CROWN POINT | Kevin Isom was sentenced to death Friday as recommended last month by a Lake County jury.
Isom, 47, of Gary, was found guilty Feb. 5 of slaying his wife, Cassandra, 40, and her children — Michael Moore, 16, and and Ci'Andria Cole, 13 — nearly six years ago in the family's Miller apartment.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. was bound by law to impose the jury's decision. However, at the urging of the state Friday, Stefaniak handed Isom three consecutive death sentences to increase the chances Isom will die in prison.
Mark Bates, an appellate attorney with the county public defender's office, was on hand during Friday's hearing to undertake Isom's initial appeal as required by law.
Isom also was sentenced to 36 months on three lesser counts for shooting at police during a standoff after the murders. Isom effectively served those sentences during his nearly six-year stay in the Lake County Jail, Stefaniak said.
The judge set Isom's execution date for Feb. 5.
Isom, who had not been present in court since the start of the sentencing phase of the trial, appeared Friday at sentencing as required by law.
Head shaven, shackled and garbed in a gray-and-white striped jail uniform, Isom remained composed as Eddrin Barnes, his wife's younger brother, presented his family's impact statement.
"You are a coward," Barnes told Isom, adding he had betrayed his wife and stepchildren.
Barnes described Cassandra, the eldest child of the family, as a loving person and a hard worker.
His nephew, Michael, a comedian and budding entrepreneur, loved to make people laugh and had just started his first job. The boy was his parents' first grandchild, he said.
Ci'Andria also was a loving person, "sweet, kind and helpful," Barnes said.
Isom had not been the family's "pick" for his sister, he said.
Isom could not face the truth about their relationship when his sister told family members she would "put him out" of their home, Barnes said.
"We were a very close-knit family," he said, adding the family had never experienced violence or a murder in the family until the tragedy.
"The family is forever broken," Barnes said.
The three funerals caused the family hardship, and Barnes asked that Isom be ordered to pay restitution.
With appeals in the wings, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter limited his remarks after the hearing.
"We're very pleased with the conviction," he said, adding his office had spoken with the victims' family to prepare them for the appellate process.
Isom will be transported to the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, where out of 93 inmates sentenced to death since 1977, 20 were executed between 1981 and 2009.
More than three times as many individuals have had their death sentences vacated as have been executed after exhausting their appeals, according to information by the Indiana Public Defender Council.