Indiana troopers murder trial excluded exculpatory evidence.
In 2000 an Indiana State trooper was charged with the murder of his wife and two children. At the first trial the prosecutor was allowed to introduce evidence that the trooper had had a number of sexual affairs with other women, and he was convicted. The Indiana Supreme Court granted a new trial and the trooper was convicted for the second time. A new appeal is pending. (See prior LawReader postings at bottom of this page.)
By the time of the second trial the police had arrested an ex-con whose DNA was found at the scene of the murder, and who had been convicted of the murders before the second trial of the state trooper. The trial judge refused to allow introduction of any evidence about the convicted killer in the trooper’s trial.
It has now been disclosed that the convicted killer, Charles Boney had previously bragged to another inmate that he could kill a policeman’s family and set him up for the murder.
Boney refused to testify at the trial of the state trooper, David Camm, and the trial judge refused to allow evidence that the Boney had a foot fetish, which was relevant since the troopers wife’s shoes and stockings had been removed from her dead body.
The Trooper had five alibi witnesses that he was participating in a basketball game with them some miles from the murder scene. Nevertheless he was convicted the second time.
This trial raises serious issues about the court’s rulings on evidentiary matters that were highly relevant to the defense of Camm.
The second prosecutor made very good use of television coverage of the second trial. He appeared almost daily on television bad mouthing the defense case and proclaiming the defendant’s guilt. This prosecution and conviction of David Camm appears highly flawed.
The Courier Journal reported on Nov. 30th the following story:
Boney implicated by inmate Man says murders, frame-up threatened
By Ben Zion Hershberg Reprinted from The Courier-Journal
Less than four months before the murders of David Camm’s wife and two children, Charles Boney vowed to kill a policeman’s family and frame him for the crime, according to an inmate who served time with Boney at an Indiana prison.
Boney and Camm, a former Indiana state trooper, were convicted in separate trials earlier this year of killing Camm’s wife Kimberly, 35, and the Camm children, Bradley, 7, and Jill, 5, on the night of Sept. 28, 2000.
The statement by inmate Ronnie Weldon was never heard by the Camm or Boney juries, in part because of the rules governing testimony and evidence permitted at trials.
Camm’s attorneys say they will make that an issue in the appeal of his conviction, which they are expected to file with the Indiana Supreme Court early next year.
“It’s our whole defense that Boney committed the murders himself,” said Stacy Uliana, one of Camm’s attorneys. “The judge tied our hands.”
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson, who prosecuted both cases, declined to comment on Weldon’s statement.
Boney’s attorney, Patrick Renn, said it is “completely unbelievable.” He said no jury would believe a man could commit “a horrendous crime like this and have everything fall into place” to frame someone else.
Weldon, 61, met Boney while both were inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility near Peru, Ind. Both Weldon, who previously had been convicted of murder, and Boney were serving 20-year sentences for armed robbery.
In interviews with The Courier-Journal and with investigators for both the prosecution and defense in the Camm case, Weldon described a conversation he said he had with Boney in June 2000.
Weldon said he often chatted with Boney when Boney would come to him to buy candy bars with his winnings from prison poker games.
On this occasion, Weldon said, Boney was upset after a confrontation with members of a prison gang. Boney liked to brag about how tough and smart he was, Weldon said, and he was talking big about his goal after getting out of prison.
That goal, Weldon said, was to frame a policeman for the murder of the officer’s family.
“He said he could blow the whole family away,” Weldon recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, I’m capable of that.’ ”
He said he had all but forgotten about Boney’s statement until February 2005, after he had been transferred to a Kentucky prison from Indiana.
On a television set in his cell block, Weldon said he saw an interview with Boney about a sweat shirt that had been found at the Camm murder scene. That sweat shirt had been identified as Boney’s after his DNA was found on it.
At that moment, Weldon said, he thought Boney “did what he said he was going to do.”
Weldon said he attempted to reach Camm’s lawyers to tell them about Boney’s statement. Unable to locate them, he told prison authorities, and they notified Henderson’s office, which sent investigators to talk to Weldon in July 2005.
Camm’s lawyers learned about Weldon’s statement from the prosecutor’s office, and their investigator interviewed Weldon that October.
