Chandler challenges expert witnesses in double murder re-trial

Dana Chandler (WIBW)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Dana Lynn Chandler, who will be retried in the 2002 shooting deaths of her former husband and his girlfriend, asked a judge on Friday to issue an order to block a firearms expert from testifying in her upcoming trial.

Chandler said Amy Coody, a firearm and tool mark examiner with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation who testified in Chandler's first trial, is no longer a firearm expert with the KBI, Chandler said.

Chandler said Coody testified in court as a KBI expert for some years but now works in Florida. Coody is listed as a senior management analyst with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Chandler, 59, is acting as her own attorney.

Chandler's request is one of a series of challenges of witnesses summoned by prosecutors in the re-trial that is scheduled to start in Shawnee County District Court on Sept. 16. Senior District Court Judge Robert Fairchild, a retired Douglas County District Court judge, will handle Chandler's second trial.

Fairchild said he would review the transcripts of eight witnesses, including Coody, all of whom testified during Chandler's first trial in 2012 to determine whether they will be allowed to testify as expert witnesses during the Chandler re-trial.

The judge will conduct a full-day hearing on July 12 to determine whether three other people will be allowed to testify as expert witnesses during the Chandler re-trial. The three didn't testify during Chandler's first trial.

Of the three, one is a mechanic who removed a seat from a Mitsubishi Eclipse automobile as part of the earlier murder investigation and would testify whether the seat was original equipment in the car. The judge said that sounded like testimony from an expert.

At another point on Friday during the hearing, Chandler asked the judge to issue sanctions against the district attorney's office, alleging she hadn't been provided with all discovery so she could prepare for the re-trial.

Among the defense sanctions that Chandler sought were blocking prosecutors from presenting expert witnesses during the re-trial, Chandler said. The judge didn't rule on Chandler's request.
On May 24, the judge scheduled the deadline for Chandler and prosecutors to file motions as of June 28.

Friday was the first court hearing that Chandler's new standby counsel, Jonathan Phelps, appeared in court with Chandler. Phelps replaced KiAnn Caprice, who was the third standby counsel assigned to aid Chandler and was appointed to that post on Aug. 14, 2018.

Chandler is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the July 7, 2002, shooting deaths of Michael Sisco and Karen Harkness in her west Topeka home. Each was shot at least five times.