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Officer describes for jurors in Isom trial first peek at deadly crime scene

KevIsom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media

Kevin Isom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 17, 2013 6:30AM



A Gary SWAT officer who peered into an apartment from which gunfire had erupted told Lake Superior Court jurors he could see two bodies on the floor with blood around them.

Gary police Cpl. Javier Garza said one body had severe head trauma. “I could observe the top of the head was not there,” Garza recalled. A second body was nearby, also with a severe head injury and blood surrounding it.

Garza was one of three witnesses testifying in the eighth day of evidence in the capital murder trial of Kevin Charles Isom, 47, who is charged in the deaths of his wife, Cassandra Isom, 40, and stepchildren Michael Moore, 16, and Ci’Andria Cole, 13. Isom also is charged with three counts of attempted murder involving Gary police officers who responded to gunshots at the Lake Shore Dunes apartment complex.

Garza said SWAT operators tried to make contact with whoever was inside the apartment on Aug. 7, 2007, at 5708 Hemlock Ave., in the Miller section.

Earlier witnesses included a crisis negotiator who used a bullhorn and phone calls. Garza said he threw a wireless audio and video camera contained in a rubber ball through he window, and another SWAT operator also lobbed tear gas into the first-floor unit. Garza also used a mirror on a pole to look into the living room window. None of those efforts produced results, so Garza said he climbed a ladder and saw the bodies in the dining room-kitchen area.

Gary police Lt. Jeff Trevino, an assistant team leader of the full-time SWAT unit, said when Garza relayed that he’d seen injured people from his vantage point atop the ladder, an entry team began making its way into the apartment. Attempts to get in through the back door failed, so the team regrouped, rammed the front door and found Isom by the foot of the bed with weapons within reach.

Meanwhile, Lake County police Detective James Tomko, an evidence technician with the crime scene investigation unit, said he and his partner photographed and documented evidence in the case.

Tomko testified for more than five hours, responding to questions by deputy prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz as to where dozens of live and spent shell casings and bullets, along with weapons, were found. Tomko said he collected a loaded .40-caliber pistol, a revolver and a shotgun with a pistol grip from the bedroom.

As Tomko identified photographs taken at the scene, defense attorney Casey McCloskey challenged those photos that didn’t have the crime laboratory sticker on the back.

Tomko said coroner’s office representatives were also present and documenting the scene while he was collecting evidence.



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