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Isom gets the death penalty; Gary man convicted of 3 murders

KevIsom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media

Kevin Isom. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 10, 2013 6:45AM



A Lake Superior Court jury on Friday sentenced convicted killer Kevin Charles Isom to death for the murders of his wife and stepchildren.

The three-woman, nine-man jury deliberated two hours before returning to court with the verdicts.

Isom, 47, skipped the trial for a third day after telling Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. he didn’t want to watch his family testify during the sentencing phase of the five-week trial. He refused to return after his family had completed testifying.

Stefaniak’s voice choked with emotion as he read the verdicts for death. A sentencing hearing is set for March 8.

Isom was convicted Tuesday of murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Cassandra Isom, 40, and stepchildren Michael Moore, 16, and Ci’Andria Cole. All three were shot multiple times, and Cassandra Isom suffered a devastating shotgun blast to the head.

The jury found that the state, represented by trial supervisor David Urbanski and deputy prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz, proved beyond a reasonable doubt the aggravating circumstance that Isom killed each victim while having killed the others. The murders occurred at the family’s apartment at 5708 Hemlock Ave., in the Miller section of Gary.

After finding the state had proved the aggravating circumstance, the jury then had to balance that against mitigating factors that each juror decided individually. Defense attorney Casey McCloskey, who represented Isom with lead defense counsel Herbert Shaps, argued that his client, who has no significant criminal history, suffered an extreme emotional disturbance from losing his job and realizing his marriage was in trouble.

Isom grew up without his father. His mother drank during his pregnancy, and his grandmother and aunts played a key role in raising Isom, who often would retreat to his bedroom during stressful situations. The family moved frequently and struggled financially. At one time they lived in Altgeld Gardens on the south side of Chicago at a time when gangs, drugs and violence were prevalent. Isom was beaten in an attempt to get him to join a gang, but he resisted, Isom graduated from high school, moved to Gary with his mother, and married the former Cassandra Barnes in 1985.

The marriage lasted 12 years and one day. A few weeks before the murders, Isom was fired from his job as a security guard, and days before the killings Cassandra had talked about leaving him, according to a statement taken by Gary police Detective James Bond.

McCloskey said no one knows what happened the night of Aug. 6, 2007. “The question you have to ask is what is enough. Nothing can bring back the victims,” McCloskey said.

Urbanski said the evidence presented during the trial clearly showed that Isom used his 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip, .357 Magnum revolver and .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun to slaughter his family. Using the words of defense witnesses to counter McCloskey’s argument, Urbanski argued that one mental health professional said Isom had good family support and no history of psychiatric problems. Although Isom was exposed to the violence of the crime-ridden public housing project, “he actually did pretty well,” Urbanski said, recalling another mental health expert’s testimony.

Urbanski said Isom’s killing of his family was an extreme, brutal and horrific act carried out solely and consciously by Isom. Jurors heard a chilling 911 call in which no one but the police radio operator spoke. Three gunshots were heard on the open line. Crime scene photographs show Moore’s hand next to a phone, which was off the hook.



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