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Thread: Kenneth Roshell Isom - Arkansas Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Kenneth Roshell Isom - Arkansas Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    Dorothy Lawson testified that she had been assisting Bill Burton, age 79, her deceased husband's brother-in-law, in his rehabilitation following hip surgery. Mrs. Lawson was at Mr. Burton's trailer home the night of April 2, 2001, and was watching television with Mr. Burton when she heard someone knock on the door. It was about 7:45 p.m. but still light outside. She opened the front door, and a man pushed passed her. She recognized the man as the person she had seen next door. She later identified that person as Mr. Isom. He walked over to Mr. Burton and, standing near him, said, "I want some money." Mr. Burton replied that he currently had no money but that his social security check was coming tomorrow. Mr. Isom pulled a pair of broken scissors from his pants' back pocket and threatened Mr. Burton. Mr. Burton gave him two $100 bills and another forty dollars. Mr. Isom became angry and said he wanted more. He made Mr. Burton stand up and walk towards the bedroom. He then made Mr. Burton lie down on the floor in the hallway.

    Mr. Isom next grabbed Mrs. Lawson and told her to remove her pants and underwear and lie down in the hallway near Mr. Burton. Mr. Isom raped her vaginally, forced her to have oral sex with him, and raped her anally. During the rapes, Mrs. Lawson testified that she could clearly see his face. When she complained about the pain, Mr. Isom said: "It's going to be worse than this before the night's over." There was a knock at the back door, and Mr. Isom said: "Don't say a word. If you do, I'll kill you. I'll kill you now." Whoever was at the back door apparently left. Mr. Isom forced Mrs. Lawson into a closet. When she later looked out and told Mr. Isom to stop standing on Mr. Burton's head because he was old, Mr. Isom forced her back into the closet and said: "I know he's old. That's why I want to hurt him." She next saw Mr. Isom lying on top of Mr. Burton. She attacked Mr. Isom and in the process cut her hand on his scissors. She bled on Mr. Isom, which enraged him, and he said: "You're going to get it now." He demanded the diamond rings worn by Mr. Burton. Mrs. Lawson gave Mr. Isom her ring instead. Mr. Isom took her into the bedroom and knocked her unconscious. When she awoke, Mr. Isom was choking her. Mrs. Lawson testified that she could plainly see his face. She passed out again, and when she awoke some time later, she was alone. There was warm blood on the back of her head and rattling in her chest due to internal bleeding. She discovered that she was paralyzed on one side.

    On April 3, 2001, Erma Shook, a neighbor and relative of Bill Burton's, entered the side door of his trailer home after 8:00 a.m. and heard Mrs. Lawson crying for help. Ms. Shook dialed 9-1-1 from Mr. Burton's trailer home. Donald King, a patrol sergeant with the Monticello Police Department, was the first to arrive at the scene. He testified that he found Mr. Burton dead, lying on the floor in the hallway, and Mrs. Lawson lying on the floor in the master bedroom. The cause of death of Mr. Burton was later determined by associate medical examiner, Dr. Charles Kokes, to be multiple sharp and blunt force injuries. Mrs. Lawson told Sergeant King that a black male who lived next door was the assailant.

    Isom was sentenced to death on March 28, 2001.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Denied direct appeal in 2004.

    Opinion here


  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Personal Inmate Information

    DOB: 06/03/1967
    Race: Black
    Gender: Male

    Crime and Trial Information

    * County of conviction: Drew
    * Number of counts: One
    * Race of Victim: White
    * Gender of Victim: Male
    * Date of crime: 04/02/2001
    * Date of Sentencing: 03/28/2002

    Legal Status

    Current proceedings:
    Rule 37 post‐conviction proceedsing; CR 09‐548


    Jeffrey Marx Rosenzweig

    Court Opinions

    Isom v. State, 148 S.W.3d 257 (Ark.), cert. denied, 125 S.Ct. 204 (2004). Isom v. State, CR08-1386 rule 37 denied, Isom v. State, CR09-548 DNA denied (12/16/2010)

    Legal Issues

    (1) whether evidence was sufficient to support conclusion that defendant caused death of victim in course of
    committing several felonies, as necessary to support conviction for capital murder;
    (2) whether trial judge abused his discretion in refusing to allow defendant's counsel to attempt to rehabilitate
    prospective jurors by additional voir dire;
    (3) whether prosecutor's proffered explanation for peremptory strike of African‐American juror was race‐neutral;
    (4) whether defendant was entitled to instruction on ordinary robbery as lesser‐included offense of aggravated
    robbery; and
    (5) whether the aggravating circumstance that capital murder had been committed for purpose of avoiding or
    preventing arrest was properly submitted to jury.

