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Judge: prosecutors not in contempt in Chandler re-trial

Dana Chandler (WIBW)
Dana Chandler (WIBW)(WIBW)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 5:22 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Prosecutors in the re-trial of Dana Lynn Chandler, who is charged in the shooting deaths of two people, aren’t in contempt of court when they didn’t file answers to a Chandler motion, the Shawnee County District Court judge hearing the case wrote.

Chandler is acting as her own defense attorney in her re-trial.

Chandler’s “allegation that the state is in contempt is without merit,” District Court Judge Cheryl Rios wrote in a court ruling.

Whether prosecutors “decide to respond to a motion is their prerogative,” Rios wrote. “Only if a party wants to be heard on the issues of a motion should they respond.”

Chandler’s “claim that the state is in contempt for not filing a response to her motion is without merit,” Rios wrote.

In another matter, Chandler alleged that prosecutors were withholding documents from the defense.

Chandler’s claim is based on a letter sent by Lea Dawn Welch, the court administrator, in which she stated, " ‘Based on his own records (Chief of Staff Charles) Kitt thought that Judge (Terry) Bullock had been presented in 2002 with the request for an inquisition into the (Mike) Sisco and (Karen) Harkness homicides.’ Because of this statement, (Chandler) believes that documents are being withheld from discovery," Rios wrote.

Sisco was 47, and Harkness was 53.

Rios wrote that Kitt’s alleged statement “is not sufficient to show that (prosecutors) have been withholding documents. Because the court has possession of documents doesn’t mean (prosecutors)have those same documents,” the judge wrote.

"Defendant’s speculation does not support a conclusion of a ‘lack of candor to the court,’ " Rios wrote.

The judge’s ruling didn’t specify what the alleged withheld documents were.

The judge in charge of the double-murder re-trial of Dana Lynn Chandler

Rios denied Chandler’s request for more time beyond the October 23 hearing date.

Chandler has two standby defense attorneys, Paul Oller, of Hays, and Cyndy Short, of Riverside, Mo.

Oller and Short don’t sit at Chandler’s table during court hearings but are in the courtroom.

Defendants representing themselves “are held to the same standards of an attorney and are required to follow the procedural rules of the court,” Rios wrote.

“Defendant’s request to continue motions set for hearing on October 23, 2020, is denied,” the judge wrote.

The judge’s rulings were issued by the judge on September 17.

Chandler is charged with two counts of first-degree murder on July 7, 2002, shooting deaths of Sisco and his fiancee, Harkness.

Sisco and Harkness were slain in the Harkness west Topeka home.

The bodies of Harkness and Sisco each bore a number of gunshot wounds when they were found in the basement of the Harkness home.

Following a lengthy trial in 2012, a Shawnee County District Court jury convicted Chandler of two counts of first-degree murder, and she was sentenced to two consecutive terms.

But the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the convictions in 2018.

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