Coroner bores courtroom for hours, testimony yields no clues or evidence indicating the accused.
Phil Anderson – Yesterday 9:47 AM
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Day 3 of the Dana Chandler retrial is underway Tuesday morning in Shawnee County District Court.
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Chandler was arrested in 2011 and charged with the 2002 murders of her ex-husband Mike Sisco and his fiancé Karen Harkness at a home at 2231 S.W. Westport Square in west Topeka.
It should be noticed that in 2002 when the murders first happened and Dana Chandler became a suspect, the then DA Bob Hecht refused to press charges because there simply was not physical evidence and no credible or believable witnesses. The case then went cold for 9 years until the Harkness/Worswick family put enough pressure on DA Chad Taylor to pick up the case and prosecute it, even with no realevidence,.BUT with the “help” of Televisions “48 Hours” crime show that used Hollywood imagery and sound effects and moody scary musioc to convince watchers that Dana was guilty,paitning her up as a crazed jealous psychopath motivated by rage and jealousy (Over a divorce that was over with 4 years previously.) 48 Hours got special access and influence over the investigation and was notified and present when Chad Taylor arrested Dana in Oklahoma. That show tried and convicted Dana long before she went to trial and convinced many people that she was guilty.
Chandler was convicted in 2012.
However, in 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, citing misconduct by former prosecutor Jacqie Spradling, who has since been disbarred.
We should also note that in the earlier trial the prosecution had NO physical evidence that placed Dana Chandler at the crime scene, or even in Kansas, and no eye witness testimoney that could place her in Topeka, or Kansas, either. Victim Karen Harkness’s family is one of wealth and affluence having owned Wolfs CameraShop in downtown topeka and been active in the chamber of commerce and other civic organizations. They used this affluence to convince a politically motivated DA (Or two) to go after Dana Chandler, even though a much more likely suspect was much closer under their own noses.
Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios is presiding over the trial.
The state’s prosecutor is Charles Kitt, chief of staff for the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office.
Chandler is being represented by lead defense attorney Tom Bath, of Leawood. Mark Hartman also is serving as a defense attorney for Chandler.
Chandler’s retrial got underway Friday afternoon, Aug. 5.
It continued on Monday, Aug. 8.
On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the first witness was Peggy Mills, who said she lived near Harkness’ home in the 2200 block of S.W. Westport Square.
Mills testified she saw the garage door open and police cars in front of Harkness’ residence when she was taking her customary morning walk around 5 a.m. Sunday, July 7, 2002.
Mills’ testimoney was rambling and incoherent at times and she readily changed her answers when asked to do so by the prosecution. She answered, “I don’t remember” many times on different issues, but when asked if she perhaps saw the police cars the NEXT day, instead of the morning of the murders, she quickly snapped “No, absolutely not.” with certainty. Which is odd for a woman of 90 plus years to suddenly have that surity of memory about something that happened20 years previously.
Harkness and Sisco were found shot to death around 2 p.m. Sunday, July 7, 2022, in the basement area of their home by family members who had arrived for a fish fry.
Mills said police informed her of the double-homicide around 4 p.m. Sunday, July 7, 2002.
Tuesday’s second witness was Theresa Gartner, who was employed at the Sac and Fox Casino near Powhattan in July 2002.
Gartner, who said she hasn’t worked at the casino since 2010, testified Harkness and Sisco had been at the casino from around 6:50 p.m. July 6, 2002, until around 1:30 a.m. July 7. 2002.
Gartner said two Topeka police detectives came to the casino shortly after the homicides seeking information on Harkness and Sisco.
After reviewing video surveillance, Gartner said there was no indication of any altercations at the casino or that they were being followed by anyone.
This does seem to exclude any sort of crime related to their going to the casino, it does not in any way point to Dana Chandler as a suspect, or of being in Kansas at the time of the murder.
Tuesday morning’s third witness was Leroy Rice, a former Topeka police officer.
Rice testified he was working in the police department’s Crime Scene Investigation unit, who said he photographed Harkness’ and Sisco’s vehicles. He said the photos were taken in the police department’s process stall.
