Jury selection process refined in death penalty case
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent September 21, 2012 4:48PM
Kevin Isom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 23, 2012 6:09AM
In an effort to streamline the jury selection process in an upcoming death penalty murder trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys will review responses on long-form questionnaires to determine whether some potential jurors can be excused for hardship reasons.
Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., who will preside at the trial of Kevin Charles Isom, ruled that some of the jurors could potentially avoid having to be questioned in court by the attorneys if they can agree potential hardship reasons exist.
Isom’s first trial on three counts of murder of his family members and four counts of attempted murder involving Gary police officers ended in mistrial on March 14 when there weren’t enough jurors to complete the panel. As was the case during the first trial, jurors who complete a lengthy questionnaire will be questioned individually.
Isom, 46, is charged in the shooting deaths of his wife, Cassandra Isom, 40, and stepchildren, Michael Moore, 16, and Ci’Andria Cole, 13. The shootings occurred Aug. 6, 2007, inside the family’s apartment in the Lakeshore Dunes Apartment in the Miller section of Gary.
The initial pool of jurors numbered 1,150 and has been winnowed to about 600.
Last time, the entire jury pool was 273.
On Friday, three potential jurors were excused from jury duty. Six potential jurors were ordered to appear Oct. 25 for a contempt hearing for skipping Friday’s hearing.
Jury selection will begin in November.
Isom’s trial is set to begin Jan. 7 and could last four weeks or longer.