|David Ison is serving five life without parole sentences for the 2011 murders of five people in Laurel.|
(Brookville, Ind.) - The Laurel Five murder case in Franklin County is causing controversy in the race for Franklin Circuit Court Judge.
David Ison is serving five life sentences for the murders of Roy and Angela Napier, their grown children Melissa and Jacob, and family friend Henry Smith. Detectives said Ison slayed the family because Roy Napier had raised the price of prescription pills he was illegally selling to Ison.
Republican Judge Steven Cox is in a fierce re-election battle with Democrat Tammy Davis, a Brookville attorney. On her campaign website and in newspaper interviews and advertisements published since July, Davis has blamed Cox – who has been in office since 1994 - for allowing Ison to be out of jail at the time the Laurel Five murders were committed September 25, 2011.
In 2010, convicted killer David Ison was in prison for a probation violation on a burglary conviction from 1990. A 2008 conviction for counterfeiting led to the probation violation
The newspaper reports Cox held a public meeting in his courtroom last week to set the record straight on the Ison matter. He said that he did allow Ison to go free on July 15, 2010 because Ison had earned education credits while serving his jail term. Had Ison not been granted early release to probation, his sentenced would have ended only 68 days later on September 21, 2010, Cox said at the meeting. That’s more than 15 months before the murders.
“Steve Cox has not offered a reasonable explanation for letting David Ison out of prison... because there isn't one. It was a reckless and irresponsible decision,” David claims on her campaign website.
“That statement is inaccurate,” Cox said.
In yet another point of contention, it was possible that Ison could have received a longer prison sentence if not for the plea agreement negotiated by his appointed public defender for the 2008 counterfeiting case, that same Tammy Davis.
Ison faced a Habitual Offender enhancement on top of his counterfeiting conviction, which could have added several years to his sentence. Davis managed to get the charge dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Davis said she had a responsibility to serve her client, Ison, to the best of her ability, but Cox could have rejected the plea agreement.
Cox said he could not have known the future when accepting the plea or shortening Ison’s sentence by 68 days.
“If you want to play the slippery, hypothetical game with the actual record of this court, you can do it,” Cox said at the meeting. “You can say I should have been smarter and somewhere on this board is a crystal ball that I could have utilized and known that David Ison was going to do what he did.”
Davis has also claiming that Cox’s meeting held in the courtroom was an abuse of power and taxpayer money. Cox said the meeting had been cleared by a judicial commission, according to the newspaper.