LEBANON, IN (WAVE) - Rob Stites called his notes "brainstorming," a place to collect his thoughts while investigating the murders of David Camm's wife and their two young children on September 28, 2000. But those notes included a conclusion that Camm could have gotten blood spots on his t-shirt, only as a result of high velocity impact spatter; namely, that he was so close by when at least one victim was shot that only he could have been the shooter.
It was the linchpin in the Probable Cause Affidavit that led to Camm's arrest for murder three days later after the killings. Tuesday morning, Stites found himself answering for it as the first defense witness in Camm's third trial.
"In hindsight, I would have kept my mouth shut," Stites told Special Prosecutor Stan Levco during cross-examination.
Stites became part of the Camm murder investigation two days after the crimes, when then-Floyd County Prosecutor Stan Faith hired his boss, Rod Englert, an independent specialist blood-pattern analysis and crime scene reconstruction. Englert was unavailable initially so he sent Stites to take pictures and document evidence.
Camm's team maintains that Faith misrepresented both the credentials and findings of Stiles when gathering and evaluating evidence; leading to miscalculations, erroneous conclusions and a rush to judgment.
"I had done a lot of those (crime scene reconstructions) with Mr. Englert, but I don't know what I would define myself as," Stites told the jury.
"You'd read only one book on blood stain analysis, and you'd not had any formal forensic training," said defense counsel Stacey Uliana.
Stites conceded that he had spent hours detailing what he believed to be blood stains and blood patterns on the Camm's garage door, even requesting that it be taken off its hinges to be tested. The testing revealed no blood, only residue from gasoline or oil.
Stites stated that he had run out of phenolphthalein, the chemical used as a presumptive test to rule out substances suspected of being blood.
"But (ISP crime scene technician) Lynn Scamahorn noted she was with you, and that she had it (phenol)," Uliana asked.
"I could have asked her, but I don't remember," Stites responded.
Stites' notes also indicated he believed that the killer had tried to mop up the blood on the garage floor using bleach. That belief prompted the testing of a mop and a drain leading to a septic tank. Both tests came back negative for blood.
Stites' did use phenolphthalein to capture some of the blood spots noted on Camm's t-shirt. But at the time of Camm's arrest, DNA testing had not confirmed the blood was that of his 5-year-old daughter, Jill.
Stites' phenol pre-testing also indicated that two spots on Camm's jacket could be blood. But Uliana told the jury Scamahorn was unable to find any DNA there after running 17 tests.
Stites reviewed the gray sweatshirt found underneath the body of Camm's 7-year-old son Bradley. However, his notes failed to mention the name "Backbone" found in the shirt's back collar.
Almost four-and-one-half years later, DNA testing revealed that the shirt belonged to serial felon Charles Darnell Boney, and that "Backbone" was the nickname Boney bore while in prison. Boney was convicted of the Camm murders in 2006, and is serving a 225-year prison sentence.
The blood dots on the t-shirt figured prominently in the Probable Cause Affidavit that Faith drafted as the warrant for Camm's arrest on October 1, 2000. Faith prepared the affidavit prior to Englert reviewing Stites' conclusions. Stites indicated his only contact with Englert prior to Camm's arrest was a telephone call seeking confirmation that he'd identified the characteristics of high impact spatter correctly.
"He told me I had," Stites testified.
Those conclusions also figured prominently in how Faith presented Stites' credentials and findings in Camm's first trial in 2002.
"He (Faith) kept calling me ‘Professor', which made me uncomfortable," Stites told the jury. "I thought he was exaggerating a bit."
Stites clarified his role during testimony in Camm's second trial. But such claims did not preclude presenting himself as a crime scene reconstructionist to a jury hearing another criminal case two months later.
"Were you exaggerating then?" Uliana asked.
"My roles were different," Stites answered. "During (Camm's) second trial I was referring to my role in the first."
Stites also conceded errors in the Curriculum Vitae (detailing academic qualifications and experience) presented to jurors in Camm's first two trials. They indicated Stites was pursuing Master's or Doctorate degrees inn Fluid Analysis.
"Saying that you had a course in Fluid Dynamics, you lied," Uliana said.
"Yes, and I regret that," Stites replied.
Sam Lockhart, Camm's uncle, was the first witness to establish Camm's alibi that he was at church playing basketball when the murders occurred. Lockhart told the jury that Camm already was on the court when he arrived at Georgetown Community Church sometime between 7 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.
"David asked me to sit out the second game so he could work on getting his heart rate up," Lockhart said.
Timelines are critical to Camm's defense and for prosecutors seeking to establish that he had a window of opportunity to commit the crimes. Lockhart's testimony Tuesday was more precise than in Camm's previous trials.
"I know I was playing at about 8 o'clock," said Lockhart, "because I looked at the clock."
"And at a time when it wasn't important, you were saying precisely what you are saying today," lead defense counsel Richard Kammen emphasized.
"And at a time when it is important, this is the first time you mention the clock," prosecutor Todd Meyer countered.
Lockhart acknowledged that at six of the ten men playing basketball that night either are blood relatives or his employees, Camm's co-workers.
Nevertheless, prosecutors assert that some of them will testify that players that Lockhart subbed for Camm in a game that began at 7:30 p.m., affording Camm time to leave the church gym, drive four miles home, kill his wife and children and return to solidify his alibi.
"I couldn't have been playing at 7:30," Lockhart said.
"And if other players say different, they would be lying," Meyer asked. "Is your truth the only truth?"
"That's the only truth I know," Lockhart answered, who added Camm was still on the courts when he departed just before 9 p.m.
Jurors asked whether Lockhart ever lost sight of his nephew either while waiting to play or when substituting on court. Lockhart told them that he had his back to the court occasionally, but saw his nephew talking to a mutual friend, and running along the side court.
Lockhart testified that arrived at his nephew's home, among the first responding officers, after learning from relatives that "something bad" had happened to Camm's children. He found Camm leaning against the back of his pickup truck and rocking back and forth, distraught.
"David just screamed this loud, primal scream," Lockhart said, fighting his own tears. "I wanted to help him, but another officer just told me to let him ‘kick it out.'"
Lockhart told jurors he saw no blood on Camm's mouth. Camm has insisted that he performed CPR on his 7-year-old son Bradley, shortly before he reported the crimes.
Lockhart would be Camm's chauffeur for the three days following the murders; helping make burial arrangements, and obtain clothing for the funerals. Lockhart told the court he was more than Camm's uncle and employer, saying he considered his nephew a son, and Camm's children, his grandchildren.
When jurors questioned, Lockhart said he'd spent "past six figures" for lawyers to defend Camm in his first two trials. He'd sold one company in Kentucky, and mortgaged a home.
"I've invested my time, my money, my life," Lockhart told jurors. "I would not have invested one penny, if I believe David had killed Kim, Brad and Jill."
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