James Michael Isom
Multnomah County - Oregon
Sentenced to death: 12/29/1986
Isom fatally stabbed Barbara Maher, 34, in a Portland motel room in
1986. They had spent much of the day drinking. Isom claimed that he had
little memory of the incident but said he acted in self-defense after
Maher and an unidentified man tried to rob him.
Interesting fact: A Korean War veteran, Isom once was assigned to
gather the frozen body parts of fallen comrades.
Status: Died of cancer in 1997 while his death sentence was on
Inmate James Isom Dies
Death Row inmate James Michael Isom died of natural causes this
morning in the infirmary at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. He
The time of death was 4:20 a.m. and was caused by metastatic cancer.
Mr. Isom was sentenced to death on December 26, 1986 for aggravated
murder in Multnomah County. He was resentenced to death on October
12, 1989. A death warrant for his execution was issued on August 24,
1992 and an execution date was set for November 7, 1992.
Initially Mr. Isom was not going to pursue any appeals, but changed
his mind and filed a petition for post conviction relief on August
31, 1992. Had he not, he, rather than Douglas Franklin Wright (who
was executed on September 6, 1996), might have been the first person
executed in Oregon since 1962.
In addition to having the longest tenure on death row since the death
penalty was reinstated in 1984, Mr. Isom was also the oldest inmate
on death row. There are currently 20 inmates sentenced to death in