Isom refuses to come to court again
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent February 7, 2013 5:42PM
Kevin Isom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:24AM
Kevin Charles Isom, who is facing the death penalty for the murders of his wife and stepchildren, refused to come to court for a second day after his family members had completed their testimony during the sentencing phase of the case.
Isom, 47, of Gary wasn’t present when his cousin, Yvonne Stewart Anderson, gave an impassioned plea to the jury to spare Isom’s life. “I hope and pray that you don’t take his life. How can you take a person’s life when he is already dead?” she said.
Anderson told the jury she knows the pain of losing a loved one — her 16-year-old son was killed in 2007. “We used to say tomorrow is not promised. The next minute is not promised. Please find it in your heart — he lost his family. None of us knows what happened there. We’re all going to have to answer for what we do when our Lord Jesus comes again.”
Isom was convicted Tuesday of the Aug. 6, 2007, murders of his wife, Cassandra Isom, 40 and stepchildren Michael Moore, 16, and Ci’Andria Cole, 13. Jurors are expected to hear testimony from two additional witnesses on Friday before they deliberate on whether to impose death by lethal injection, life in prison without parole or a term of years.
Meanwhile, after Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. was informed by his chief bailiff that Isom refused to be present in court, the judge gave the defense team of Herbert Shaps and Casey McCloskey an opportunity to meet with their client before he conducted a hearing in a small room in the Lake County Jail with Isom’s lawyers, a court reporter and deputy prosecutors David Urbanski and Michelle Jatkiewicz present.
Later in court, the judge made a further record of what transpired and noted that Jatkiewicz appeared to be extremely uncomfortable in the room, which was locked without their ability to leave. Stefaniak said when the attorneys had left and just he, Isom, and the court reporter were in the room, Isom began chuckling. “She must have been locked in a closet when she was a little kid,” the judge said Isom told him, referring to Jatkiewicz.
Meanwhile, jurors heard testimony from mental health professionals, including forensic clinical psychologist James Eisenberg, who outlined risk factors he identified that can lead to criminal behavior. He noted Isom’s mother drank during her pregnancy and his father played no role in his life. As a child Isom was overweight and suffered a head injury when he fell out of a window. In addition, he and his mother moved frequently and often lived with other relatives, including an aunt who sold bootleg alcohol and cigarettes. When he was a teen, Isom lived in the crime-ridden Altgeld Gardens in Chicago where guns, gangs and drugs were prevalent, but Isom managed to graduate from high school, work for about 15 years as a security guard and avoid any criminal convictions except for a handgun possession charge for taking a weapon across the state line.
“Simply because you’re around corrupting influences doesn’t man they corrupt you, does it?” Jatkiewicz asked Eisenberg.
“That’s correct, and that’s the troubling thing about this case for me.” Eisenberg said.