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Indiana Supreme Court: Court Reverses Murder Convictions
Posted in Litigation

In Camm v. State, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed David R. Camm’s three convictions and sentence of life imprisonment without parole for allegedly murdering his wife and two children.  The Court remanded his case for a new trial.

Camm was first convicted of the same charges in 2002, but his conviction was reversed when the Indiana Court of Appeals found that he was prejudiced by the State’s introduction of evidence regarding his character.  In 2006, Camm was convicted a second time, and sentenced to life without parole – leading to a direct appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.

This time, the Court found two independent grounds requiring reversal.  First, the trial court erred in allowing the State to suggest repeatedly that the defendant molested his daughter.  The molestation evidence was not admissible under Evidence Rule 404(b) because the State did not have “sufficient proof that the person who allegedly committed the act did, in fact, commit the act.”  Also, the molestation evidence was not admissible because “the risk of unfair prejudice [from the admission of the molestation evidence] substantially outweighed its modest probative value.” 

Second, the trial court erred in allowing a friend of Camm’s wife to testify regarding the wife’s statement as to when she expected Camm to be home the night of the murders.  While all parties in this case agreed the statement was hearsay, the parties disagreed as to whether Evidence Rule 803(3), “a hearsay exception for statements of the declarant’s then-existing state of mind at the time the statement was made,” applied.  Ultimately, the court found that the statement did not fall within the hearsay exception because the statement was not one “of the declarant’s state of mind but rather was a statement of her expectation of the defendant’s actions.” 

Chief Justice Shepard dissented, stating that Camm’s trial, though not perfect, was fair.  Shepard believed a reversal was unwarranted because of the “mountainous evidence in this trial” pointing to Camm’s guilt.

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