Random Thoughts from a Somewhat Fertile Mind -- Week Seven

By James Zambroski

Random Thoughts from a Somewhat Fertile Mind -- Week Seven
Book Learnin' versus O.J.T.

My wife made an interesting point about the difference between scholarly experts and those trained by life's experience. Cheryl has a Ph.d. in heart failure, she teaches and does research at the University of Louisville School of Nursing (heaven help her -- I'm a smoker). Over lunch this weekend, she said, "You know, I know all about how the heart works and what you should do if someone's heart stops, but I'd much rather have an EMT or paramedic do CPR in that situation. They have the experience and have done it over and over."

Is that a good analogy over how the jury might view the Camm blood stain experts? On one hand, you have the prosecution side, replete as it is with former cops who built a career making crime scenes and investigating violent felonies. On the other, the defense blood stain interpreters, whose main authority is derived from books, experiments, seminars and formal education.

Probably the best thing for the defense is that there's no indisputable way to interpret blood stains, which means there's reasonable doubt over how droplets of blood wound up on David Ray Camm's clothing.

It Ain't Just Me

If you've been pleased with any of our coverage of this trial, a lot of the credit goes to a Hoosier, WAVE 3 photojournalist and '92 Ball State graduate Rick Miller.

He's been here since the beginning; I think the bosses sent him to Warrick County because he's so good at "handling" me; the guy's a prince; what makes him the absolute best at his craft is that he, like me, has that innate passion for the story. You can't learn that; you have it or you don't; Rick does, big time. I rely on him in a million ways and he's yet to fail me.

Having said that, I gotta tell you when the day comes that's he's done carrying that camera, he'll probably start a second career at the blackjack table. He's absolutely kicked my behind during our weekly trips down to Casino Aztar, in Evansville, where we go occasionally to blow off steam and maintain our image. Card shark doesn't quite apply. Degenerate gambler? Nah; he's too clean looking, besides, the guy wins, constantly.

All I know is that every time we leave The Boat, Rick's scheming where to dig another hole in his backyard to squirrel away his winnings, while I'm wondering if I can survive the rest of the week on Cheerios and warm water.

The photography challenges at this trial have been significant, since Indiana is one of the few states in the Union that does not allow cameras in the courtroom. Not only that, all witnesses remain under subpoena until after the trial, whether they're likely to testify again or not (most won't). But that does prevent them from speaking on camera once they're off the stand.

Forgive me for saying, but Rick's done a superb job matching up some of my drivel with pictures that make sense.

What It Will Be Like Next Week

On Monday, the last defense witness, a private defense investigator named Gary Dunn, will call on his 28-year career with the FBI to convince the jury that his work on the case proves Camm is innocent. If you want a picture of this guy, go to the dictionary and look up 'private eye;' you'll see Dunn's photo there. Rumbled, a little paunch (as if I should talk), ruddy complexion, shaving brush mustache and darting eyes, this investigator has put together a case that many believe will be Camm's ticket home.

Course the guy hates me, but isn't that the stereotype when it comes to gum shoes and the Fourth Estate?

After that, we'll hear from rebuttal witnesses. This is where each side has one last chance to challenge (i.e. rebut) something said during the course of this trial. Whom will be called remains a mystery; each side saying they needed the weekend to make that decision. But don't look for many or much during the rebuttal. The jury's tired; both sides know it and neither wants to try their patience further with more testimony than absolutely necessary.

Come Monday afternoon, we'll hear from the prosecution and defense lawyers one final time in closing arguments. Each side has been given and hour and a half for their presentations. What they say is not considered evidence but they will try to impress on the jury that they've presented enough to earn a favorable verdict.

Look for Katherine 'Kitty' Liell to hammer again and again at reasonable doubt. She's likely to remind the jury that Camm has nothing to prove, that's he's innocent until the state meets the burden of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that they've failed miserably at doing that. We expect her to call the scientific, blood stain evidence a wash--they have their interpretation; we have ours. That means the case could hinge on the basketball players, the alibi witnesses, several of whom swore under oath that they saw Camm all evening and that he couldn't possibly have left to kill his family and return without being noticed.

Prosecutor Keith Henderson, who will have the last say, since he's the one with the burden of proof, will take the jury through his largely circumstantial case and more than 50 witnesses one step at a time, asking them to connect the dots that he believes points to David Ray Camm as a triple killer.

He'll stress the science and the fact that his experts are positive that the stains on Camm's clothes got there when the gun was fired. He'll hit the defense uncertainty over how the blood could have been transferred (after Jill's death) onto his shirt. He'll attack the alibi witnesses as Camm family members and friends who are biased. And he'll heavily suggest that the motive was to cover Camm's sexual molestation of his daughter.

Outside lawyers tell me that, for the most part, a case can be lost during closing arguments but is rarely won by final statements from the lawyers; the belief being that if you haven't won your case by then, nothing you say at the last will carry you to victory.

There's also a growing consensus that the molestation testimony has already set up grounds for a successful appeal if Camm is convicted again.

If this schedule holds, the jury will return to court Tuesday morning and be instructed as to the law they'll apply in the case. Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth will tell them what Indiana statues require in order for Camm to be found guilty. Final instructions, as they are called, have been agreed to in advance by both sides and the judge.

And then, the 12 jurors and all the evidence (hundreds of photographs,charts, paperwork and physical pieces like Camm's clothes and shoes) will be taken to a room inside the Warrick County Judicial Center, where they will continue their grand debate under guard of a sheriff's deputy, sitting outside.

If they have questions, they'll send a note to Aylsworth, who will remain in his office throughout the deliberations. Questions will be addressed in open court amongst the lawyers first; once a satisfactory answer is crafted, the panel will be called back to the courtroom to have their inquiry answered by the judge, all within the context of the law or what is allowed.

As deliberations stretch into hours, the lawyers will likely retreat to their homes away from home (Henderson and crew, to the Residence Inn; Liell, et.al, to a private rental home in Warrick County). They'll remain available on short notice via phone numbers left with His Honor.

Reporters, families and interested spectators will probably remain at the courthouse. I'm taking a folding stadium seat and stuff to occupy myself during the wait.

When a verdict is reached, the judge will call for extra security, giving all sides and the deputies at least one half hour to assemble before bringing the jury and the verdict into the courtroom.

And then we'll know, you'll know, undoubtedly through an immediate cut in on regular programming at WAVE 3 and NBC.

Where I'm At In All This

Tortured. Obsessed. Having dreams about this case; I dreamt the other night that I was back in Key West, where I used to live, getting ready to get into a hot tub, when all of a sudden, I was standing in the courtroom half undressed, wondering if the judge was going to yell at me.

It's nuts, but I love it. Here at home on a Sunday, when I should be relaxing, I'm writing about it, thinking about it, talking to various Louisville sources about it.

Guilty or innocent? I'm leaning in one direction but I'm not certain, by any means. Heaven knows, I wish I was. Course, I won't tell you what that is until it's over.

Thank the stars I'm not on this jury.