Homicide defendant Chandler calls prosecutor, self to witness stand

Dana Chandler
Dana Chandler(WIBW)
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 4:01 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - In seeking to overturn two counts of first-degree murder, defendant Dana Lynn Chandler called two witnesses to testify on Monday, including the prosecutor who convicted Chandler in 2012 of the two shooting deaths.

Chandler, acting as her own defense attorney, also called herself to sit in the witness chair to testify.

Chandler is seeking dismissal of the murder charges based on an alleged violation of the double jeopardy clause.

“The double jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for substantially the same crime,” according to the Legal Information Institute of the Cornell Law School.

During the Chandler trial in 2012, former Shawnee County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqie Spradling spearheaded the prosecution of Chandler. She testified as a witness on Monday.

Spradling was interviewed by journalists from “48 Hours,” the CBS news magazine.

Spradling said she couldn’t testify whether the taped interview was accurate, adding she didn’t remember details from the interview by “48 Hours” eight years ago.

Spradling faces a formal complaint filed by the state Disciplinary Administrator’s Office, in part tied to the Chandler case.

At times, Spradling asked Chandler to provide Spradling with an up-to-date disciplinary complaint when Chandler asked Spradling a question because certain charges in the disciplinary action have been dropped.

Slaying Victim Michael Sisco, divorced husband of Chandler, had obtained a restraining order against Chandler, Spradling said.

Deputy District Attorney Brett Watson said Spradling hadn’t violated any rules during the Chandler trial and hadn’t done anything in bad faith.

Spradling is the Bourbon County Attorney in southeast Kansas.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios will issue a written decision.

The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the convictions of Chandler in 2018.

When Chandler was in the witness chair, she took issue whether she should be re-tried, saying a Kansas Supreme Court document didn’t say she was to be tried again.

Rather, the Supreme Court order said she was to face “further proceedings” in Shawnee County District Court, Chandler said.

Chandler also contended that Shawnee County District Court Judge Nancy Parrish, the first of three judges to handle Chandler’s case, made improper remarks during the jury trial.

Rios said nothing shows that Parrish was anything but a “neutral arbiter” when Parrish handled the Chandler case.

The 60-year-old Chandler is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the July 7, 2002, shooting deaths of Sisco, Chandler’s 47-year-old former husband, and his fiancee, Karen Harkness, 53.

The two were slain in Harkness' west Topeka home.

Each victim bore a number of gunshot wounds when they were found in the basement.

Following a lengthy trial in 2012, a jury convicted Chandler of two counts of first-degree murder, and she was sentenced to two consecutive 50-year prison terms, a total of 100 years.

Chandler issued 200 subpoenas seeking information. WIBW reporter Steve Fry was served with two subpoenas, but attorneys at Gray Television Inc., owner of WIBW, opposed the subpoenas, and they were quashed.

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