Trial costs for ex-Indiana trooper strap county
January 5, 2013 4:06PM
Updated: January 5, 2013 11:33PM
NEW ALBANY (AP) — Rising costs tied to the trials of a former state trooper accused of killing his family have forced a southern Indiana county to limit pay raises and road repairs, and officials say they’re concerned about the impact of a third trial on the county’s coffers.
Juries have twice convicted David Camm in the September 2000 shooting deaths of his wife, Kimberly, 35, and their children, Bradley, 7, and Jill, 5. Both convictions were overturned on appeal, but Camm now faces a third trial that’s expected to occur this year.
Floyd County Police Chief Ted Heavrin told the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., that the county’s legal costs have already hit $3.3 million and could rise another $1 million with the third trial.
“You lay out a hundred thousand here and a hundred thousand there ... and it’s gone over $3 million plus,” said Heavrin, the former county council president. “That’s a big impact.”
The toll on the county’s $15.3 million annual budget has been significant, he said. Only police and firefighters have received raises for six years, and road and bridge repairs are done only in cases of emergency.
“You can track back to when this county started to go downhill” financially, Heavrin said. “It started with the Camm trials.”
The county has received an average of $210,000 a year since 2002 from a state program that reimburses counties for the costs of public defenders, but that has barely made a dent in the costs, officials say.
Floyd County spent about $900,000 for Camm’s first trial and $1 million for his second trial. The trial of Charles Boney, an ex-convict who was convicted of conspiracy and murder in January 2006 in the case, cost about $80,100, according to county auditor’s records.
The total topped $3 million after appeals by Camm and Boney and a successful effort in 2011 by Camm’s defense team, led by Indianapolis attorney Richard Kammen, to have Prosecutor Keith Henderson removed from the case because he had signed a book deal about the case before the appeals were exhausted.
Heavrin said the county has taken money from riverboat revenue sharing and economic-development income taxes and has drained $1 million in reserves from a rainy-day fund to pay its bills.
For the third trial, the county will have to pay a special prosecutor, Stanley Levco of Evansville, who was appointed to take Henderson’s place.
Levco is charging $65 an hour, and his fees had totaled $37,254 through December, auditor’s records show. Levco said he is trying to keep costs down but said his fees will increase significantly this year as he devotes 20 hours a week to preparing for the trial.
Kammen has been paid nearly $387,000 since he replaced lead defense attorney Katherine Liell of Bloomington in 2010. Nearly $149,000 of that was paid last year.
Much of the money has been spent to fly consultants from Nebraska, Florida, Texas, Missouri and New Mexico to Indianapolis to meet with Kammen’s team and for forensics experts to review the case.
Kammen and fellow attorneys Stacy Uliana and Mary Spears are being paid $90 an hour, while a paralegal in their office has spent hundreds of hours — at $35 an hour — to scan documents and prepare notes for court briefs.
Kammen and Uliana also have been reimbursed for trips to visit Boney and Camm in prison.
The two lawyers also billed $544 each for one-night stays at a boutique hotel in New York City for a September 2010 trip to take the deposition of literary agent Frank Weimann in connection with Henderson’s book deal.
Kammen and Uliana acknowledged that the costs are adding up, but they said the largest part comes from consultants who charge $200 and $300 an hour.
“This is probably Dave’s last chance. We’re doing everything we can to prove he’s innocent,” Uliana said.
County Commissioner President Steve Bush said his panel may ask Special Judge Jonathan Dartt, who is overseeing the case, to help keep costs in line.
“I’m not refuting the fact (Kammen) has got a right to work on the case, but what are they needing to do that costs so much already?” he said.
Letitia “Letty” Walter, a former Floyd County council member and retired teacher, also is concerned about the costs.
“There has to be a better way to make sure justice is rendered besides the pocketbook,” Walter said.
Camm has maintained his innocence throughout the trials, insisting he was playing basketball and returned home to find his family slain.
He was first convicted in Floyd County in 2002 and sentenced to 195 years in prison. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the conviction in 2004, citing prejudicial testimony from women about extra-marital affairs.
He was convicted again in 2006 in Warrick County, where the proceedings were moved to ensure a fair trial. The Indiana Supreme Court overturned that conviction in 2009, ruling that Henderson should not have been allowed to offer “speculative” evidence that Camm sexually abused his daughter.
Heavrin and Bush say paying to resolve the deaths of Kimberly, Brad and Jill Camm is the right thing to do.
“In the end, we need to remember it’s not about the bills,” Bush said. “It’s about the deaths.”