Court reporter can’t recall certain details of evidence examination
By Maureen Hayden CNHI Statehouse Bureau
LEBANON, Ind. —
Jurors in the third murder trial of David Camm sat through another day of complex scientific testimony in a case that continues to pit forensic experts against each other.
On Tuesday, a private DNA analyst called by the prosecution as a rebuttal witness, said the defense team’s “touch DNA” expert who testified last week was practicing bad science when he concluded he found evidence that pointed away from Camm as the prime suspect in the killings of Camm’s wife and children.
Norah Rudin, who specializes in DNA analysis, said she was “shocked” by the conclusions reached by defense expert Richard Eikelenboom because his methods were “inherently unreliable.”
Eikelenboom, a touch DNA expert from Holland, testified last week that he found partial DNA profiles of another man, Charles Boney, on clothing found at the crime scene, including on the underwear of Camm’s wife, Kimberly. Eikelenboom’s testimony is seen by the defense as critical to proving their client’s innocence.
Camm is on trial for the third time in the September 2000 murders of his wife and children, Brad, 7, and Jill, 5, who were found shot to death in the garage of their Floyd County home. Camm’s two previous convictions were overturned.
Prosecutors contend Camm shot his family while Boney — a serial felon who’d Camm met playing basketball before the murders — stood nearby. The defense argues that Boney, in prison on a 225-year sentence for his role in the killings, acted alone.
Rudin was scornful of Eikelenboom’s testing methods, at one point saying that Eikelenboom’s previous experiences testifying as a forensic scientist in other cases didn’t make him an expert. She said he failed to meet testing standards set by other forensic science “authorities” in the U.S.
Rudin was particularly critical of the small amount of trace DNA — skin cells left behind by touch — that Eikelenboom used in his tests. And she said the DNA probability statistics that Eikelenboom used to point to Boney as the perpetrator were faulty.
Among the issues that arose Tuesday were questions about how clothing found at the crime scene was later handled by court personnel. It’s significant because several prosecution experts have raised the possibility that the clothing could have been inadvertently contaminated with Boney’s DNA during or the after the initial investigation that lead to Camm’s arrest 13 years ago. On the stand Tuesday, Rudin said DNA was easily transferable from one item to another simply though a person’s touch.
The prosecution called a Floyd County court reporter, Dianna Borden, to testify about how she handled the crime scene exhibits, including the clothing, during Camm’s first murder trial in 2002. She said followed court procedures at the time by wearing gloves when she removed the clothing from evidence bags to lay out on tables for the jury to review in private while it was deliberating a verdict.
But Borden said she couldn’t remember if jurors wore protective gloves while looking at the clothing and didn’t know if any jurors touched or moved the clothing. She also said that after the first trial was over, she laid the clothing out on a carpeted floor to take photographs of it. She wore protective gloves, she said, but couldn’t remember if she laid a clothing item down on the same spot where another clothing item had been.
The final witness called was an AT&T store manager who testified about Kim Camm’s cellphone records. Information on the AT&T billing statement make it look like Kim Camm made a phone call on the night of her death, after the time that prosecutors said she was killed by her husband. The defense believes it’s evidence that Boney killed Kim Camm and her children just minutes before David Camm arrived at their Georgetown home.
But the AT&T manager said the record is misleading because what looks like outgoing calls on the billing statement are actually incoming calls. The prosecution is contending that the call in question was made to Kim Camm’s phone from a friend who left a voice mail message, unaware that Kim Camm was already dead.
The rebuttal testimony is expected to wrap up this week, with closing statements tentatively scheduled to begin Monday. The trial began in mid-August. It was moved to Boone County to avoid having a jury that had been exposed to the massive publicity that surrounded the first two trials.