By James Zambroski
February 17th, 2006: Random Thoughts From a Somewhat Fertile Mind -- Week 6
Jurors and the Experts:
Just a day or two ago I wondered if the jury had gotten sick of hearing from the so-called blood stain experts in this case, even though microscopic dots of blood and tissue are about the only hard evidence against David Ray Camm. We may have gotten an answer to that imponderable on Friday. After a day and a half of testimony from Barton Epstein, the defense star blood stain expert, the jury asked 17 questions. One in particular may be the panel's comment on expert testimony. They asked if they, the jury, could look at swatches of Camm's clothing that contain the biological specimens for themselves, through a microscope.
They won't be able to do that, but does it say they're unsatisfied with what they're being told by the experts? It's obvious they want to see this stuff with their own eyes, but of course, without the training, experience and background, what does that accomplish? Under the rules of law, they are required to decide if the evidence in the form of testimony from prosecution and defense witnesses is credible. One has to wonder if at this stage in the trial, they're comfortable in doing that, or if they've already made up their mind.
A Genteel Fight Versus A Street Brawl
It was the courtroom version of a bare knuckles street brawl that led to the defense requesting a mistrial on Friday. With Epstein on the stand, Keith Henderson launched a withering cross examination of the defense scholar, attacking everything from Epstein's business associations, his integrity and finally the core of his theories that Camm is innocent. It was at once fascinating and difficult to watch, like a multi-car pile up at a NASCAR race, a bench clearing brawl at a hockey game or the proverbial train wreck analogy everybody refers to in situations like this.
Henderson spent about a half hour establishing the relationship between Epstein and his business partner, Terry Laber. Bottom line there is that if you hire one, you hire both. They review each others work. They both signed the report issued in this case about their findings. Epstein made it clear he and Laber are attached at the hip, professional Siamese twins when it comes to blood stain analysis and experts for hire.
The prosecutor then believed he had what he needed to move in with a one-two combination. He introduced testimony Laber gave in the first Camm trial that seemed to contradict opinions being advanced by Epstein now in Warrick County.
The defense vigorously objected because Laber wasn't on the stand and wasn't even scheduled to testify. But the judge allowed it, denying the mistrial motion, because it was the defense who initially introduced the report both men signed into evidence.
It was a breathing taking moment in this trial, watching Henderson pummel this guy all afternoon, even if the defense believed they rehabilitated their guy later after additional questioning.
But what would you expect when the subject is the murders of three beautiful people and the accused is their husband and father? How else would it be when the witness is the star of their case trying to prove his innocence?
Afterwards, the complaints of defense attorney Stacy Uliana seemed weak.
"They're twisting what happened in the first trial to benefit them here," she told reporters. "And they're doing it when nobody here can defend against it."
"What we've got going on is an unfair characterization that we can't defend against," she said.
Maybe she should have brought a baseball bat to use on Henderson (he didn't hesitate using a verbal Louisville Slugger himself), or, as Sean Connery said in the film "The Untouchables", you don't "bring a knife to a gun fight."
What's Next For The Defense
Defense attorney Katherine 'Kitty' Liell expects to close her case this Friday. Before she does, we expect to hear from Camm's basketball alibi witnesses, a scientist who will explain how all those brash shavings got on Camm's clothing and more testimony from Camm's family.
And For The Prosecution
During Epstein's cross, Henderson accused him of politicking his views on the case to a couple of prosecution witnesses, principally Bill Chapin and Indiana State Police Sgt. Dean Marks. Epstein semi-denied those assertions, but we expect Henderson will recall those witnesses, who will say, in Marks's case, that Epstein warned him to lay off the Camm trial.
We might also hear from Marcia McCloud, Kimberly Camm's best friend, who will return to Boonville from Florida and testify how unhappy Mrs. Camm was in her marriage. Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth initially denied a motion to allow her to testify but changed that after the defense brought in testimony about how happy the Camm marriage was.
For anyone who cares, I'll be a guest on the Joe Elliott Show on WHAS radio 840 on Monday night, from 9:00 to 10:00. Three guesses (the first two don't count) on what we'll talk about. Gimme a call.