Computer, firearms examiners testify Wednesday morning in Dana Chandler trial
Dana Chandler trial enters Day 4 in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Testimony began Wednesday morning in Day 4 of the Dana Chandler retrial in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka.
Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios called the court into session at 9:14 a.m.
At the outset of Wednesday morning’s proceedings, Rios announced a person who had been serving on the jury was released after the woman’s husband tested positive for COVID-19.
Twelve jurors and five alternates were sworn in for duty when the retrial began Friday, Aug. 5.
Chandler was arrested in 2011 and charged with the July 7, 2002, murders of her ex-husband Mike Sisco, 47, and his fiancé Karen Harkness, 53, at a home at 2231 S.W. Westport Square in west Topeka.
Though she has maintained her innocence, Chandler, now 62, was convicted in 2012.
Testimony indicated Harkness had been shot five times and Sisco seven times while they were in bed in the basement of the residence, located just southeast of S.W. 21st and Wanamaker.
However, in 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, citing misconduct by former prosecutor Jacqie Spradling, who has since been disbarred.
Chandler, who previously was in the Topeka Correctional Facility after her 2012 conviction, has been in the Shawnee County Jail since May 18, 2018.
The state’s prosecutor is Charles Kitt, chief of staff for the Shawnee Co. District Attorney’s Office.
Chandler is being represented by lead defense attorney Tom Bath, of Leawood. Tricia Bath and Mark Hartman also are serving as a defense lawyers for Chandler.
The first two witnesses on Wednesday morning were Topeka police Det. Jeremy Warren and Amy Coody, a former firearms and toolmark examiner with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, both of whom worked on the Harkness and Sisco homicides.
Under questioning, Warren testified he examined files in 2018 from two separate computers in connection with the Harkness and Sisco homicides.
Coody, who now works in Florida, said she examined 11 case cartridges and bullets as part of the double-homicide case when she was working with the KBI.
Under questioning by Kitt, Coody discussed impressions made in bullets that are discharged from firearms.
Unique marks or “striations” are left in cartridge --or shell -- casings and bullets after they have been fired, she said.
After a morning recess, court was reconvened around 10:40 a.m. with Coody continued testifying and said she examined a total of 18 bullets and fragments. Of that number, Coody said, 13 came from the same gun; two were “inconclusive”; and three were of “no value.”
Under questioning from Bath, Coody said it wasn’t possible to determine if all of the cartridge casings, bullets or fragments were fired from the same weapon -- and that they could have come from two or possibly even three weapons.
Hair on a shell casing was discovered later. Coody said she didn’t see the hair when she examined the shell casings or bullets under a microscope.
Chandler’s retrial got underway Friday afternoon, Aug. 5.
It continued on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 8 and 9.
Testimony through the first three days of the trial included former Topeka police officers; former neighbors of Harkness in the 2200 block od S.W. Westport Square; a former employee of the Sac ‘N Fox Casino, where Harkness and Sisco went the night before they were killed; and former Shawnee County deputy coroner Dr. Donald Pojman, who performed the autopsies on Harkness and Sisco.
Chandler’s first trial attracted national media coverage, including on the CBS program “48 Hours.”
Chandler’s ongoing retrial also is attracting national media coverage.
The retrial is expected to last up to three weeks.
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