BROOKVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southeastern Indiana man who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting five people during an apparent drug dispute was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole after telling a judge he deeply regretted the killings.
David Ison of Glenwood, Ind., avoided a possible death sentence by unexpectedly pleading guilty last month to murdering an estranged couple, two of their adult children and a neighbor last fall in Laurel, a rural community about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis.
Franklin Circuit Judge J. Steven Cox found during the hearing in Brookville that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt the aggravating factors in the killings, which included the multiple deaths and that Ison was on probation at the time of the Sept. 25 killings, said Prosecutor Melvin Wilhelm.
Mr. Wilhelm said distraught relatives of the victims testified about how the killings had affected their families.
Ison, 46, also addressed the court, telling the judge he was high on drugs when he killed his victims, the prosecutor said.
"He said he was extremely sorry and that had he not been high — he said he had been addicted to drugs for years — he would not have committed these crimes," Mr. Wilhelm said. "But the judge said he did not consider being high on drugs a mitigating factor, and he found that the aggravating factors far outweighed any mitigating factors."
Mr. Wilhelm said he struggled with his decision to not seek the death penalty in exchange for Ison's guilty pleas, noting that some of the victims' relatives were unhappy with his decision.
"I know that some of the family members wanted the death penalty, and I can't fault them for that, but I thought I made the right decision," Mr. Wilhelm said. "I stick by it, but I'm not going to say I'm satisfied."
Ison pleaded guilty to murdering Roy Napier, 50; Napier's estranged wife, Angela, 47; their children Melissa Napier, 23, and Jacob Napier, 18; and neighbor Henry X. Smith, 43.
The victims' bodies were found in or around Roy Napier's home in Laurel.
Prosecutors said Ison was upset that Roy Napier had raised the price of oxycodone pills he was selling because Medicaid was no longer going to pay for Napier's prescription.
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