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(INDIANAPOLIS) – A Gary triple murderer is trying again to get his death sentence thrown out:

Kevin Isom’s already lost one appeal of his convictions for killing his wife Cassandra and two teenage stepchildren in 2007. Now he’s targeting the sentence, arguing the instructions to the jury may have kept them from considering whether he’s mentally ill.

Defense attorney Steve Schutte concedes it’s not clear Isom’s original lawyers could have made that case, because Isom’s refused to cooperate with psychiatrists called in to examine him. But he says the law is clear that jurors have to be allowed to consider anything that might persuade them not to impose a death sentence. 

Deputy attorney general Tyler Banks acknowledges the instruction was too narrow, reflecting the standards for an insanity defense during the trial itself, not the sentencing phase. But he argues two other jury instructions properly stated the law, and explicitly told jurors they could consider anythign they wanted.

And Banks argues trial lawyers made a clear decision of their best strategy for sparing Isom from Death Row, presenting piles of evidence of Isom’s abusive childhood and its lasting effect on his emotional state. 

Isom is one of seven Hoosiers on Death Row. An eighth has been ruled mentally incompetent to be executed but could have his sentence reinstated if his mental condition were to change.

Four inmates sentenced to death have exhausted their appeals, but the state hasn’t scheduled any executions, because it’s having trouble acquiring the drugs used for lethal injection. Indiana hasn’t carried out an execution since 2009.

(Photo: Ashley Fowler/WIBC)