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Isom guilty on 3 murder counts; Gary man could face death penalty

KevIsom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media

Kevin Isom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 7, 2013 6:40AM



A Gary man faces the death penalty after a Lake Superior Court jury returned guilty verdicts on three counts of murder.

Kevin Charles Isom, 47, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read Tuesday afternoon in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. two hours and 14 minutes after the final instructions were given.

Isom was convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of his wife of 12 years, Cassandra Isom, and stepchildren Michael Moore, 16, and Ci’Andria Cole, 13.

Jurors also convicted Isom of criminal recklessness for firing at three Gary police officers — Thomas Pawlak, Pete Baum and Mark Davis who investigated gunfire reported at 10:22 p.m. Aug. 6, 2007, at the Lake Shore Dunes Apartments in the Miller neighborhood of Gary. Isom was acquitted of attempted murder counts involving the officers.

The jury will reconvene Wednesday for a second phase of the trial to determine whether Isom should die by lethal injection, spend the rest of his natural life in prison or serve a term of years. Murder is punishable by 45 to 65 years.

During closing arguments, David Urbanski, a trial supervisor for the prosecutor’s office, punctuated his words with photographs on the flat-screen monitor, including autopsy photos of the three victims. He described Isom as completely discontent with the state of his life — he had recently lost his job and his wife had discussed leaving him a few days before their anniversary.

Urbanski recounted testimony from Lt. Henry Hatch, a Lake County police firearms examiner, and Dr. Young Kim, a forensic pathologist with the Lake County coroner’s office, linking Isom’s three guns — a .357 Magnum revolver, a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip — to wounds on the victims.

Cassandra Isom suffered a shotgun blast to the head and had five separate entrance wounds, which evidence showed was linked to all three weapons. Moore had a shotgun blast to the back/flank area and two separate entrance wounds caused by the semi-automatic pistol, and Cole suffered eight entrance wounds to the head, arm and back, including a shotgun blast.

Urbanski also played a 911 call from the family’s apartment in which no one speaks and three gunshots are heard. Photos showed Moore’s hand by the telephone, which was off the hook.

Lead defense counsel Herbert Shaps took aim at the investigation by accusing Gary police Detective James Bond of fabricating Isom’s statement and forging his signature. In that statement, Bond asked Isom what was the name of the person who committed the offense. “I can’t believe I killed my family. This can’t be real,” Isom said.

Shaps recalled for the jury that a knife that had been depicted in photographs and evidence technician reports wasn’t collected.

Shaps maintained that an unknown assailant killed Isom’s family and escaped through a back door, possibly slipping into a vacant apartment or the laundry room or storage area. Shaps said firearms evidence also pointed to the possibility of a fourth gun not found at the scene.

Urbanski, however, countered that police set up a perimeter around the building at 5708 Hemlock Ave., and no one left the building. He noted that when SWAT officers subdued Isom, all three weapons were loaded and within reach, including the .357 that was tucked in his jeans.

Had someone else murdered Isom’s family, Urbanski said he or she would have had to reload the weapons and leave them there and lock the deadbolt on the back door before placing Cole’s body close enough to block the door from opening.



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