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Judge denies Dana Chandler's request to block jurors from hearing evidence

Dana Chandler (WIBW)
Dana Chandler (WIBW)(WIBW)
Published: Dec. 9, 2019 at 10:44 PM CST
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A judge denied Dana Chandler's request to block jurors from hearing evidence she harassed and stalked her ex-husband and his fiancee.

In a four-page decision, Senior District Judge Robert W. Fairchild wrote, "The court has carefully considered Chandler's motion and finds no reason to alter its prior two orders. Chandler's motion to reconsider is denied."

Chandler will appear in a status conference on Dec. 16, the first time she has been in a Shawnee County District Courtroom since October 17 when she fired her fifth stand-by counsel.

At that time, Chandler was acting as her own attorney. But on October 23, Hays attorney Paul Oller agreed to act as Chandler's attorney in her re-trial.

So far, a date for the retrial to start hasn't been scheduled. When Chandler acted as her own attorney, she repeatedly argued she needed more time to prepare all the motions she wanted to present to Fairchild.

Chandler is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths in 2002 of her former husband Mike Sisco and his fiancee Karen Harkness.

Her challenge focused on two rulings made by Shawnee County District Court Judge Nancy Parrish on February 27, 2012, and April 5, 2019.

In the 2012 ruling, Parrish allowed prosecutors to present evidence Chandler followed and harassed Mike Sisco "including seeking an October 15, 1998, protection from abuse order," entered Sisco's home, argued with Sisco and Harkness, "peeked" into Sisco's home, and frequently phoned the victims day and night.

The court reaffirmed the findings in the 2012 memorandum decision except the ruling permitting the prosecution to introduce evidence "about the nonexistent PFA order" and the "alleged contents" of a five-minute phone call between Sisco and Chandler two days before the murders, the Fairchild order said.

In Parrish's April 5, 2019, memorandum decision, Parrish ruled prosecutors could present the testimony of witness Ann Carrender "to prove plan and preparation " and reaffirming the 2012 memorandum decision.

Chandler had filed a motion on August 16, 2019, to reconsider the 2012 and April 2019 rulings, arguing the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the court's findings.

Chandler contended that prosecutors offered evidence to prove a different motive than the one described by Parrish in her 2012 order.

Parrish said in her order "the evidence the state seeks to admit arguably has relevance to the issue of motive, the motive of preventing Mike Sisco from becoming involved in a relationship with another woman."

But Chandler contends prosecutors offer evidence to prove a different motive.

The Chandler motion says "prosecutors proffered Ms. Chandler's motive to murder 'was to disrupt (Karen and Mike's) lives in any way possible," Fairchild wrote.

In her motion, Chandler wrote, "Why would someone murder someone if (she or he) is motivated by an impelling power to a definite result to 'disrupt' someone's life? Clearly murdering someone would negativize a motive to disrupt someone's life. The disrupted would be no longer within reach to disrupt."

Fairchild said prosecutors will make the same argument it made earlier, including Chandler acted to prevent Sisco from becoming involved in a relationship with another woman.

"This is certainly a different motive than disrupting the lives of Karen and Mike," Fairchild wrote.

Parrish had found the probative value of the evidence outweighed the potential for undue prejudice to Chandler, Fairchild wrote. Fairchild found that "Parrish did not abuse her discretion and properly utilized the test required for the admission of K.S.A.60-455 evidence."

That Kansas statute says evidence of commission of a crime or civil wrong is inadmissible to prove a defendant's disposition to commit another crime on another occasion but is admissible when it's relevant to prove a material fact including motive, opportunity, intent, planning and other factors.

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