CROWN POINT | A Lake County jury took two hours Tuesday afternoon to find a Gary man guilty of murdering his wife and two stepchildren.
In addition to the three murder convictions, Kevin Isom, 47, was found guilty on three counts of criminal recklessness for shooting at responding police officers during a standoff of several hours.
In the county's first capital murder case in a decade, the trial will move into the sentencing phase Wednesday morning. Jurors will hear evidence to determine whether to sentence Isom to the death penalty, life without the possibility of parole or a set number of years.
The case against Isom went to jurors at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday in Lake Criminal Court following four hours of closing arguments and the reading of lengthy instructions to the jury.
Isom was charged with three counts of murder in the deaths of Cassandra Isom, 40, and Isom's stepchildren — Michael Moore, 16, and C'Andria Cole, 13 — nearly six years ago.
He also had faced three counts of attempted murder for shooting at police officers. The jury found him guilty of criminal recklessness on those counts.
On Tuesday, Lake Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Urbanski argued Isom murdered his family because of discontent with the direction of his life.
Isom recently had lost his job and — in a statement to police — said his wife had threatened to leave him just a few days before the shooting.
Urbanski said the evidence showed Isom shot his wife and stepchildren multiple times, using a shotgun and two handguns he owned.
All three were shot at least once using a .12-guage shotgun, with Cassandra Isom suffering five separate entrance wounds; Michael, two; and C'Andria, eight.
Urbanski recounted the day's events on Aug. 6, 2007, at the couple's apartment in the Lake Shore Dunes complex in Gary's Miller neighborhood, beginning with multiple 911 calls from neighbors reporting hearing gunshots, an angry male voice and heavy walking in Apt. 104.
It was the day after the couple's 12th wedding anniversary, but Urbanski said there was little to celebrate with Isom having recently lost his job and his wife threatening to leave him.
Urbanski told jurors that during testimony at the trial, Isom's mother did not deny he had not been himself and had been depressed.
Urbanski disputed defense claims Isom had been rendered unconscious by a fourth gun wielded by the real perpetrator before he fled the apartment.
"Albert Amptmeyer inflicted those injuries," Urbanski said. "No one else."
Amptmeyer was the leader of the SWAT entry team that found Isom on the floor of the southeast bedroom reaching for a weapon.
Tucked in the waistband of Isom's jeans was his .357 handgun, Urbanski said. On the floor, a .40-caliber handgun and the shotgun were within his reach.
Medical, ballistics and DNA experts linked Isom to the weapons and the scene, Urbanski said.
Defense attorney Herbert Shaps denied Isom was the perpetrator, arguing the gunfire had stopped by 11 p.m. when the perpetrator left the apartment.
Shaps said police failed to search vacant apartments in the building and inspect the vehicles in the area. He said officials had lost a knife observed in the kitchen, failed to test Isom for gunshot residue, minimized his injuries and manipulated blood evidence.
"On one hand, the state wants you to believe what a witness says; the other minute, not," Shaps told jurors.
Shaps attacked Isom's statement to police as presented by lead Gary homicide Detective James Bond, saying there were no notes kept by Bond, no witnesses and no video of the interview.
In the statement, Isom is quoted as admitting he killed his family, but Shaps said Isom was browbeaten during an interview and his words misrepresented by Bond.
"This is not a confession," Shaps told jurors. "What it is is a unique piece of work by Detective James Bond."
Shaps pointed to signatures on the six-page statement he said were not in Isom's handwriting.
Shaps said the state had circumstantial evidence but no direct evidence to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
During the state's rebuttal, Urbanski said there were key pieces of evidence to refute the defense's case.
All medical evaluations showed no neurological deficits as far as Isom's injuries to account for any memory loss, he said.
If, as the defense argued, the real perpetrator left through the back door, he was kind enough to lock it behind him and place C'Andria's body there to block the door, Urbanski said.
"It's not possible," he said.