Camm trial 10/9: Prosecutors smack Touch DNA favorable to Camm as unreliable
LEBANON, IN (WAVE) - Prosecutors told jurors Wednesday that the Netherlands-based lab who provided new DNA evidence in David Camm's defense isn't fully-certified and gave wrong answers on proficiency tests the last two years.
"Didn't they (other labs) find sequences you didn't," Special Prosecutor Stan Levco asked forensic scientist Richard Eikelenboom.
"Yes, but this is not a mistake," Eikelenboom replied. "If the results are the same, you can't always blame the analyst." Rather, Eikelenhoom holds the test kit's manufacturer responsible.
But the same manufacturer supplied test kits that Eikelenboom's firm used to recover and process deposits of Touch DNA; samples previously considered too small to reveal their donors' identities. Camm's team claims those samples prove that serial felon Charles Darnell Boney had a much greater role in the murders of Camm's wife and their two young children.
"He physically attacked Dave's family," defense counsel Stacy Uliana told reporters Tuesday. "So now what's the state's theory? That Boney attacked Dave's family, and Dave said 'scoot over, let me shoot them?'"
DNA testing tied Boney to the murders after Camm's first conviction was overturned. He was tried separately and is serving a 225 year sentence.
Uliana's remarks came after Eikelenboom had told jurors that testing by his labs suggested Boney left skin-cell DNA on the shirt of Camm's five year old daughter Jill, on his wife Kim's sweater-blouse and underwear, and in her fingernails.
Tests also revealed Kim Camm's DNA on the sleeves of Boney's prison-issued sweatshirt. Factor her other injuries, and the DNA evidence offers proof that she and Boney struggled before she was shot Eikelenboom testified. Prosecutors suggested that Eikelenboom's laboratory, or other investigators, could have tainted the results by mishandling the clothing.
"If they were all put on the same surface to be photographed, could that be a case for contamination?" asked Levco.
"Depends on the source," Eikelenboom answered.
"If it's problematic, that's not good for the defense," Levco said.
Camm's team attacked the claim head-on; Eikelenboom agreeing that cross-contamination was a "remote" possibility, given the rare pattern of Boney's DNA sequence.
Eikelenboom conceded that an associate performed many of the more than 350 tests his labs conducted in the Camm case. But he told jurors that he reviewed her findings before certifying them as accurate. The associate is the firm's only other DNA analyst.
Levco further attacked Eikelenboom's credibility by portraying his firm's laboratories in the Netherlands and in Colorado as a converted barn and a remodeled garage.
"We've put more than $300,000 worth of equipment into them," Eikelenboom replied.
Eikelenboom's wife founded Independent Forensic Services (IFS) in 2002. He joined the firm in 2005 after twelve years as an analyst for the National Lab, a Netherland's equivalent to the FBI's National Laboratory. Eikelenboom conceded that IFS' Colorado lab is not accredited yet, and that he pulled back from efforts to recertify its facilities in the Netherlands after determining that the process was political. But he retains a credential that Camm's team claims is more valuable; a designation as an Expert for Life in Dutch courts.
Eikelenboom's explanation, and his attempts at translation from his native language, prompted Camm to smile and chuckle. It's the only lighthearted emotions Camm has displayed publicly in his third trial.
Thus far, IFS has billed more than $350,000, but Eikelenboom told jurors he would have preferred more time for testing, citing "interesting possibilities." Prosecutors say he needs to explain why tests revealed that another section of Jill Camm's shirt revealed DNA from "five unknown males."
"To be honest, there's probably more," Eikelenboom replied.
Camm's team maintains those deposits could have been left when her daughter played earlier in the day, or as investigators removed her body from the crime scene.
Jurors wanted to know whether investigators checked for DNA on Kim Camm's neck, and whether violent acts would make Touch DNA easier to find.
"There were no samples taken from the neck (initially), Eikelenboom answered. "But the more force that's applied, the more DNA will come out."
Late Wednesday afternoon, jurors heard from retired FBI agent Gary Dunn, now serving as the Camm team's investigator. Dunn testified that phone records showed Boney talked with the Floyd County Prosecutor's office almost three dozen times in the two-and-a-half weeks prior to his arrest March 4, 2005.
Dunn said the calls came to and from a phone registered to the stepfather of Boney's fiancée. Dunn also examined records of every home phone and pay phone near Boney's home in the weeks prior to September 28, 2000. Boney has claimed that he sold two untraceable guns to Camm, and was close enough to hear Camm kill his family with the second weapon.
"There's absolutely no evidence of him calling David Camm, or David calling him," Dunn testified.
Prosecutors countered that Camm and Boney could have used phones called drop or burn phones - pre-paid cell phones whose records are untraceable.
Jurors won't get to hear what else Dunn claims to have uncovered; that Boney rang up more than $1,300 in charges to a phone-sex charges in the months prior to the murders.
Camm's team argued that it needed to refute prosecutors' claims that Camm had staged the murder scene to look like a sex crime. However, Indiana's Supreme Court and Special Judge Jon Dartt have ruled that Boney's other crimes aren't similar enough to the murders to make jurors aware of them.
"My prior ruling stands," Dartt said.
But Dartt is considering whether to allow mention of Boney's attempts to escape jail after arrest. Camm's team claims prosecutors opened the door by suggesting that Boney had complied with prosecutors fully before and during his arrest. That possibility left Camm's relatives smiling, and hopeful.
"You wonder how he (Eikelenboom) was going over, it's complicated," said Nelson Lockhart, Camm's uncle. "But you could tell by the jury's questions, they were paying attention."
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