It’s back to square one for prosecutors as jurors fail to break a deadlock in murder defendant Dana Chandler‘s retrial. The judge in Shawnee County, Kansas, declared a mistrial after the jury spent six days deliberating on the 62 year old’s case, according to CBS News.
She was previously convicted in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing her ex-husband Mike Sisco, 47, and his fiancée Karen Harkness, 53. Authorities said the couple were both shot multiple times with a 9mm on July 7, 2002, when they were in bed in Harkness’ basement, according to reports. Sisco was shot seven times. Harkness was shot five.
But the Kansas Supreme Court tossed out the conviction in 2018. The courts found misconduct in the 2012 case by former Shawnee County chief deputy district attorney Jacqueline “Jacqie” Spradling. She was disbarred in May for misconduct in Chandler’s case and the 2017 rape conviction against Jacob Ewing.
“Respondent failed in her obligation to act as a minister of justice in her prosecution of Dana Chandler,” the majority said in their 98-page opinion. “She ignored the order of a district court, repeatedly made arguments to the jury that lacked any evidentiary support, intentionally lied to this court in her briefs and in oral arguments, and made false statements during the disciplinary investigation.”
Ewing ultimately took a plea deal in 2021 for 10 years in prison, having been sentenced to 27 years behind bars in his prior conviction. Chandler, who reportedly remained behind bars on a $1 million bond since her 2011 arrest, still fought for acquittal.
Prosecutors, including Shawnee County deputy district attorney Charles Kitt, reportedly argued she had the motive: “jealous, rage, and obsession,” as reported by CBS News. She allegedly stalked her ex-husband.
Friends and family described a tense relationship.
Their daughter, now-grown Hailey Seel, testified about her parents’ 1997 divorce, according to WIBW. She said her mother once yelled at her father on the sideline of a soccer game.
“She yelled from across the field at my dad, calling him just terrible names, right in front of all my teammates and all the parents,” Seel said. “It was really embarrassing.”
Mark Boots testified he was good friends with Sisco and met him in 1978. He said he last saw him June 29, 2002 during a fishing trip in the Ozarks.
“Mike told me that the patterns of harassment had increased and that he feared for he and Karen’s lives,” Boots reportedly testified regarding Chandler’s alleged behavior.
The prosecution argued there was no signs of force entry or burglary at Harkness’ home.
But the defense, including attorney Tom Bath, asserted the police investigation was incompetent and biased, flawed by tunnel vision, according to CBS. Investigators missed opportunities to test the limited forensic evidence, Bath said, maintaining that what physical evidence existed excluded Chandler.
John T. Wilson, retired crime scene investigator with the Kansas City Police Department, testified that Bath asked him to reconstruct the crime scene and determined the shooter was 5-feet-11 at minimum, based on the trajectory of the shots, according to WIBW. He said Chandler was 5-feet-6.
Also at issue was Terri Anderson, who did not testify in the first trial. She said that she stepped forward with information the previous several weeks after seeing news reports and talking with a client, according to WIBW. Anderson, who said she knew Hailey from church, said she was a neighbor of Harkness’ during the murders and said she called 911 about 15 minutes after hearing gunshots, and she saw a person she believed to be Chandler. Bath attacked her credibility. Topeka police representatives said they could not find records of that 911 call or reports of police visiting after the call, according to CBS News.
Chandler declined to testify. It is unclear if prosecutors will push for another retrial.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
[Screenshot via WIBW]
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