In a December 2005 hearing, Uliana and co-counsel Katharine Liell argued that Weldon’s statement should be presented to the Camm jury.
But Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth, who presided over the Camm trial after it was moved from Floyd County, ruled the statement to be inadmissible. He said the statement was just evidence of Boney’s “bad character” that the defense didn’t successfully connect with the Camm killings.
Since Boney was refusing to testify at Camm’s trial, there would be no way he could be questioned about the statement and others he’d allegedly made before a jury. Thus, Aylsworth concluded, the statement also constituted hearsay.
Camm’s attorneys believe the judge erred.
“The only reason a judge can exclude evidence someone else did it is if it’s irrelevant or too speculative or too far out there,” Uliana said.
Had there been no other evidence of Boney’s involvement, Weldon’s statement clearly would have been excluded as too speculative, Uliana said.
“But he’s at the scene,” Uliana said, citing the sweat shirt and the fact his palm print was found on a vehicle.
Boney admitted in a statement to investigators that he was at the scene, but he denied participating in the slayings.
Boney’s previous criminal history and the physical evidence tying him to the scene support the admission of Weldon’s statement and other evidence, Uliana said.
The rules of evidence that Aylsworth cited are trumped by Camm’s constitutional right to defend himself, she said.
Renn, however, isn’t convinced by such arguments.
He said he believes Weldon was hoping that his statement to investigators would help him in the future, perhaps at a parole hearing. And Weldon might have had a personal or racial dislike for Boney, who is African American, Renn said.
No matter what the motivation, Weldon’s statement is ridiculous, Renn said.
“You can’t plan on committing a murder and having an officer take the rap for it,” he said.
In the interview with The Courier-Journal, Weldon denied ever knowing Camm or having any reason to talk about Boney’s statement other than “to come clean.”
Since the death of one of his sons several years ago, and continuing with a diagnosis of prostate cancer earlier this year, Weldon said he is attempting to be honest.
“I’m not going to benefit from this,” he said.
Weldon is serving a life sentence at the Green River Correctional Facility in Central City, Ky., for a 1970 murder and armed robbery conviction in a Union County case. He was paroled in 1976.
At the time he met Boney, he was serving a 20-year sentence for a series of armed robberies in the Evansville area. After serving his Indiana sentence, he was returned to Kentucky for violating his 1976 parole.
Camm was convicted of killing his wife and two children in March 2002, but the verdict was thrown out by the Indiana Court of Appeals. In an August 2004 decision, the court ruled that the jury was unfairly prejudiced against Camm by testimony from a dozen women who said they had affairs with him or had been propositioned by him.
Before Camm’s retrial, Henderson filed charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder against Boney.
Tried separately from Camm, Boney was convicted in Floyd Circuit Court in January and sentenced to 225 years in prison. Camm was sentenced in Warrick County Superior Court to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Boney is appealing his conviction.
Reporter Ben Hershberg can be reached at (812) 949-4032.
In a prior LawReader posted we wrote:
Indiana Judge limits introduction of ”prior bad acts” of witness who is “co-defendant” being tried separatly. Ruling guts defense of ex-state Trooper.
Indiana 404(b) applies to the “accused” and to “witnesses”, but the party being protected by the court’s suppression ruling is neither.
See: LawReader Comment citing Indiana’s Evidence Rule Did the judge misapply a rule intended for the protection of a defendant in order to protect other suspect? Indiana’s Rule 404(b) is clearly broad enough to have allowed introduction of the “foot fetish” evidence of Boney at Camm’s trial.
See: full text of INDIANA RULE OF EVIDENCE 404
Judge deals setback to Camm defense
Co-defendant’s past can’t be evidence
By Ben Zion Hershberg Reprinted from The Courier-Journal
BOONVILLE, Ind. — Prosecutors in the murder case against former Indiana state trooper David Camm won an important victory yesterday when a judge ruled that information about his co-defendant’s crimes cannot be used as evidence.
Camm’s lawyers have argued that robberies committed by Charles Boney — and the foot fetish to which he admitted after a 1989 arrest in Bloomington, Ind., — explain details at the murder scene.
They say those include the fact that the shoes of Kimberly Camm, David Camm’s wife, were placed on the roof of her Ford Bronco in the garage, that her feet were bruised and battered, and that her pants were removed.
