Isom murder trial closing arguments to begin Tuesday
Closing arguments in the capital murder case of Kevin Isom are set to start Tuesday.
Prosecutors and the defense will get two hours apiece to highlight evidence and convince the jury of their side of the story.
On Monday, lawyers and Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. hashed out which instructions will be presented to the jury prior to the start of deliberations. Isom is charged with killing his wife, Cassandra Isom, and stepchildren — Ci’Andria Cole and Michael Moore — and shooting at three Gary police officers who responded Aug. 6, 2007 to Isom’s apartment in the Miller neighborhood of Gary.
Stefaniak denied some instructions submitted by the defense, including two that would have made voluntary manslaughter an option. One rejected instruction would have explained the circumstances that must be present for a voluntary manslaughter conviction, specifically the defendant responds violently in moment of “sudden heat” or a burst of anger.
Lead defense counsel Herbert Shaps argued for the instruction’s inclusion because a knife was photographed at the scene and it could have started an argument that led to the shooting deaths of Isom’s family. The knife wasn’t collected as a piece of evidence because no one was stabbed.
“The knife is extremely important and could lead the jury to infer an argument occured and the perpetrator (reacted) in ‘sudden heat,’ ” Shaps said.
Lake County Superior Court Administrator Martin Goldman took the stand to discuss the juror report, which details why each of the 1,100 people in the jury pool was accepted or rejected. Last spring, Stefaniak declared a mistrial in the Isom case because the court couldn’t find enough jurors in a pool of 600 for the trial.
Goldman said it was different from most of the 2,100 cases Lake County has dealt with in the 14 years he’s been on the job. For jurors who were sent a notice and didn’t respond, the court sent them multiple follow-up notices and even sent police to the homes of potential jurors who they thought were trying to avoid service.
“It was a huge undertaking,” Goldman said. “We’ve never done anything like this before.”