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Kansas Woman Accused Of 2002 Double Homicide Released Ahead Of Third Murder Trial
Dana Chandler was found guilty of the 2002 deaths of her ex-husband, Mike Sisco, and his partner, Karen Harkness. However, the conviction was overturned, and a second trial ended with a hung jury.
A woman long eyed as a suspect in the double murder of her former husband and his fiancée was released from a Kansas jail.
Dana Chandler, 62, posted cash bond on Wednesday following a Sept. 29 status hearing, where Shawnee County District Judge Cheryl Rios reduced her bond from $1 million to $300,000, according to CBS Topeka affiliate WIBW-TV. Chandler was being held at the Shawnee County jail and awaits her third trial for the shooting deaths of ex-husband Mike Sisco, 47, and his partner, Karen Harkness, 53, in July 2002.
Chandler was convicted of two counts of murder and handed a double life sentence in 2012. However, the verdict was overturned in 2018 on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct, and Chandler was granted a retrial.
Her second murder trial began on July 28 and ended on Aug. 25. After six days of deliberations, the jury was deadlocked; seven were in favor of finding Chandler guilty, while five favored an acquittal.
Following the hung jury, Chandler and her lawyers filed a motion to acquit Chandler of the charges, a motion denied by Judge Rios at the September hearing. Rios did, however, reduce her bond and attached conditions to her potential release, including GPS monitoring, random drug and alcohol testing, a weapons ban, and prohibiting Chandler from leaving the state without permission, according to Fox News. Chandler also agreed to live with her nephew while awaiting the third trial.
Sisco and Harkness were found dead on July 7, 2002, by their relatives visiting Harkness’ west Topeka duplex in anticipation of the couple announcing their formal engagement. Sisco was shot seven times, and Harkness shot five; their naked bodies were found in the basement bedroom.
Investigators believe they were sleeping when their attacker pulled the trigger.
Robbery was quickly ruled out as a motive since the killer seemed to ignore valuables around the home, including casino earnings the pair had won the previous evening. It didn’t take long for investigators to look at Dana Chandler, Sisco’s former wife of 16 years.
Dana Chandler — who then lived some 550 miles away in Denver, Colorado — provided investigators with an alibi, stating that she spent half that weekend alone at her Denver apartment and the other half driving and hiking around the Colorado mountains, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
However, no physical evidence linked Chandler to the crime scene, and no arrests were made.
Nine years later, a “48 Hours” TV special ignited renewed interest — and publicity — in the unsolved double homicide, and Chandler was eventually charged with murder.
Circumstantial evidence was presented in the first trial, which saw prosecutors alleging Chandler stalked Sisco following their acrimonious divorce and that she resented having to pay child support for their teenaged children after Sisco was awarded custody, in part. Chandler and Cisco’s children also testified against their mother on the stand.
It was enough to convict Chandler in 2012.
In 2016, her lawyers filed a complaint against prosecutor Jacqie Spradling for misconduct. Spradling accused Chandler of violating a restraining order obtained by Chandler when no such restraining order existed, as decided by the appeals court. Spradling was eventually disbarred after the Kansas Supreme Court found she used an “intolerable pattern of deception” in Chandler’s first trial.
The same circumstantial evidence used in the first trial was introduced in the second, with new prosecutors accusing Chandler of “jealousy, rage and obsession.”
Documents filed Tuesday with the Shawnee County District Court in Topeka show the new trial will take place in Pottawatomie County District Court. Chandler’s defense attorney, Tom Bath, previously filed the motion, requesting that the proceedings take place in a different venue, according to WIBW-TV.
It was also ordered that Judge Rios — who presided over the second trial — will preside over the third trial, scheduled for Feb. 6, 2023. The trial is expected to last about four weeks.