INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Frank and Janice Renn lost a daughter and their grandchildren in a burst of violence on an autumn day in 2000. In the 13 years since, each day has been filled with the same sense of loss as the one before.
“It’s like that movie Groundhog Day, where he keeps waking up to the same thing every day,” Frank Renn said.
David Camm could say the same thing. The former Indiana state trooper — and the Renns’ son-in-law before the slayings — has spent a majority of the past 13 years behind bars following two convictions in deaths of his wife and children, even though courts threw out both verdicts.
A third trial will begin Monday to determine whether Camm is guilty of shooting and killing Kimberly Camm, his 7-year-old son Bradley and 5-year-old daughter Jill at the Camms’ southern Indiana home. There’s a new prosecutor, a different judge and a new trial venue.
The 49-year-old Camm insists he was wrongly convicted, and this trial is another chance to clear his name. For the Renns, this is another shot at closure.
“What does it take to get this over with?” Frank Renn asked.
The Camm slayings are one of Indiana’s longest-running murder cases, following a tangled legal path riddled with missing murder weapons, allegations of affairs and child abuse, the emergence of a second suspect and a prosecutor’s removal over a book deal.
For years, a debate has raged over whether Camm is a villain or a victim, with both sides taking to websites, books and national television to argue their points. A petition on change.org seeking to have him freed has collected hundreds of signatures.
Prosecutors have moved the trial to Lebanon, Ind. — more than 100 miles from the Louisville, Ky., suburbs where the slayings occurred — in hopes of finding jurors who haven’t already made up their minds about Camm’s guilt or innocence. But in the digital era, that’s a tall order.
“They probably will be able to seat a jury, but whether it’s a fair jury is an open question,” said Shawn Boyne, a law professor at the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis.
Another challenge for prosecutors is making a legal argument that resonates with jurors after the two previous failures.
Camm, who had left the state police four months before his family was killed, was arrested a few days after telling investigators he had discovered his wife and their two children shot to death in the garage of their Georgetown home in September 2000. The weapon was never found.
Defense attorneys argued at Camm’s first trial in 2002 that prosecutors ignored evidence that another man had been in the garage where killings occurred. After DNA linked a violent ex-convict to the scene, they thought Camm would be freed. Instead, prosecutors said Camm had conspired with the second man to kill his family, and he was convicted again in 2006.
The second man, Charles Boney, is serving a 225-year prison sentence for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Boney’s palm print was found on Kimberly Camm’s sport-utility vehicle, and a sweatshirt found in the garage had been issued to Boney in prison while he was serving time for armed robbery and criminal confinement.
Both times, appellate courts ruled that prosecutors had deliberately inflamed the jury, in the first trial by calling a dozen women who testified they had extramarital affairs with Camm, and in the second by suggesting he had molested his daughter without any evidence to back up those statements.
“I think people just think moral judgments about the defendant,” Boyne said.
The third trial is expected to last at least six weeks amid heightened security at the Boone County Courthouse, about 25 miles northwest of Indianapolis. It isn’t yet clear whether jurors will be sequestered.
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson, who won the second murder conviction against Camm, won’t be there. He was removed after signing a book deal regarding Camm’s case, though he said the deal later was dropped.
Henderson, who filed the third set of charges, declined to comment on the case to The Associated Press. Others, including the prosecutor who won the first conviction, said they could not discuss the case because they had been ordered to testify at the third trial.
Camm’s family members did not return calls seeking comment.
The Renns plan to be in court, hoping for closure and a chance to heal.
“Hopefully one day we’ll wake up and this will never have happened. But common sense tells you it won’t be that way,” Frank Renn said.
Follow Charles Wilson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharlesDWilson