24 October 2013
The jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” in the third and final trial of David Camm who allegedly murdered his wife and two children on 28 September 2000. Camm had twice been convicted but both convictions were overturned on appeal because of improper actions by the prosecution.
The power of a prosecutor is nearly unchecked. I have heard an estimate that the prosecution of Camm has cost Indiana taxpayers around $5,000,000. Think about the money spent going after former president, Bill Clinton. It has not been uncommon for federal prosecutors to pressure defendants into accepting guilty pleas by expressing the willingness to spend a million dollars to get a conviction. Prosecutors have the money to do it and face no consequences should they fail. This is why it is so important that we have informed, ethical juries who can render the proper verdict. This is also why every prosecution should be resolved by those jurors. Sadly, the jurors who sacrificed so much to be a part of this trial got paid so little.
To better understand a verdict it is helpful to know the standard of proof. In a criminal prosecution it is the highest – beyond a reasonable doubt. This is not beyond all doubt but if there is a doubt that seems highly probable then a juror must vote to acquit. In the quantum world there is a probability that the Earth may not rotate to the East tomorrow. I can quite assuredly tell you that around 7:00am tomorrow the Sun will appear on the eastern horizon just as has always occurred – so I think. But I cannot say so definitely. The standard in a criminal prosecution is not so high though. A juror should be thoroughly convinced that the prosecution's assertion is the truth and that alternatives are not at all likely although still possible. Judges have generally told me that in most offenses they go with about a 95% level of being convinced. It is also important to note that the burden of convincing jurors is entirely upon the prosecution. A defendant has no obligation to present a defense and there should never be an inference as to guilt if no defense is presented.
This final Camm trial occurred in Boone County, Indiana because of extensive pre-trial publicity. For the past ten weeks I was able to walk out my front entryway and see the media vehicles parked nearby. I even managed to attend and listen to some of the testimony. Special prosecutor Stan Levko was assisted by Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer in the prosecution.
After the summation of closing arguments was made on Tuesday the jury was left to deliberate and come to the only reasonable verdict - not guilty. This is not to say that David Camm did not murder his wife and children. I make no aspersions to the truth of the matter as I was not there to witness the killings. So any opinion I have as to whether he committed such acts is irrelevant. What I do know is that, in the eyes of the law, he is not a murderer and that is the proper sentiment.
There are at times certain events in your life where doubt is raised as to the veracity of what seems like a perfectly legitimate claim. That doubt comes from the claimant's attempt to falsify or manipulate his evidence or shield himself from criticism. One such obvious incident is the Church's declaration of heresy against Nicolaus Copernicus when he declared that the Church's declaration that the earth was the center of the universe was false. If the Church was being truthful then it would have welcomed such a critique.
In my personal experience with Todd Meyer and former Boone County Circuit Court Judge Steve David -- now a supreme court justice – while I was proceeding through a felony prosecution for allegedly neglecting my son I challenged their integrity. Within a day of leafleting Lebanon, Indiana with fliers inviting the public to attend the trial and see evidence of their “corruption” exposed, the trial was canceled. A year and a half later the charge was dropped and my petition to have the charge reinstated was denied. If Meyer and David were not corrupt then why avoid the scrutiny. I welcomed having a jury scrutinize my actions. I asked to be re-charged with the felony and have a jury trial to so scrutinize me.
There were plenty of moments in the Camm trial that amounted to a similar effort to obscure the truth. When the defense presented a crime scene reconstruction “expert” -- who claimed there was blood splatters on the garage wall, which turned out to be motor oil – that had no training in that field you have to question their veracity. When they present weeks of evidence upon the presumption that David Camm shot and killed his family and then in the closing arguments allege that he may have only “aided and abetted” someone else in the killings then you must question their veracity.
I believe in a unifying force in the universe that ensures that there is always a link between action and consequence. If David Camm killed his family then the force of Unity will hold him accountable. If a prosecutor is corrupt and uses unscrupulous tactics then that same force will hold him accountable. That accountability may come in the form of a not guilty verdict. This isn't the first time for that either. Delisa Draper was accused by Meyer of involvement in a fire adjacent to the Boone County Courthouse. Although investigators repeatedly lied to Draper in an effort to get her to falsely implicate someone else she held fast to the truth. Her public defender wanted her to plead guilty. The prosecutor offered a plea deal of one year no report, no fee probation and then expunging the conviction if probation was successful. I implored her to reject that offer which she did and instead she had her attorney present my trial strategy. Upon her acquittal jurors actually apologized to her that she had to endure that ordeal.
I must also seriously question the integrity of a prosecutor who offers a plea agreement, which includes a jail sentence of only six months, to someone who he alleges murdered a disabled child.
That is what should frighten everyone though. Does it infuriate you that a prosecutor would allow an alleged murderer of a disabled child to escape with only six months in jail? Yet it is easy to get someone to accept that plea agreement if we do not have confidence in juries. What would you do when presented with the option of going to prison for 50 years if a jury should happen to convict you or going for the sure thing and only spending 1% of that time in jail?
I encourage you to not second guess the jurors decision in the David Camm case. I assure you that it was the proper decision although there is always the possibility that it may not have reflected the truth. But that is the way our system is designed. We would rather see the guilty go free than the innocent imprisoned. The Innocence Project has clearly detailed as to the failure of our system to accomplish that goal. If you take anything away from this trial be it at least the knowledge that it is incumbent upon the state to prove its' case beyond a reasonable doubt through ethical and legal tactics.
If your clients' case involves false allegations of Domestic Violence or a child related crime then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. There is no charge for initial attorney consultations.
If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.
Subscribe to this blawg.
More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.
©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
A Correct Verdict in the final David Camm Trial
24 October 2013