In just a few weeks a jury in Lebanon, Indiana will deliver a verdict on the guilt or innocence of David Camm. He is the former Indiana State Trooper who has spent the last 13 years in prison for the murder of his wife and two young children. His two previous convictions have both been overturned on appeal. This time around the trial has focused on a man named Charles Boney, who the defense and most close observes of the case believe committed the crime alone.
The case is receiving widespread news coverage locally but not at the national level. Organizations that advocate for the wrongfully convicted have identified the case as a potential miscarriage of justice.
On the evening of September 28, 2000 at about 9:30 PM, David Camm arrived home to find the bodies of his wife Kim, and two children, Brad, age seven, and Jill, age five. All had been shot to death with a pistol that has never been recovered. Camm was arrested a few days later and has spent all but a few hours of the last 13 years behind bars.
The evidence against him has always been weak. There was a controversial blood spatter expert who claimed that patterns of blood on David’s shirt represented high velocity impact spatter (HIVS), characteristic of a shooting at short range. Defense experts testified that the patterns were consistent with David’s claim that the blood got on his shirt when he removed his son from the car.
Beyond the HVIS evidence there was little to convict him. A group of 11 basketball players all say that at the time of the crime, David was playing a pickup game with them about five minutes from the crime scene. Prosecutors claim David must have left the game and returned to play again before leaving the gym at about 9:22 when the building’s alarm was set.
The case took a major new turn in February 2005 when the courts finally compelled the prosecution to run previously unidentified DNA from the crime scene through the CODIS database. The search produced an immediate hit on a previously unknown person named Charles Boney. Police quickly determined that his fingerprints and clothing were also present at the crime scene.
Immediately after the identification of his DNA but prior to the matching of his prints, Boney confidently proclaimed that his prints would not be found at the crime scene because he would have had to have been there for that. He told this not only to investigators but to CBS news, who prominently displayed the clip on one of their 48 Hours segments about the case. He goes on to describe how he had dropped of the sweatshirt with his DNA at a Salvation Army drop box.
When the palm print was definitively matched to him a few weeks later, his story changes dramatically. He now talks of selling a gun to David Camm and of seeing Camm murder his family. In Camm’s second trial, Boney declined to testify. In the current trial, he testified extensively – more on that in a moment. Few observes of the case believe a word he has to say.
Boney had been released from prison only a few months prior to the Camm family murders after having spent 10 of the last 11 years in prison. His crimes included at least three incidents where he held women at gunpoint. Aside from Boney’s statements, there is not a shred of evidence of any connection between him and David Camm. No one has ever seen them together, nor are there any emails or phone records linking the two.
In the present trial, Boney’s then girlfriend, Mala Singh Mattingly, has provided important testimony. She recounts how in the hours after the murder, Boney had come home with both a gun and injuries to his knee.
Boney’s Testimony and It’s Possible Consequences
It was a grotesque and sickening spectacle a few weeks ago as Charles Boney took the stand. Despite a long criminal record, his presentation to the courts was smooth and confident. To anyone with half a brain his testimony was one big lie. On the way out of the courthouse he confidently proclaimed, “You haven’t heard the last of Charles Boney.”
In his testimony Boney repeated claims previously made to investigators of having watched David Camm slaughter his family with a gun he had just bought from Boney. He recounts how Camm had turned the gun on him but was saved because it jammed. All of this was wholly inconsistent with his previous statements to investigators where he stated unequivocally that he had never met David Camm, been to the crime scene, or had possession of any weapon.
An underrated and poorly understood aspect of the story today is that a strong case to overturn Charles Boney’s conviction exists if David Camm is found guilty. Prosecutors in the case are seeking to convict two people in two separate trials for the same crime. Boney was found guilty in 2006 and was sentenced to 225 years in prison. The problem is that prosecutors cannot present two materially inconsistent scenarios to the two juries. In the current trial of Camm, jurors are being asked by the prosecution to accept a version of events that would largely exonerate Boney if accepted.
In Boney’s trial, which took place at the same time as Camm’s second trial in 2006, prosecutors argued that Boney was at the crime scene, but that little more was known about his involvement? The opening statements came perilously close to not alleging all the elements of the crime of murder. A directed verdict of not guilty was, in the opinion of this author, not off the table.
Admissibility of Boney’s Prior Bad Acts
A major point of contention in the current trial is the admissibility of Boney’s prior bad acts, including his long list of criminal convictions. It remains unclear at this point how the court will proceed. In pre-trial hearings the court had said that the most important rulings would depend on Boney’s testimony. Attorneys for the defense would particularly like to present evidence about Boney’s alleged foot fetish. In several of his past crimes he had wrestled women to the ground and absconded with one shoe. This, the defense claims, is similar to the observed m.o. at the crime scene which included shoes that had been removed and carefully placed on the roof of the family Bronco.
His statements to investigators which totally contradicted his sworn testimony are being allowed but his full criminal history is not.
The defense would also like to present some of the testimony of Boney’s past victims. One of them, Donna Kopp Ennis, has recently spoken out. In her own words:
“In October 1992, I was a college student at Indiana University in Bloomington and lived in the Varsity Villas apartment complex.”
“I looked at him and said “Can I help you?” He pulled out a gun and said, “this is a robbery.”
“he ordered us to go upstairs at gun point. He was behind me as I was going up the stairs and I was so nervous I slipped and he poked the gun into the top of my neck/bottom of my head and started cussing.”
“he called us “rich, white, honky b—–s” and told us he was going to kill us if we did anything stupid.”
“He took us out of our apartment to my roommate’s car and loaded us in the car as we were pulling out of the lot, the car was surrounded by police with guns drawn. I threw the door open and ran out of the car into the arms of a police officer. I owe my life to my neighbor who made that 911 call and the BPD who rescued us.”
“I carry a tremendous guilt, feeling that I didn’t do enough to keep him in prison. I am so sorry to the Camm and Renn families for everything that they have been through because of this monster.”
Who is more likely to have murdered the Camm family? The guy with the history of violence described above; who lied through his teeth about his involvement; who had a gun and defensive wounds immediately after the crime; whose prints were there and who fled? Or was it a conspiracy between him and the father who had no criminal record or history of trouble. If the jury hears all the evidence and looks only at the facts, their decision should be obvious.