I-TEAM: State lines can be roadblocks when it comes to criminal cases

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 7:09 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A mother and her boyfriend sit in jail charged with the murder of a 12-year-old boy. Warrants accuse Jasmine Camp and Clarence Brown of punishing the child to death while other children in the home listened.

They had recently moved to Augusta from another state. We wanted to know if the family had trouble there.

But let's start here in Augusta. We received a copy of the 911 call made by the Camps.

"Augusta 911. Do you need police, fire or ambulance?" the dispatcher said.

"We have a non-responding, he's 12," the caller said. "He's not responding, but he's got something coming out of his nose."

The call was made on Saturday, June 6 at 8:19 p.m.

The boy, Derrick Camp, is in the backseat. His mother claims it was an accident.

"He fell out his bunk bed. He was, like, having a seizure, falling out the bunk bed flopping around," the caller said.

The driver, a neighbor, pulls over to meet an ambulance. Derrick is rushed to the hospital. As daylight slips away so does Derrick.

DFACS gets the call at 10:51 p.m. Derrick is on “life support.” Not even 24 hours later, Derrick is gone. The time of death is Sunday, June 7 at 9:22 p.m.

This flat line is a devastating reality all too often in cases of child abuse, but it appears lawmakers are drawing the line when it comes to funding a way to fight it.

But first, let's start with state lines. DFACS documents obtained by us show Derrick Camp's family moved to Augusta in March from the Little Rock area, meaning a lot of pieces to this puzzle could be in Arkansas.

After receiving documents from DFACS, we tried to get documents from in Arkansas, but different agencies in different states have different rules. The Arkansas Department of Human Services telling us it "cannot confirm or deny a call, an investigation, or if we had specific involvement with a family."

There's also no federal database that tracks this type of information -- not even for investigators. As you can imagine, that can cause roadblocks.

We reached out to District Attorney Natalie Paine and District Attorney Bill Doupe to talk about those roadblocks. They can't talk about the Camp case, but they can talk about cases in general.

"It's a very common game that people use to to use those state boundaries as kind of a protection," District Attorney Natalie Paine said.

Arrest records might be the easiest to get, but they don't always paint a clear picture.

"It doesn't mean that it didn't happen," Doupe said. "It doesn't mean it wasn't a crime. It just means there wasn't an arrest in that state."

Sometimes it’s difficult to even get information from another county in the same state.

"Largely, we're just very dependent upon happening to call the right person at that DFACS office," Paine said. "In some of the smaller cities in Georgia, that you may not be able to get somebody on the phone."

Especially on nights and weekends, so the Georgia legislature passed a law creating its own child abuse registry in 2016. DFACS would maintain a list of all "substantiated cases of abuse and neglect."

Enter coronavirus. We found COVID cuts didn't just reduce funding. The new budget eliminates the registry's funding all-together for the coming year.

So this now really becomes a million-dollar question. If the state can't fund a list, how realistic is a national one?

This is where another case prosecuted by Doupe enters our story

"This case bothered me, bothered me," Doupe said. "It still bothers me, just reading the file again."

He's talking about the murder of a 28-day-old baby in Wilkes County. Doupe connected Edward Quinn to the deaths of not one but two infants in Michigan. Elizabeth Williams was 21 days old. Krystal Quinn was 35 days old. Charges had never been pursued.

Is it a problem when there's not an arrest record.

“Yes, it is,” Doupe said. “Yes, that’s an obstacle.”

Jimmy Talkington was a GBI investigator on the Quinn case.

"If you got someone committing a crime within their home town, their home county, then everybody knows them, you can figure that out pretty quick. But when you got a transient type individual that's trying to dodge a past then that can be a problem. You know, you may never find it," Talkington said.

Not to mention, people like Edward Quinn know how to fly under the radar.

"Talking to the doctor, he said, 'They were just so convincing, so I didn't call in DFACS.' And three days later the child's dead from being beaten.

The third one in two states. Quinn is now serving life in prison.

Jasmine Camp and Clarence Brown, meanwhile, wait for their day in court

According to Derricks' DFACS report, the "CM visited mom at the jail who admitted to everything about beating Derrick."

The question now -- were any potential warning signs missed -- when his family moved?

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