Ret. Douglas Co. judge to take over Dana Chandler case

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- A retired Douglas Co. District Court judge has been tapped to take over Dana Chandler’s retrial.

Sr. Judge Robert Fairchild will preside over the coming double murder trial, according to the Shawnee Co. District Court. He replaces Shawnee Co. District Court Judge Nancy Parrish, who was first assigned to the case in mid-2011 when Chandler was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the then nine-year-old cold case.

Parrish told 13 NEWS she was stepping down because she is about to undergo open-heart surgery. She submitted a one-paragraph request for the case to be reassigned to Chief Judge Evelyn Wilson. Parrish's diagnosis requires open-heart surgery followed by an estimated absence from court for five to six weeks. The surgery is scheduled to be done in June, the Parrish letter to the chief judge said.

Chandler, 59, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the July 7, 2002, shooting deaths of Michael Sisco, her former husband, and Karen Harkness, Sisco's fiancee, in her west Topeka home. Each was shot at least five times.

As of Thursday, the Chandler re-trial remains scheduled to start on June 10. The trial is expected to last six weeks.

Chandler's request to move the trial at least 100 miles away from Shawnee County hasn't been dealt with. In that motion, Chandler contends she can't get a fair and impartial trial in Shawnee County and must be moved at least 100 miles.

The Chandler convictions in the 2012 trial were overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court on April 6. 2018, based on prosecutorial misconduct.