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Supreme Court rejects Arkansas death-row inmate's request for new DNA testing

    The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied a death-row inmate's request for additional DNA testing that he claims could exonerate him.

    Kenneth Isom was sentenced to death for the 2001 murder of a Drew County man and for raping the man's elderly caretaker. The court noted that DNA testing conducted on a hair found on the rape victim's body was consistent with Isom. Isom had requested that the hair be compared to 2 other men related to him who he says were suspects in the crime.

    The high court noted that Isom hadn't been excluded as a source of the DNA found in the hair and that the rape victim positively identified her attacker.

    DNA opinion

    Rule 37 opinion

    (Source: The Associated Press)

  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On March 1, 2011, Isom filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.


  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Isom's petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was DENIED.

  7. #7
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Death-row inmate wins new hearing

    In a 4-3 decision, the court granted a petition by Isom to send his case back to Drew County Circuit Court for new proceedings to consider his claim that the state withheld evidence about a possible alternate suspect that the defense might have been able to use during Isom’s trial.

    Isom, now 47, has been sentenced to death in the April 2, 2001, slaying of Bill Burton, 79, and to life in prison in the rape and attempted murder of a female victim, then age 72. The woman told police Isom entered Burton’s home armed with a pair of scissors and that she received a cut to her hand from the scissors while struggling with Isom.

    Isom’s attorneys planned to call prosecutors to the stand at his trial. The state filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, and a pre-trial hearing was held.

    Drew County Deputy Prosecutor Frank Spain testified at the hearing that he was told by an attorney for Kevin Green, then a Drew County jail inmate, and some of the officers investigating the case that Green claimed to have information about the weapon in Burton’s slaying — a weapon that might have been linked to someone other than Isom.

    Spain testified at the hearing that he went to a house where the weapon was supposed to be, but “no item was found.” A circuit judge ruled for the state, and Isom was not allowed to call the prosecutors as witnesses.

    After Isom was convicted and sentenced, he filed a petition alleging that he had received ineffective counsel. At a hearing on the petition, Spain testified that, based on information provided by Green, he went to a home and found a pair of scissors, but the state Crime Lab found nothing on the scissors connecting them to the crime.

    “Given that Spain, under oath, has testified to two different versions of the facts, we are compelled to have the circuit court conduct an evidentiary hearing, as we are not in the position to exalt one version over the other,” Justice Josephine Hart wrote in the court’s majority opinion.

    Justice Paul Danielson said in a dissenting opinion that although Spain’s testimony was contradictory, the defense was not prevented from learning of the existence of Green and his claims.

    “It is clear that trial counsel was well aware of the existence of Kevin Green and the potential information that he might have possessed, and counsel could have made use of this information in defending Isom,” Danielson wrote.

    Danielson also said in the dissenting opinion that there was an abundance of evidence to support Isom’s conviction and that it “does not stand to reason” that if Spain had mentioned the discovery of the scissors at the pre-trial hearing, the outcome of the trial would have been different.

    Chief Justice Jim Hannah and Justice Courtney Goodson joined in the dissent.

    The Supreme Court also rejected, unanimously, a petition by Isom arguing that errors have occurred in his appeals process and that he is not competent because of a stroke he suffered while incarcerated and therefore should not be executed.

    Justice Karen Baker wrote in the court’s opinion that Isom had failed to show errors signifying a breakdown in the appeals process and that because no date has been set for his execution, his claim that he is incompetent is not yet ripe for review.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  8. #8
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    On November 25, 2019, the United States Supreme Court DENIED Isom's petition for certiorari. Justice Sotomayor dissented.

    Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Arkansas
    Case Numbers: (CR-17-1003)
    Decision Date: December 20, 2018
    Rehearing Denied: January 31, 2019



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