see her friend Kimberly Camm alive. They sat together while Jill Camm and Mattingly's daughter finished a dance class just a couple of hours before the murders. Mattingly testified that Mrs. Camm told her she had to get home between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. to meet her husband, David Ray Camm.

The prosecution believes this conversation was important because it blows Camm's alibi, that he routinely played basketball at a church on Thursday evenings. The state believes Mrs. Camm was unaware that her husband was going out that night and that the basketball game was not a regular part of Camm's routine.

The defense objected to Mattingly's testimony on the grounds that it was hearsay. Camm's rights were violated, they say, because the defense, obviously, was unable to cross-examine Mrs. Camm. But the judge allowed the jury to hear what Mattingly remembered from that conversation. Later, defense attorneys said Mrs. Mattingly either didn't remember it right or misunderstood its context.

Vickey Yates: She was in charge of the after school/after care program at Graceland Christian School, the private school attended by Jill and her brother Bradley. Jill often went there after kindergarten, waiting for a family member (generally her mother, after work) to pick her up. She testified that everything about Jill and that day at after care seemed normal.

Karla Heinz was Jill's kindergarten teacher at Graceland. On the stand, she described Jill as "beautiful, quiet and sweet." She told the jury that she did not recall Jill having any complaints about injuries on September 28, 2000, the day she died.

She also said that Kimberly Camm signed most of Jill's evaluations. During Jill Camm's autopsy, pathologists discovered injuries to her genital area that they said could be the result of molestation. But during opening statements, the defense suggested that those injuries could have just as easily come from the child falling against playground equipment. The state's questioning of Mrs. Heinz appears to be a preemptive strike against that theory.

Debra Aven is a Floyd County housewife who got to know Mrs. Camm while both their children attended swim practice together. On the night of the murders, Mrs. Aven sat beside Mrs. Camm at Hazelwood Middle School while Bradley and Mrs. Aven's son practiced.

Mrs. Aven testified she usually waited outside for her son, but on the evening of September 28, she went inside. She said she'd known Mrs. Camm for about a year-and-a-half, almost exclusively through the swim team activities. She described her as "quiet and shy." She said Mrs. Camm never spoke about her personal life and that she did not recall anything unusual in the parking lot that night after practice.

Donald Ray Forrester is serving a 195-year sentence for rape and assault. His prison record goes back to 1970. He is currently diagnosed as having terminal cancer, among other illnesses, and came to court with a large cast on his right arm.

Forrester said he was a cellmate of Camm's at one time and told the jury that he once found Camm crying at 4:30 a.m. while Camm was standing next to a trash can. He testified that Camm spoke of being haunted by Bradley's cries for help the night of the murders. But under cross-examination, Forrester admitted that he was receiving large doses of morphine and that he'd been treated for mental illness since 1987.

James Hatton is another convict who claimed to know Camm while they were imprisoned together prior to Camm's brief release following his successful appeal. Hatton testified that Camm told him details of the murders, including why he'd killed his wife (she was leaving him) and that he'd moved the bodies in order to explain blood on his t-shirt.

Hatton has spent most of his adult life in jail for burglary and escape. He is currently awaiting sentencing on drug charges. He told the jury that he decided to come forward with his information about Camm so that "the judges will see I'm trying to change my ways and become a little more responsible."

The problem, the defense says, is that Hatton has made a habit of coming up with supposedly inside information on high profile murder cases. Besides the Camm case, he's offered police information on murders in Bloomington and Bartholomew County.

Defense counsel Katherine 'Kitty' Liell also got into the court record that Hatton has made repeated legal requests to have his sentence "modified."

Jeremy "Joker" Bullock went to prison at age 16 to begin serving a 30-year sentence for murder. He confessed. He's called 'Joker,' incidentally, because of the joker tattoos that cover his arms.

Bullock, now age 28, said he befriended Camm while they were both in protective custody in the penitentiary. Camm was there because he is a former police officer; Bullock because he'd been knifed while in the general population.

Bullock, a self-described artist, said he tattooed Camm with a cross emblazoned with a crown of thorns. He testified that Camm gave him details about the weapon used in the killings, including that the gun was a 'hammerless' semi-automatic and that he used Ball brand ammunition because it was cheap and hard to trace.

Some of those rounds were later recovered by police at one of Camm's relatives's home.

During his testimony, Bullock choked up a little while describing why he came forward ("it just wasn't right"). Prosecutor Keith Henderson may have made an error in not probing that emotion further; Bullock seemed just on the edge of sobbing.

But during cross-examination, he admitted that he, Camm and the rest of the inmates in protective custody watched the CBS news magazine program 48 Hours, which featured the Camm murders, a few years ago. The defense alleges that Bullock got the information he presented at trial by watching that broadcast.

Sgt. Richard Hammer is a 36-year veteran of the Indiana State Police currently assigned to the Indianapolis crime lab. One of his specialties is comparing shoe imprints with tracks left at crime scenes.

Hammer said the comparison technique involves two steps. First is to compare general characteristics, such as the tread pattern on each brand. Those are all the same, brand by brand. The second step is compare unique aspects between the print found at the scene and the owner's particular shoe. Scuff marks, cuts, wear patterns,etc.

One way this is done is by coating the suspect's shoe with Vaseline, then stepping on a sheet of paper or thin piece of plastic. The imprint is than coated with magnetic powder and photographed.

Hammer testified that the comparison between a bloody footprint found in the Camm family garage had the same general characteristics as the sole of Camm's Converse All Star tennis shoes, but none of the individual, unique characteristics on the shoe. He said it was equally possible that Camm's shoe, or another, unknown Converse made the print.

Damon Lettich is a civilian fiber scientist employed by the Indiana State Police. He said he compared fibers taken from Charles Boney's sweatshirt found at the scene with carpet fibers taken from Camm's home in Georgetown. He said the fibers are polyester, the same color and thickness (which vary, depending on which room the comparison fibers were taken from).

He testified that 18 of the 22 fibers he recovered were found on the inside of the sweatshirt and that they are the same size, diameter and pattern as those recovered from carpet in Camm's home.

Fiber analysis, though, precludes saying for certain that two samples taken from two sources are identical (the exception being if the sample was torn in two, then moved).

Under cross-examination, Lettich admitted that he'd not compared the sweatshirt fibers with any carpet in any place in which Boney had lived.

Charles Boney has said he sold Camm the murder weapon. One possible theory on this testimony is that the prosecution might allege that Camm wrapped the gun in the sweatshirt and hid it in his home prior to the killings.

Of course, there is an entirely different puzzle that we've barely begun to see: The defense case. That picture will begin taking shape next week.

P.S. Since I'm out of the office, I can't access my WAVE 3 email account. If you wanna reach me while I'm in Boonville, send email to: zamman1953@yahoo.com.