Chandler to judge: jurors shouldn't see arrest warrant, other evidence

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Acting as her own attorney, Dana Lynn Chandler asked a judge on Wednesday to block jurors in a retrial from seeing the warrant issued to arrest her in 2011 in the shooting deaths in Topeka of her former husband and his fiance in 2002

Chandler, 59, who is to be re-tried in June, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings on July 7, 2002, of Michael Sisco and Karen Harkness in Harkness' southwest Topeka home. Sisco, the former husband of Chandler, was engaged to Harkness.

On Wednesday, Chandler asked Shawnee County District Court Judge Nancy Parrish to block dozens of pieces of possible evidence from being seen by jurors. The motions in limine were filed by Chandler.
A motion in limine is a request for an order that certain evidence be found inadmissible and that it not be referred to or offered at trial, according to the Cornell Law School.

In the case of the arrest warrant, Chandler contended Topeka police Sgt. Richard Volle, the lead investigator for the case, didn't sign the affidavit of probable cause. Instead police Lt. Kip Lowe signed it, and the arrest warrant should be dismissed, Chandler said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Dunbar opposed Chandler's contention, and the judge denied Chandler's motion to dismiss the arrest warrant.

Chandler also demanded the return of property she said was illegally seized when search warrants were issued on July 25, 2011, the day she was arrested in Duncan, Oklahoma, in the double slayings.

The search warrants included her car, camping trailer, and the home of her sister, Chandler said. Law enforcement officers seized every piece paper from Chandler, including her dogs' veterinary paperwork, Chandler told the judge. When Chandler was arrested in a Duncan fast-food parking lot, the dogs were in her car.

Parrish praised the Oklahoma judge, saying he did an "exceptional job" and was very thorough in reviewing the search warrants.

The Oklahoma judge found probable cause for the search warrants, said Parrish, adding she didn't question that judge's ruling. Parrish denied Chandler's request to return the property and to suppress it as evidence.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chandler and her stand-by counsel appeared to have a dispute at the beginning of an all-day motion hearing.

When the hearing started, Chandler asked Parrish to conduct a hearing in the judge's chambers without news reporters present.

"I need to have a private hearing with the court" and the prosecutor, Chandler said.

Chandler insisted that the reporters should be excluded from the courtroom. A 13NEWS reporter and second reporter were the only people seated in the courtroom's gallery. The judge ordered the reporters to leave the courtroom.

Through a courtroom window, only Chandler, stand-by counsel KiAnn Caprice, who gives legal advice to Chandler, and the judge could be seen speaking. For 29 minutes, the courtroom was closed to the public.

When court resumed, Chandler said at least twice that Caprice hadn't provided advice that she had asked for. The client and attorney had clashed earlier in the case.

In October 2018, Caprice slammed a door following a closed door conference with Chandler. When that motion hearing resumed, Caprice told the judge she would withdraw as Chandler's standby defense counsel.

But by the lunch hour that day, the rift between Chandler and Caprice was resolved, and Caprice remained on the defense team.

Chandler also has asked at least three times -- in writing and verbally -- for the judge to recuse herself from hearing Chandler's re-trial. Another judge examined Chandler's written requests for Parrish to step down, and that judge denied the requests.
The hearing will resume on Thursday.

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

Convicted in March 2012, Chandler was sentenced to two hard-50 prison terms. On April 6, 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the murder convictions based on a finding a prosecutor falsely led jurors to think Chandler violated a protection from abuse order allegedly obtained by Sisco. The abuse order didn't exist.