CHICAGO — An appellate court ruled Tuesday that a former Indiana State Trooper who served 13 years for the murder of his wife and two children can proceed with a civil suit for false arrest.
The decision comes from the United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit, and reverses in part a decision early last year to dismiss David Camm's $30 million lawsuit against several Southern Indiana investigators and prosecutors.
Camm was arrested in 2000, after being charged in the shooting deaths of his wife and two small children Sept. 28 of that year. He was found guilty by a jury in 2002, but that conviction was overturned on appeal due to evidence that should not have been introduced to the jury. He was again found guilty in 2008, which was again overturned for similar reasons.
In his third trial in 2013, Camm was acquitted by the jury and released Oct. 24, after serving 13 years in prison.
The following year, he filed a civil suit against multiple defendants including crime scene technician Robert Stites, his boss Rodney Englert of Englert Forensic Consultants, LLC, former Floyd County Prosecutor Stan Faith and case investigator Sean Clemons.
Tuesday's court of appeals decision remands part of Camm's claim, which pertains to these four defendants. The court ruled that Camm could proceed in portions of the lawsuit. One is that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the defendants "willfully or recklessly made false statements" in the first of three probable cause affidavits that led to his arrest. Though Camm asserted all three probable cause affidavits held such errors, the court only found that claims for the first could continue to court.
Camm's complaint against all four states that his arrest was based largely in part on Stites' "analysis" of blood spatter on his shirt — that it showed evidence of a gunshot at close range.
"[Stites] said this even though he had no relevant education or training, had never been to a crime scene where fresh blood was present, and had never processed a homicide scene," the Tuesday ruling reads, in part.
It further states that Stites testified in court to having qualifications to make such a determination, and that Stites, Englert, Faith and Clemons allowed the testimony.
The ruling also allows the claim that Faith and Clemons failed to follow up on checking a DNA sample for Charles Boney into a national database, although they said they had checked and nothing came up. His DNA was later checked and matched into the system, revealing that he had a violent criminal past.
He was later found guilty of the murder of all three victims.