A Gary man sentenced to death for killing his wife and two teenage stepchildren has lost his latest attempt to overturn his conviction – a post-conviction relief petition.
Lake Superior Judge Samuel Cappas and Magistrate Judge Natalie Bokota determined in a ruling issued Friday that Kevin Isom of Gary failed to establish he had ineffective counsel at his murder trial or during the appeals process.
Isom’s appeals began after he was convicted of the 2007 murders of his wife, Cassandra, his 13-year-old stepdaughter, Ci’Andria Cole, and his 16-year-old stepson, Michael Moore. He was sentenced to death in 2013, and the Indiana Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence in 2015.
Isom returned to the Indiana Supreme Court in January 2017. Then, his counsel told the justices that Isom refused to provide a required signature on a post-conviction relief form because he did not want to proceed with his appointed counsel. Despite that, his counsel, Ann Kaiser, told the court that Isom should have been allowed to proceed with the PCR process because he was not competent to understand that his refusal to sign constituted a waiver of his PCR rights. She also argued that Isom’s verbal insistence on filing a PCR petition indicated that he did not want to waive that right.
The justices heard Isom’s second appeal on Jan. 12, 2017, and the next day ordered the Lake Superior Court to file his tendered petition. The trial court did so one week later.
At a March evidentiary hearing, Isom’s attorneys testified that he continued to maintain his innocence and wanted a trial despite signing a written confession. They argued at trial that someone broke into the family's apartment, killed Isom's wife and stepchildren, and left him alive.
The court’s denial of Isom’s PCR petition also cancelled a hearing on the petition that had been scheduled for Monday afternoon.