Pathologist’s memory challenged in Isom murder trial
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent January 19, 2013 8:30PM
Kevin Isom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 19, 2013 10:32PM
Defense attorneys Saturday focused their cross-examination of a forensic pathologist on the recollection of who filed a last-minute amendment to the coroner’s autopsy report in the Kevin Isom triple-homicide trial.
Prosecutors started the 12th day of the capital murder trial questioning forensic pathologist Dr. Young Kim to establish what he concluded from the autopsies of Isom’s wife and two step-children performed six years ago, as well as establish the chain of custody for evidence recovered from the bodies during the autopsies.
Kim, who appeared confused by the line of questioning, struggled to recollect anything but the most vague of the details of the autopsies. He needed to frequently refer to the written autopsy reports and diagrams to respond.
Isom co-counsel Casey McCloskey asked Kim about what he might be able to recall about the autopsies without having to refer to the written reports.
“I remember some things. I don’t have a complete recollection,” Kim said.
McCloskey used Kim’s inability to recall the specifics of the autopsies to cast doubt on the amended autopsy reports filed just prior to the start of the trial. The initial report for Cassandra Isom indicated she sustained two shotgun wounds to the head. The amended report said there was only one shotgun wound. Kim also amended the report for Michael Moore, Isom’s stepson, changing the location of one of his gunshot wounds from the left to the right side of the body.
“Without your report can you testify here today,” McCloskey asked.
To which Kim replied: “I cannot.”
McCloskey’s questioning turned to when Kim created the amended autopsy reports, including what prompted him to make the changes six years after the autopsies were performed.
During cross-examination, Kim told the jury he consulted with an unknown male employee in the Lake County Crime Lab about one year ago regarding the shotgun wound to Cassandra Isom’s head because he had begun to question the number of shotgun wounds the victim sustained.
“You had a conversation with him and amended your report but you can’t tell me who you talked to or when,” McCloskey said.
In a final salvo of the day the defense attempted to establish a chain of custody for a blood sample of Cassandra Isom. The results of tests on that sample was precluded from admission in the trial.
Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. sided with the prosecution’s objection. Stefaniak said while Kim may be the first step in the chain of custody, the defense has made no effort to subpoena or depose employees from the pathology lab, which would be necessary to truly establish the chain of custody.
“I don’t believe there was a good faith basis for the chain of evidence to be established…,” he said.