Murder defendant Chandler says she faces 'double standard,' beefs with prosecutors

Dana Chandler (WIBW)
By  | 

TOPEKA, Kansas -- Dana Lynn Chandler, acting as her own defense attorney in her re-trial on charges she killed her former husband and his girlfriend, and prosecutors scrapped back and forth on what motions the two sides were handling on Friday.

Chandler, 59, is charged in the July 7, 2002, shooting deaths of her former husband Mike Sisco, 47, and Karen Harkness, 53, in her west Topeka home.

In 2012, a Shawnee County District Court jury convicted Chandler of two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to two 50-year prison terms, but the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the convictions.

On Friday, Chandler and prosecutors had been instructed to address two issues, but Chandler attempted to re-direct the hearing to issues she wanted to address.

Finally, Senior District Court Judge Robert Fairchild had had enough.
"Please, sit down," he told Chandler. "Let's go on to the next one," the judge said referring to the second of two topics scheduled for Friday. "Let me do my job."

At the last hearing, two issues were scheduled to be dealt with on Friday.

One dealt with whether evidence that a person committed a crime or civil wrong on a specified occasion would be admissible as evidence during the re-trial, and the other was whether to issue an order to delete information from the earlier trial.

On Friday, Chandler brought up a defense motion asking Fairchild to enforce what Chandler said was the judge's July 24 order directing prosecutors to make a discovery request directly to the FBI to include hair, fiber and DNA laboratory services provided by the FBI laboratory and citing a specific case number.

Shawnee County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Dunbar said prosecutors weren't prepared on Friday to deal with the FBI evidence question, that prosecutors were ready to deal with the two issues listed earlier by the judge.

At an earlier hearing, Fairchild said prosecutors must file a response if prosecutors object to a motion.

Chandler said Fairchild was "applying a double standard" to her rather than to the prosecutors. Chandler said she wasn't getting timely response on motions she filed, and the judge should grant her an order to suppress some specific prosecution evidence.

Dunbar responded Chandler had filed "a plethora of motions," saying Chandler has filed more than 700 motions and other pleadings, she "floods the system with pleas," and she expects answers in 21 days.

Chandler said she couldn't prepare a defense if the judge allowed prosecutors to present evidence but doesn't require prosecutors to provide specific dates and data.

An example was whether Chandler had stalked victim Mike Sisco, entered his home, looked inside his house, phoned him and other alleged misconduct. At least twice, the judge told Chandler he would review her motion.

"It will be resolved before the trial, in a month or so," the judge told Chandler.

Chandler continued to say she wanted specificity in evidence. At that point, the judge instructed her to sit down.

The next hearing will be on Oct. 17, an all-day hearing when evidence is to be presented.

A date for the re-trial hasn't been scheduled.

Chandler's retrial originally was scheduled to start on September 16, but on July 24, the retrial start-up date was postponed indefinitely until Chandler agrees she has finished filing motions. It was the fourth scheduled trial date for the Chandler retrial.

The Friday hearing lasted 50 minutes.

Chandler remains in Shawnee County Jail in lieu of a $1 million cash or surety bond.