Attorneys for death row inmate seek more time for appeal

Attorneys for a Gary man sentenced to death for killing his wife and two teenage stepchildren have asked a magistrate to give him more time to sign a document needed for the case to be reviewed.

The attorney asked Lake County Magistrate Natalie Bokota for more time because 50-year-old Kevin Isom has repeatedly refused to sign the document, The (Munster) Times reports.

The Indiana Supreme Court last year upheld Isom's conviction and sentence. In January, Isom's public defense attorneys filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that Isom's trial attorneys didn't do a number of things including not presenting his social and mental history during the penalty phase of the trial.

Bokota took the petition under advisement pending the filing of notarized documents. According to court records, Isom has refused to sign a document required for the petition to be reviewed, including twice refusing to sign it during hearings before Bokota.

Bokota then determined that the time for Isom to file the petition expired in January. Earlier this month, she asked the Indiana Supreme Court to vacate the previously scheduled Nov. 28 hearing for the petition.

Defense attorneys Joanne Green, Laura Volk and Anne Kaiser filed three motions asking Bokota to reconsider Isom's petition, arguing he is not making rational decisions. His attorneys argue Isom's behavior is consistent with how he has shut down during stressful situations in the past, including during his trial when he refused to attend a portion of the proceedings.

The motion argues Isom's mental health issues date back to his time growing up in Chicago's public housing projects where he was exposed to trauma that causes people to "emotionally withdraw in order to survive."

Bokota has given the attorneys for the state until June 3 to file a response.

Isom was convicted of murder in the 2007 shooting deaths of his 40-year-old wife, Cassandra, and 16-year-old Michael Moore and 13-year-old Ci'Andria Cole in the family's Gary apartment.

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