February 10, 2006 - Day 25: Helping Both Sides?

By James Zambroski

February 10th, 2006 -- Day 25
Helping Both Sides?

For five-and-a-half years, David Ray Camm has relied on 11 men as his alibi for the night his family was murdered.

Camm has consistently said he was playing basketball at the Family Life Center, located on the campus of the Georgetown Christian Church, the night his family was shot to death. An informal pick up game, open to whomever showed up, had been active on Thursday nights for about six weeks prior to the murders on September 28, 2000.

The two tallest players took turns picking their teams. They played five-on-five, full court games. A pretty intense work out. Rules were that you had to win by four; sometimes a game would last 30 to 40 minutes.

Ten players were on the court at one time; if others showed up, they substituted in for the next game, with a player (or players) sitting out.

Camm says he was there from about 7 p.m. until everyone left around 9:20. The departure times are precise because of an alarm system that was activated when the last of the players departed the facility that night. Camm says he drove home and found his wife, Kimberly, and children Bradley and Jill slain inside the family's garage.

But of the eleven people at the gym that night, at least three were related to Camm, cousins Jeffrey and Philip along with Uncle Sam Lockhart. A couple of others were employed by Sam's business, United Dynamics, Inc. The prosecution, no doubt, will tear into their credibility.

That leaves a handful of others who knew David Camm to some extent but didn't have familial or any sort of business ties.

Scott Schrank falls into that category. He testified in Camm's first trial that he saw the former Indiana State Trooper at the gym but has never been able to say for certain that he believes Camm was there the entire time.

Schrank was listed as a defense witness, but wound up taking the oath for the prosecution on Friday because he'd been irked by Katherine 'Kitty' Liell's characterization of him during her opening statement at the start of this trial.

Liell displayed a picture of Schrank and 10 others during the opening, telling the jury that a rush to judgment snapped the cuffs on Camm before all the basketball players were interviewed. She promised that all 11 would tell the jury that Camm was playing ball and couldn't have left, as the prosecution asserts.

When Schrank learned of his part in the opening of the trial, he called Floyd County Keith Henderson and asked to testify during the state's case. Henderson, obviously, was glad to comply.

Schrank says he saw Camm when they both first got to the gym. He testified he saw him on the sideline when Sam Lockhart showed up and saw Camm sit out for either the second or third game so Lockhart could play. Schrank said he was almost positive it was for the second game, but it could have been the third.

The only other time Schrank saw Camm, he testified, was when he, Schrank, left the center around 8:45 p.m. He saw Camm three times in the two hours he played ball that night.

But it was what Schrank didn't know that likely laid the foundation for how the prosecution will deal with the alibi witnesses when the defense begins putting on their case next week.

Schrank repeatedly said he didn't know to a series of questions asked by Chief Deputy Floyd County Prosecutor Steve Owen.

Who won? How long did each game take? Who were the names of your teammates? Who came to play and when? What was the score? What time did each game start? What time did each game end and so forth.

Each time Schrank replied that he didn't know, couldn't remember or that it just wasn't important to him, Owen asked "Why not?"

Schrank's common sense answer gave the prosecution what they wanted: He was there to play basketball, have fun, work out and go home. Details such as those sought by Owen were unimportant, or at least, not why Schrank was there that night, he testified.

But before you call this a slam dunk for the prosecution, consider that the defense says Schrank's testimony was great for them.

"What a great first alibi witness to call," Liell said later. "Because he establishes a beginning time, ending time; he established the Dave sat out one game."

The next alibi busting trump card the prosecution tried to play came from Floyd County Sheriff Randy Hubbard, who showed the jury a video he made.

Using a patrol car with a dashboard mounted camera, Hubbard drove the route from the Georgetown Christian Church gym to Camm's home on Lockhart (yep) Road.

He initially drove several routes but settled on one he believed to be the most likely. It took a little over five minutes (a running clock in the corner of the video shows the time as the patrol car is moving). Hubbard said the distance was 2.8 miles.

On January 6, the Friday before this trial started, WAVE 3 photojournalist John Riley and I drove from the gym to Camm's former home on Lockhart Road. I was in the driver's seat, with J.R. pointing his camera toward the windshield from the passenger side.

We measured it at 2.2 miles to the driveway. It took us about 12 minutes, but that may be because we drove 30-35 miles an hour in order to get video that was usable; you have to drive slower to get footage that doesn't drive the viewer crazy when it's broadcast. We made the trip around 4:30 p.m.; I've used about five seconds of the demonstration in broadcasts to date.

The prosecution's point in showing Sheriff Hubbard's video right after Schrank testified was that the state's theory of the crime is possible.

"As he (Schrank) said, who watches who comes and goes when you're playing basketball," Henderson said. "Who knows whose where? That's not the purpose of those people being there that evening."

"Clearly, the defendant had time to leave and return to the basketball court," Henderson told reporters after testimony for the day had concluded.

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.