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Isom murder trial off to a rocky start

KevIsom listens with his defense prosecutijudge Thomas Stefaniak Crown Point during opening day Isom's trial murder his wife stepchildren 2007.

Kevin Isom listens with his defense and the prosecution to judge Thomas Stefaniak in Crown Point during the opening day of Isom's trial in the murder of his wife and stepchildren in 2007. | L.D. Chukman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 9, 2013 6:19AM



The long-anticipated capital murder case of a Gary man charged with killing his wife and two stepchildren got off to a rocky beginning Monday after the defense legal team sought to delay the start of the trial or have the judge declare a mistrial in light of a recently disclosed amended coroner’s report.

Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., who is presiding at the trial of Kevin Charles Isom, denied both requests by defense attorneys Herbert Shaps and Casey McCloskey, but allowed them the opportunity to speak with Dr. Young Kim, a forensic pathologist with the Lake County Coroner’s office whose amended report was turned over to the defense on Friday afternoon. McCloskey said the report was highly unusual, the first he’d seen in 17 years.

During a hearing before 12 regular jurors and five alternates were sworn in, Shaps said the amended report put him in a difficult position to make an opening statement in light of Kim changing his finding that Isom’s wife, Cassandra Isom, 40, suffered one, not two, shotgun blasts to the head. Kim’s new report also changed the location of a wound suffered by Michael Moore, Cassandra Isom’s 16-year-old son, from one arm to the other. That wound is documented extensively in photographs.

Stefaniak assured the defense team they would have an opportunity to depose Kim before he is expected to testify during the trial.

During opening statements, deputy prosecutor David Urbanski painted a picture for the jury of Aug. 5, 1995, the day the former Cassandra Barnes married Isom. Her father, the Rev. Eddie Barnes, not only walked her down the aisle but also performed the ceremony. Her daughter, Ci’Andria Cole, was 1. Moore, then 3, served as the best man.

“That marriage ended in the context of ‘till death us do part,’” Urbanski said.

The veteran prosecutor said a shotgun blast to the head from a 12-gauge single barrel pump action weapon with a pistol grip killed Cassandra Isom on Aug. 6, 2007 — 12 years and one day into her marriage to Isom. All three victims sustained multiple gunshot wounds, and their DNA was found on Isom’s jeans, Urbanski said.

Isom, 47, an unemployed security guard, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder in the deaths of Cassandra Isom, Moore, and Cole, 13, at the family’s apartment at 5708 Hemlock Avenue in the Lake Shore Dunes complex in the Miller section of Gary. Moore also faces three counts of attempted murder involving Gary police officers who were shot at during a standoff.. A fourth attempted murder charge was dismissed on Monday.

In his opening statement, Shaps told jurors they could expect rigorous cross-examination of prosecution witnesses. Shaps said there will be insufficient evidence to convict Isom and that someone else committed the triple homicide.

“The real perpetrator, the actual perpetrator, acted in sudden heat and with an active mind. Kevin Isom was knocked unconscious and left in the apartment to take the blame,” Shaps said.

Shaps told jurors that Isom has no memory of the events, something he said is consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder and retrograde amnesia that can be brought on by a concussion. Shaps said Isom couldn’t have given Gary police Detective James Bond a confession in light of his lack of memory of the incident. Isom’s previous attorneys had unsuccessfully sought to suppress his statement to police.



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