Kimberly Camm and the Camms’ two children were fatally shot.
Steve Owen, Floyd County’s chief deputy prosecutor, contended at a hearing yesterday that Boney’s previous crimes weren’t at all like the Camm killings.
“I don’t see how you could take an armed robbery in 1992 and say that links you to the murders of a woman and two children in Georgetown in 2000,” Owen said.
Warrick County Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth agreed, saying that Boney’s crimes are “not strikingly similar” to the slaying of Camm’s family.
Those prior crimes, Aylsworth said, “did not occur in a single-family residence, not one involved murder, not one involved violence against a child.”
He ruled that “the prior crimes committed or allegedly committed by Mr. Boney cannot be admitted” under Indiana’s rules of evidence. Those rules prohibit the introduction of evidence about previous bad actions that aren’t directly related to a case being tried.
Aylsworth also denied most of the Camm defense’s other requests for statements by and about Boney to be admitted.
Owen said after the hearing that Aylsworth’s decisions were “a big victory for us,” keeping the case focused on the killings and not on Boney’s previous crimes.
Camm, 41, was convicted nearly four years ago of shooting his 35-year-old wife and their children, Bradley, 7, and Jill, 5, at their Georgetown-area home in September 2000.
The convictions were overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals in August 2004, and Camm was charged again.
His retrial is scheduled to begin Jan. 9 in Warrick Superior Court. The case was moved there because of extensive publicity in Floyd County, where the killings occurred and where the first trial took place.
Boney, 36, a felon who was released from prison three months before the deaths, was charged in March after authorities linked him to the scene through a sweat shirt and palm print. His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 9 in Floyd Circuit Court.
Both men are charged with three counts of murder and with conspiracy to commit murder. They are being held in the Floyd County Jail.
Katharine Liell, one of Camm’s lawyers, began yesterday’s hearing by staking out grounds she will use to defend him.
“His defense will be that he did not commit the crimes, that Charles Boney did,” Liell said.
“The identification of Boney’s obsession with shoes, feet and the legs of women explains the crime and the crime scene, and they are crucial to David Camm’s defense.”
Stacy Uliana, another Camm attorney, said Boney made statements to investigators in which he admitted putting Kimberly Camm’s shoes on the roof of her sport utility vehicle.
Based on his statements to police after his 1989 arrest in Bloomington for stealing the shoes of several women, and based on statements by others, “he has a powerful fetish,” Uliana said.
She said the defense doesn’t believe Boney killed the Camm family because of his foot fetish. But he had seen Kimberly Camm in New Albany and had been attracted to her because of his foot fetish, Uliana said.
The defense believes that Boney’s planned assault and robbery went awry and turned into fatal shootings when Kimberly Camm resisted, Uliana said.
Camm’s lawyers also presented a report by Gary Dunn, a former FBI agent and now a private investigator, that described a number of similarities between the Camm killings and the robberies for which Boney was arrested in the 1980s and 1990s.
Owen questioned Dunn about his training and expertise in creating such reports based on criminal psychology. Dunn acknowledged that he didn’t have specific training in creating such psychological profiles.
But he said that with his 27 years of work for the FBI, his education in criminology and his understanding of the “totality” of the crime, he was comfortable linking Boney’s previous crimes with the scene.
Do you know of any case of someone turned on by part of a female’s anatomy committing a murder because of being sexually attracted to that part of a person’s anatomy?” Owen asked.
“I am not aware of any other case,” Dunn said.
He said he wasn’t arguing that Boney “killed people for a foot fetish. He doesn’t kill for fetishes per se. That doesn’t mean a crime that was planned for one reason wasn’t executed badly.”
On other matters, Aylsworth put sharp limits on the admissibility of statements that Boney made to investigators because he has said through his lawyer that he won’t testify at the trial.
And the judge ruled that the results of a lie-detector test Boney took can’t be presented because the Indiana Supreme Court has held that such tests are unreliable.
Sam Lockhart, Camm’s uncle and a leader of efforts to exonerate him, acknowledged that yesterday’s rulings are a setback. He said the defense isn’t discouraged because it can still present physical evidence that Boney was at the scene.