LEBANON, Ind. — The third murder trial of a former Indiana state trooper charged with killing his wife and two children began Thursday with a spotlight on mistakes made during the initial investigation.
Stan Levco, the third prosecutor to press murder charges against 49-year-old David Camm, said investigators made a serious error in the days after the September 2000 shooting in ignoring DNA evidence that pointed to the presence of another man at the crime scene — Charles Boney, who had been released from prison only months earlier.
"This was a serious mistake to overlook this DNA sample," the special prosecutor told jurors during opening arguments.
Boney is serving a 225-year sentence in the triple murder. Prosecutors maintain he conspired with Camm to kill Camm's family — wife Kimberly Camm, 7-year-old son Brad Camm and 5-year-old daughter Jill Camm.
David Camm has been convicted of murder twice, and both convictions were overturned after judges ruled prosecutors used unsupported evidence to sway jurors.
When defense attorney Richard Kammen mentioned Boney's foot fetish, Levco angrily moved for a mistrial, saying it broke rules agreed upon by both sides. In a fiery exchange, Kammen argued that Levco had opened the door to barred evidence in his own opening argument.
Special Judge Jon Darrt allowed the trial to continue, warning Kammen not to cross that line again and telling jurors to ignore the reference.
Levco's opening argument and first witnesses focused on what police found in the garage of Camm's Georgetown home when they arrived minutes after Camm phoned the state police post where he had worked and told them to "send everybody." Camm had left the state police four months before his family was killed.
Much of that testimony revolved around so-called "blood spatter" evidence, which prosecutors at all three trials have argued was blowback from the gun Camm used to kill the family.
The defense has maintained Camm got blood on his shirt when he attempted CPR on his young son after finding the bodies upon returning home from a pickup basketball game.
Most of the testimony on Thursday afternoon came from Sgt. James Niemeyer, a retired Indiana State Police evidence technician who said his superiors told him to keep quiet when he expressed reservations about the competence of the prosecution's blood-spatter expert.
Niemeyer said the expert didn't bring along a kit with which to test blood, collected evidence that tests showed wasn't blood and didn't seem to have much experience at crime scenes.
Some evidence that normally would have been tested at the southern Indiana state police lab that Niemeyer oversaw was instead taken by prosecutors elsewhere, he testified under cross-examination by defense attorney Stacy Uliana.
Kammen told jurors during opening statements evidence that could have helped clear Camm had been overlooked in the previous trials.
"We'll ask you to be heroes. We'll ask you to have the courage to say there was a rush to judgment," he told the jury.
Camm, 49, has spent most of the last 13 years behind bars. In order to find an impartial jury, this trial was moved to Lebanon, about 25 miles northwest of Indianapolis and more than 100 miles from the Louisville, Ky., suburbs where the slayings occurred.