(Brookville, Ind.) - The man who allegedly murdered five people in Franklin County will not face the death penalty, and many residents want to know why.
On Friday, Franklin County Prosecutor Mel Wilhelm filed an amended charge which will have David Ison facing a possible life in prison sentence if convicted on five counts of murder.
Ison, 46, allegedly shot Roy Napier, Napier’s ex-wife and two grown children, and neighbor and friend Henry Smith at two homes on Stipps Hill Road near Laurel last September 25.
The Fayette County resident massacred the victims because he was upset Roy Napier had raised the price of prescription pills he was selling by $2, Indiana State Police detectives claimed in the affidavit detailing their investigation.
Wilhelm has not publically stated why he decided to forgo the death penalty, but a large reason could be because of the cost.
In 2010, the Indiana state legislature’s non-partisan Legislative Services Agency conducted a study of 92 murder cases across the state between 2000 and 2007, considering the costs of attorneys, expert witnesses, appeals, and other costs.
The analysis of the cost of each type of sentence, from limited years up to the death sentence, determined the cost of prosecuting a death penalty trial was nearly $450,000.
On the other hand, a life in prison without parole trial cost under $43,000.
The death penalty case would have been a large strain on Franklin County’s budget. During meetings leading up to Friday’s revelation, county council and commissioners there had briefly discussed the possibility of a county government shutdown to fund the trial.
According to a report issued by the Indiana Public Defender Council in January, only one in five death penalty cases in Indiana result in a death sentence, and even when they do, it is rarely carried out. For every death row prisoner executed, three more have had their death sentences reversed thanks to appeal.
Ison is also charged with Attempted Armed Robbery for a failed holdup at the G.A. Triplett Pharmacy in Osgood last May.
The Franklin County Prosecutor's Office did not immediately return calls seeking more information Monday morning.
The Legislative Services Agency’s report detailing the costs of murder cases can be found online at http://www.in.gov/ipdc/general/DP-COST.pdf.
The IPDC’s report is available at http://www.in.gov/ipdc/general/indianadpfactsheet.pdf.