Chandler files 3rd change of judge request in retrial of '02 killings

Dana Chandler
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) --- For the third time since she was granted a re-trial in the 2002 killings of her former husband and his fiancee, Dana Lynn Chandler asked the judge to step down from hearing the retrial.

On Monday, Shawnee County District Court Judge Nancy Parrish declined Chandler's request to recuse herself from the retrial.

Chandler, 59, 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.

Immediately after the judge declined to step down from the case, an assistant defense counsel representing Chandler filed an affidavit signed by Parrish to support her motion to change the judge hearing Chandler's retrial.

At that point, the hearing ended, and either Chief Judge Evelyn Wilson or another judge she appoints will review the Chandler affidavit.

The judge reviewing the affidavit will decide whether to order Parrish to recuse handling the retrial.

It's unknown when the request for the recusal will be decided.

In that affidavit, Chandler wrote, "I have cause to believe and do believe that on account of Judge Parrish's personal bias, prejudice or interest, I cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial or fair and impartial enforcement of post-judgment remedies."

Chandler contends the judge has "deep-seated antagonism against me," including her "caustic comments" when the judge sentenced Chandler on Aug. 20, 2012.

During the hearing Monday, the courtroom was cleared of everyone but Chandler, her two attorneys acting as counsel, Parrish and a corrections officer guarding Chandler.

Two prosecutors, two reporters and two supporters of Chandler were required to leave the courtroom. The courtroom remained close to the public for 14 minutes.

Until the recusal motion is resolved, no other motions in the case can be dealt with.

Monday was at least the third time Chandler has urged the judge to recuse herself from handling her retrial.

On May 30, 2018, soon after Chandler's conviction was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court, Chandler wanted Parrish to step down from handling the retrial. Parrish remained on the case.

In the second recusal request, Chandler contended the judge had made "wayward findings" and rulings that are "clear and convincing evidence" the judge is "irreparably prejudiced" against Chandler. That motion was filed Dec. 21, 2018.

According to a time stamp, the third request was filed on Friday in the clerk of the district court. But as of Monday afternoon, the motion to change judge didn't appear on the public access area of the district court web site.

The affidavit seeking the change of judge is 100-plus pages long, most of it supporting documents.

The general grounds for the removal of a judge include the party thinks she can't get a fair and impartial trial due to personal bias, prejudice or interest of the judge.

Following a lengthy trial in 2012, jurors convicted Chandler of two counts of first-degree murder.

But on April 6, 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned Chandler’s 2012 murder convictions, saying an Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqie Spradling, an earlier Shawnee County prosecutor, falsely told jurors that a protection-from-abuse order was filed by Sisco against Chandler in their divorce case.

In the change-of-judge filing on Monday, Chandler said the judge's decision to include the non-existent protection from abuse order in a memorandum decision and order "illustrates her bias and extreme partiality."

The current re-trial date is to start on June 10.