Chandler wants second postponement before murder retrial

Dana Chandler
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Double murder defendant Dana Lynn Chandler has filed a series of motions to postpone her retrial for up to 60 days, to hire an investigator and more expert witnesses, and to ask a judge to find prosecutors in contempt of court.

Chandler, who is acting as her own defense attorney, and prosecutors from the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office will appear in Shawnee County District Court on Friday to resolve those motions.

Chandler, 58, is charged with fatally shooting her former husband, Mike Sisco, 47, and his fiancee, Karen Harkness, 53, on July 7, 2002. Each victim was shot at least five times as the two slept in her west Topeka home.

On April 6, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned Chandler’s 2012 murder convictions, saying an earlier Shawnee County prosecutor falsely told jurors that a protection-from-abuse order was filed by Sisco against Chandler in her divorce case.

Chandler contends a number of pending motions haven't been resolved yet, including appointment of more defense expert witnesses, obtaining an unredacted copy of a CBS video recording of all of Chandler's 2012 jury trial, recorded interviews during the investigation in July 2011, and a recorded phone conversation between Chandler and her daughter a day after the slayings.

Chandler said her defense hadn't received 10 discs of evidence and 1,200 pages of longitude and latitude cell tower records.

District Court Judge Nancy Parrish granted a defense-requested continuance on Sept. 21. With that continuance, the retrial was to start on Jan. 29 with jury selection.

Chandler requested a second trial postponement "not to exceed 60 days," which would make the trial's start-up date in late March or early April.

In another motion, Chandler asked the judge to find the prosecution in contempt of court based on what she called "the state's repeated misrepresentation to the court that it has provided full discovery (evidence) to Ms. Chandler," according to the motion.

In seeking the contempt of court finding, Chandler "kindly requests" the judge to issue an order to prosecutors to hand over the discovery and to impose sanctions, including disqualifying the district attorney's office from the case and to appoint a special prosecutor, the Chandler filing said.

Meanwhile, Chandler has viewed a series of pieces of evidence that she requested to see. Parrish, the judge, signed an order file-stamped Nov. 26 to allow Chandler to view the evidence in Parrish's courtroom on Nov. 30. The police evidence custodian was ordered to remain in the courtroom to monitor the viewing, court records said.

On Oct. 3, Chandler filed a motion to look at evidence in the case, and prosecutors said they were willing to assist Chandler and suggested she make a list of what she wanted to view within the courtroom, court records said.

The records Chandler requested to look at included Mike Sisco's divorce file, the Topeka police lead investigator's case file notebook, a photo of trajectory rods, various notebooks, some recorded Chandler phone calls, CDs and DVDs, audio cassette tapes, VHS tapes, cell phones, search warrant photos, and a shotgun.

During the trial, a witness testified Chandler bought a shotgun for Sisco for his birthday or their anniversary after the two were divorced. During the investigation, police recovered 9mm shell casings and projectiles tied to the slayings of Harkness and Sisco.

Chandler also has filed motions to retain an investigator, a DNA expert, and a photograph and audio-video recordings media expert.

Chandler earlier hired a state-funded firearms expert to examine and evaluate ballistics materials. Parrish's court order instructed the Kansas Board of Indigents' Defense Services to fund the firearms expert.