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Court of Appeals to decide if Cameron Crockett deserves 3rd trial

The case covered the airwaves during the holiday season of 2008 after Beach Police arrested Cameron Crockett for driving drunk and killing his best friend Jack Korte.

Two juries found him guilty, and after his second conviction, he ran off to Belize.

U.S. Marshals eventually caught up to him, and he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

Today, that is where Crockett remains with more than six years still to serve.

But now, a NewsChannel 3 investigation is uncovering new details that show this case might not be as simple as it seemed.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Car was speeding, crashed into my neighbor’s yard…two people are hurt bad.”

“We’ve got one still breathing, but they are trapped in the car, one is in backseat.”

Those are the 911 calls from December 28th, 2008 after Crockett’s car crashed on Wolfsnare Road in Virginia Beach.

James Kelly Reid was one of the witnesses who first responded to the scene.

“It was a horrific wreck. The car was wrapped around the tree, and I tried to see who I could help. I only saw one person in the car, and that was Cameron Crockett, he was in back,” said Reid, who also remembers that Crockett was not wearing a seat belt.

That seat belt has been a key component to Crockett’s defense since the beginning.

His lawyers tried to convince two different juries that someone else drove that night, wore the seatbelt, and managed to escape unharmed and unseen into the darkness.

But that theory was never proven because the seatbelt was never tested until now.

“It is my firm belief that Cameron is not guilty,” said local attorney Adrienne Bennett, who took on Crockett’s case right before his sentencing after he fled the country. “After a review of the case, I felt compelled to get involved.”

Bennett says her decision was based partly on this seat belt mechanism test, finally performed after Crockett’s 2nd conviction.

“My client, Cameron, always believed if the seat belt mechanism was tested, it would prove his theory of innocence. Why it didn’t happen before, I don’t know,” said Bennett.

Bob Bagnell says he knows why–as a former Portsmouth Police crash and crime scene investigator, he worked for the Crockett family as a defense expert in the case.

“’Couldn’t touch it, couldn’t touch it,’ that’s all we were getting,” said Bagnell, so feels the seat belt test was never performed because engineers ran into what he called road blocks at the Beach Police impound lot.

“The seat belt was there, but they wouldn’t let us take it out. Despite court orders, we were not allowed to touch anything,” said Bagnell.

This court order, filed in 2009, shows Crockett’s defense team was granted access to document “the interior of the vehicle, including…the condition of the switches, components, and other mechanisms in the car.”

They thought the seatbelt would be included in that–but according to the office of Beach Commonwealth Attorney Colin Stolle, Crockett’s lawyers never specifically asked for the seat belt mechanism testing.

So without it, the only evidence at trial came from witnesses like Reid, who say they never saw Crockett in the driver’s seat, but couldn’t believe that there was a third person in the car.

“There was no way, I feel, someone could get up and walk away from that crash,” said Reid.

Leaving jurors to decide Cameron Crockett’s fate based on what even the trial judge called “circumstantial evidence.”

“There was no justice to it. Convicting him was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” said Barbara Addison, a juror who convicted Cameron Crockett back in February of 2012.

NewsChannel 3 interviewed her, along with Edward Ruehl, another juror.

“My assumption, according to my memory, was that he was not wearing a seat belt, and he was thrown backwards by the force of the car,” said Ruehl.

While Ruehl believed the prosecution’s case, and thought Cameron was the driver, Addison wasn’t so sure.

“I wasn’t ready to convict him. To me, it was so sketchy,” said Addison. “They never proved he drove the car!”

“Juries are looking for scientific evidence,” said Bagnell. “They watch CSI on TV, got the CSI effect.”

Now, that is what Cameron’s defense teams says this seat belt test provides–scientific proof that Crockett was in fact, not the driver.

“It says the seat belt was in use, and was activated at the time of collision,” said Bagnell. “His medical report says he had no injuries consistent with a seat belt.”

“The person who was driving the vehicle was, in fact, belted, so that excludes Cameron, therefore he is innocent,” said Bennett.

The admissibility of this seat belt test is now in front of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, who recently accepted Crockett’s petition for appeal, and will soon be considering whether to grant his motion for a new trial.

So if these three judges consider the seatbelt test to be “newly discovered evidence”– would it change a reasonable jury’s verdict?

“I would have not voted guilty, it would have been a hung jury,” said Addison.

“Certainly there is enough information in my mind that would justify another trial,” said Ruehl. “Whether he is guilty or innocent, that’s up for next 12 people to look at.”

NewsChannel 3 contacted Beach police, the Beach Commonwealth Attorney, and even the family of Jack Korte.

