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Friend says slain man in 2002 double murder feared ex-wife

Jacqie Spradling, left, arrives with her legal team Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, for a hearing into...
Jacqie Spradling, left, arrives with her legal team Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, for a hearing into alleged misconduct during murder and sexual assault cases.(Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector (Custom credit) | Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 8:37 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - In summer 2002, Mike Sisco told a friend he feared he would be killed by his ex-wife, a good friend of Sisco testified on Wednesday during a disciplinary hearing of a prosecutor who prosecuted the murder case.

Sisco’s friend, Kevin Rigsby, said he and Sisco worked together, spent a lot of time together, and each had gone through divorces and obtained the custody of their children.

The two talked over their divorces, venting about their challenges, Rigsby said when he testified before members of the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator Office.

On Wednesday, Rigsby said with certainty that his friend had a restraining order against Dana Lynn Chandler, the ex-wife of Sisco.

Rigsby testified on the third day of the hearing to determine whether prosecutor Jacqie Spradling violated any ethics allegations.

Earlier witnesses in the disciplinary hearing said relatives of Sisco thought he had some type of restraining order, but Rigsby said Sisco had the order. Rigsby said he handled the restraining order after Sisco got it, and they read it in the office at work.

Rigsby testified Chandler “was causing a lot of problems. I kept telling (Sisco) he needed a restraining order,” and Sisco got it.

“He feared for his life,” Rigsby said of Sisco. " ‘If I don’t show up, come looking for me,” Rigsby quoted his friend as saying.

Rigsby said Sisco felt safe with the restraining order, which he said was issued in Douglas County.

But Sisco also called the Lawrence Police Department to ask them what he had to do " ‘because this woman is going to kill me,’ " Rigsby said.

Rigsby was asked whether a judge signed the order, but Rigsby didn’t know if a judge signed it. Rigsby said it was a “legitimate restraining order” and was issued to Sisco before the divorce was granted in about 1999. Rigsby said Sisco lived in Lawrence.

The two men talked about their divorce cases, and both received custody of their children, which caused something of a sensation because fathers didn’t ordinarily get custody of their children, Rigsby said.

The Kansas disciplinary administrator’s office alleges Jacqie Spradling, the Bourbon County attorney, violated rules dealing with candor toward a tribunal, trial publicity that would prejudice a legal matter, and special responsibilities of a prosecutor.

In other testimony, Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Mark Malik said Sisco had a five-minute call with Chandler just days before his death.

During the call, Chandler learned that Sisco was engaged to marry Karen Harkness, Malik said.

The five-minute call was the trigger to the shooting deaths of Sisco and Harkness.

“You look for a trigger,” Malik said. “We believed that phone call was very important.”

Investigators had spotted the five-minute call in records, and Malik questioned who knew about the call.

Malik testified he questioned Shirley Reigel, a sister of Chandler, who had learned from Reigel about the phone call and the engagement of Sisco and Harkness.

Malik said the shooting deaths were “a very personal crime” based on the number of shots and the locations of the wounds on their bodies.

The only thing that triggered the shooting was the phone call two or three days before the slayings, Malik testified.

The complaint filed against Spradling also included her prosecution of Jacob Ewing in Jackson County.

Ewing was convicted of rape and other sex crimes.

Ewing conducted 700 to 800 searches for porn on his cell phone in a two-week period, Malik testified.

“The appearance was that he spent a great amount of time watching pornography,” Malik testified. That amounted to four hours a day, which was “a conservative estimate,” Malik said.

Also on Wednesday, William Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga District Attorney in Syracuse, N.Y., testified he formerly was in charge of murder prosecutions, is head of the New York District Attorney Association, and has been president of a series of prosecutorial associations.

Fitzpatrick knows Spradling through the National District Attorney’s Association, where they lecture. The two aren’t close friends, Fitzpatrick said.

Spradling lectures on trial practice, legal ethics and other topics.

Fitzpatrick examined the complaints filed against Spradling by the disciplinary administrator’s office.

Fitzpatrick said he would emphasize to Spradling to speak with more precise language.

As for the relative of Chandler who gave Spradling “the evil eye” in court during the trial, “just ignore that” and don’t draw attention to the relative, Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said he saw no evidence Spradling had intentionally lied during the Chandler trial or had done anything unethical.

The Spradling hearing is expected to be completed on Thursday, the fourth day.

On Tuesday, the disciplinary administrator’s office completed its case against Spradling. The case originally was expected to last five days.

In 2012, Spradling was the Senior Assistant District Attorney prosecuting Chandler, who was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Harkness and Sisco.

Chandler was sentenced to consecutive sentences of 50 years for each murder conviction.

The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the two murder convictions of Chandler on April 6, 2018.

Spradling prosecuted the case of Chandler, now 60, who was convicted in 2012 in the shooting deaths of Sisco, 47, and Harkness, 53.

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