February 22, 2006 - Day 33: A Jury On Edge

By James Zambroski

February 22nd, 2006 - Day 33
A Jury on Edge

More indication Wednesday that the David Ray Camm jury is getting tired and a wee bit cranky.

Shortly before the noon lunch break, the panel passed a note to Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth.

Many wondered if they had a question for a witness, as has been the practice with such communication during this trial.

But after reading it, Aylsworth told the audience that the jury had complaints about being distracted.

The jury, through the judge, requested that members of the press and public observing the trial restrict trips to and from the courtroom; apparently movement in and out, plus closing of the door, is annoying them.

The jurors also asked that cell phones be turned completely off. A ringing cell is a rarity, generally someone who has forgotten to silence the device, but apparently even buzzing or vibrating phones are catching the attention of the 15 people (12 jurors and three alternates) sitting in the box hearing the case.

Finally, the group said they were bothered by one female spectator bedeviled by a chronic cough. The woman has been hacking periodically (but not constantly) during the trial. She promptly stepped outside.

Meanwhile, the defense presented another blood stain expert who testified that tiny droplets on David Camm's T-shirt got there from transfer, rather than the high velocity impact spatter opined by the prosecution.

Paulette Sutton, the Director of Investigations for the Memphis and Shelby County Medical Examiners Office, told the jury that she came to her conclusion after conducting a peer review of Paul Kish's work, the first defense expert who called the stains transfer.

She testified that Kish, a colleague and business associate, had sent her photographs taken by McCrone Associates and others showing three or four dots of blood sticking to Camm's shirt. She said he asked her to review them and give an opinion of their origin. Sutton testified she knew nothing of Kish's opinion and little of the case.

Peer review has been a signature difference between groups of experts testifying in this case. The defense says a second opinion supports the work of their experts as being more professional and scientific.

The prosecution has gone after that belief, however, noting that the peer reviewers for the defense are friends, colleagues and business associates; none of the peer reviews was done blindly or by experts not known to the person requesting it, they allege.

The difference in opinions on the T-shirt stains goes to the heart of the case against Camm.

Transferred blood supports Camm's assertions that his shirt became soiled after he came in contact with daughter Jill Camm when he found her shot to death in the back seat of the family's Bronco on September 28, 2000.

High velocity impact spatter, according to prosecution experts, can only mean the blood got on the shirt by blow back from gunfire, meaning Camm had to be four feet or less away from Jill when she was shot to death.

And the prosecution has alleged that Camm's own statements to police -- that he didn't believe he ever touched his daughter -- contradicts the transfer theory.

Camm's attorneys don't argue with the written police reports -- other than to characterize the entire investigation as shoddy -- but say at other times not written about, Camm equivocated, saying he was uncertain whether he touched Jill or not that night. He told police he was certain the unfortunate child was already dead when he observed the head wound inflicted by gunfire.

Under cross-examination, Sutton, as have the other experts, said she was uncertain as to how exactly the transfer took place. She told the jury she believes that blood droplets accumulated on Jill Camm's hair are the likely source, but she was not able to say exactly how that transferred to Camm's shirt.

"Our experts will not stretch the truth," said Katherine 'Kitty' Liell. "They won't stretch the science; they will give an opinion that's within the science to the best of their ability."

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson told reporters later that the lack of explanation is telling and that he believes the jury wants to know the specifics of how the transfer occurred.

"I want someone to tell me and tell this jury how you can transfer eight, or in their case, three one millimeter, which is very small, or less, size blood stains," he told reporters. "Where that can be transferred in a violent crime scene."

Liell says that the expert opinion that the blood is transfer is sufficient and the subjectivity of blood stain analysis preventing an exact blow-by-blow description of the transfer speaks to the integrity of her experts.

Also on Wednesday, the jury heard from the first of Camm's basketball alibi witnesses.

Brothers Martin and Jeff Dickey testified they were with Camm the night of the murders, playing pick up basketball at the Georgetown Christian Church.

While acknowledging that they couldn't account for Camm's whereabouts minute to minute inside the building, they testified they had not seen him leave nor did they notice any blood on his shirt, shoes or shorts.