All declined to be interviewed on camera for this story, but they tell us to this day, they still believe firmly that Cameron was driving that night in 2008.

14 comments

  • linda frederick

    Cameron Crockett certianly deserves another trial .If all evidence was examined from the get go Mr. Crockett would not have to be facing a third trial. Shame on the prosecution team if they intensionaly witheld evidence.

  • Ben

    Why do you think that the Beach Police and Commonwealth Attorney didn’t allow the seatbelt to be tested? How is that not part of the mechanisms of the interior of the car? This stinks of corruption. Who does Cameron think was driving if it wasn’t him? There has to be more to the story. Please continue your investigation and explore all sides.

  • nick

    They are saying Jacob Palmer was driving but his dad is supposedly a big wig inVBPD/Sheriffs department.

    • Sandie

      EXACTLY, Nick !! Jacob Palmer was driving and it’s been being covered up from the very beginning. LET CAMERON GO FREE !! I hope he sues this city for the two years they have stolen from him !!

  • Paula Crockett

    Correction, they have stolen 5 years of his life. This accident was on December 28, 2008. Facts are, they did not have enough evidence to even arrest him, much less put him and his family through 5 years of hell, Another jury member is on the record saying the same thing :He did not think Cameron was guilty but they had to do something so they picked GUILTY, Really !Q!! They knew from the 911 tapes Cameron was in the rear window when he was found. with his left habd out of the window., over the roof?? They also lost the jacket that is pictured outside of the car. It is missing. Cameron was removed throught the rear window over the trunk. Go to the http://www.cameroncrockett website and view these pics, , there are also documents that back up this story. Cameron Crockett is Innocent. They know this. They are going to fall like dominoes. The car window on the drivers side was down during the crash. Look at the story, clearly the window is down, and there is even mud from the tires spinning on the drivers seat. Easy exit. It is so unfair and a grave injustice, that the guilty one roams the earth still thinking he can get away with anything he wants. Look at his record, you will see one dismissal after the other. May God be with him….The TRUTH is always revealed……WTKR YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kimmy Fedorko

    Thank you to WTKR and Laurie Simmons for exposing evidence that will help bring forth the truth and ultimately Cameron Crockett’s freedom. Cameron Crockett is one of the most honorable and principled young men that I have ever met. It is an absolute travesty that he was found guilty for a crime that he did not commit, and that he is serving the time for someone else’s crime. Please help Cameron Crockett and his family by continuing to investigate this terrible injustice. Thank you!

  • Donna

    Laurie,
    I am disappointed that my comment from 2 days ago was not posted under this story. I believe it was “thought provoking” and in no way contained any information that should have been be censored by WTKR.
    Donna Schute

  • mvb

    Sargeant Palmer is the most corrupt cop in Vb, Im sure he and the VBPD did everything they could to protect his son, I had to go to court against Sgt. Palmer 4 times, not guilty everytime my lawyer even filed a harassment charge against him

  • J. F. C.

    Interesting information about Sgt. Palmer. What ever became of the Harrassment charge filed. Let me see, it was also dismissed. !!! Did you have involvement with his son. !!

  • Todd Jager

    I just dont believe this story line. Two seperate juries found this guy guilty already, he fled the country to avoid going to prison and now he says the seatbelt proves he is innocent? I dont buy it. Seems like a the juries already got it right.

    • PW

      I just love ignorant people, who do not have any of the facts in this case. You have no idea why Mr. Crockett left this country. You do not know him. Juries certainly do not get it right, even part of the time, just look around . Yes, a seatbelt proves he was not the driver. He would have had injuries to the neck, shoulder abdomen and right waistline , where most of the impact bearing of weight was. As the vehicle hit to the right laterally. Maybe you should open up a Scinece book and read about Newtons Law of Physics. This young man had NO INJURIES to ever indicate he was in the front drivers seat and he was found by the first on the scene in the rear window. Not the front drivers seat. He had glass on the right side of his head, in the medical reports and a cut to his left hand. Well guess what, the glass in the drivers side door was never broken out. Go back look at the video. That glass is in tact,and down during the crash. EASY EXIT>>> so I guess he got that cut UHHH where. Not only that, look at the website pictures. http://www.cameroncrockett.com. there is a single jacket inside out laying on the back side of that car. I suppose Mr. Crockett got out of the car, shed the jacket, climbed back in the car, wedged himself in the back window, pretended to be unconscious and wa la. Really do not speak up If you do not have the facts on the case. Ignorance is Bliss !!!

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