Camm v. Faith, No. 18-1440 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
On September 28, 2000, Camm, a former Indiana State Trooper, arrived home and discovered his wife lying on the garage floor, having been shot in the head. His children, Brad and Jill, were dead in his wife’s vehicle. Camm thought Brad might be alive, so he reached over Jill’s body, pulled Brad out, and began performing CPR. Jill’s blood ended up on his T-shirt. Camm called the Indiana State Police. Floyd County prosecutor Faith arrived and decided to hire an Oregon private forensics analyst, specializing in blood-spatter analysis, a subjective field he admits is only partly scientific. The analyst's assistant, Stites, arrived to document evidence and take photos. Stites is not a crime scene reconstructionist, has never taken a bloodstain-analysis course, and has almost no scientific background. Stites told investigators that the blood on Camm’s shirt was “high-velocity impact spatter” (HVIS), which occurs only in the presence of a gunshot. Stites identified HVIS bloodstains on the garage door, shower curtains, breezeway siding, a mop, and a jacket. Only the stain on the T-shirt was actually blood. Stites also stated that the blood was manipulated by a high pH cleaning substance. Faith and the investigators also found a prison-issue sweatshirt in the garage with a nickname written on the collar. The Indiana Department of Corrections has a database of inmate nicknames, but no one tried to match the nickname to a former prisoner. A palm print on Kimberly Camm’s car was not run through the system for a match. Camm’s attorney had the sweatshirt tested, uncovering a DNA profile. Faith agreed to run the profile through CODIS and stated that nothing came up; he never actually ran the test. At trial, Stites gave credentials and made statements that were indisputably false. Camm was twice convicted but was acquitted after a third trial. The DNA, nickname, and palm print had, by then, identified the actual killer. Camm sought damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the 13 years he spent in custody. Reversing the district court, the Seventh Circuit held that Camm presented enough evidence for trial on the Fourth Amendment claim, as it relates to the first probable-cause affidavit. A trial is also warranted on aspects of the Brady claim: whether some defendants suppressed evidence of Stites’s lack of qualifications and their failure to follow through on a promise to run a DNA profile.