Rice said he found nothing in either vehicle that appeared to be related to the double-homicide.
However, under questioning by Bath, Rice said he received a work order to process the vehicles but no details related to the actual crime, including that a rearview mirror on the side of Harkness’ vehicle appeared to have been moved to an unusual position or details about the garage door being found open at the the home on the morning of the homicides.
As a result, DNA testing and fingerprinting a garage door opener in Sisco’s vehicle or fingerprinting the rearview mirror on Harkness’ vehicle weren’t done, Rice said under questioning by Bath.
And again, none of this testimony pointed to Chandler in any way. While a reporter for the TV Show “48 Hours” was in the court room, it is unknown if they will try to correct the wrongs it committed against Chandler in their first show, when it used “Trial By Media” to convict Chandler in the publics eye.
The retrial went into a 10-minute recess around 10:25 a.m. Tuesday.
Following the recess, John Maragon, of Denver, took the witness stand.
Maragon testified he employed Chandler as a bookkeeper from January to June 2002 at his business in Denver and had assigned her a computer, which she was allowed to take home.
Maragon said the computer was returned to the office where the company was located around noon on Saturday, July 6, 2002.
Again, this was vaguely interesting, but held no real evidentiary value. And speaking of value, the trips and time and money spent getting these witnesses to Topeka for this trial are coming out of the Tax Payer’s pockets. So when you hear a cop or a DA crying that they don’t have the funds and resources to actually prosecute real criminals, this is why. None of this points to Dana as a suspect or places her in Kansas at the time of the murders, however it DOES place her firmly in Colorado very shortly before the murders. And it is noteworthy that the math used to calculate the travel times between Denver and Topeka is often wrong. While we have a tendency to think “The speed limit is 70mph, therefore we devide 70 into 541 miles and get 7.72 hours drive time. HOWEVER, the actual realistic average speed is around 45-50 mph, which gives us up to 12 hours. (Especially considering that stops for gas, or to buy books that will never be read or called into existance, go to the bathroom, or explore the many fascinating angles of every truck stop along the way, construction zones, slow vehicles etc, every stop eats away at your travel time and makes it longer. In my years on the road as a touring musician or sound engineer or roadie, I always count on the trip to or from Denver as being ‘at least 10 hours’ and I personally add 2 hours to make time for emergency stops and traffic stopping to eat etc. For most bands, thats an over-night trip.
The fifth witness on Tuesday morning was former Topeka police detective Ronald Gish, who testified he helped track down computer evidence in the case.
Gish said he asked the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to assist with details related to the computers.
He said he requested and was granted permission from Maragon to get the hard drive from the business computer that Chandler had used.
Additionally, Gish said he requested information from Sprint regarding Chandler’s cellphone usage in hopes it could help pinpoint her location.
Gish’s nervous and at times befuddled testimony yielded no insight into who might have commited these murders, it certainly did not point towards Dana Chandler. And we know from previous trials that the computer disks and phone records do NOT contain anything of relevance or evidentiary value. Nor did the Sprint records pinpoint Dana’s location, or this would have been brought out and paraded through the courtroom triumphantly. Had the computer disks revealed any sort of evidence of any meaning, then the prosecution certainly would have trumpeted that from the roof tops, and made sure it was front page headline news, especially for HBO or 48 Hours…..instead they meekly and quietly ended their questioning. And this leaves us desperately hoping that the jury is smart and astute enough to take notice of the fact that although a cop testified, and said things, none of those things added up to any sort of evidence against Dana. It should also be noted that Ex-Cop Ron Gish is a Q-annon follower who helped organize busloads of people to go to Washington DCon Jan 5th because he believed that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump. Sveral people, including his friend and Topeka Police Dept cop hang-around William Pope were arrested for their parts in the insurrection attempt and are now serving prison time. Gish, who knows no sense of loyalty to his own friends, threw Pope under the bus afterwords to save his own credibility. Gish can also be found most days having lunch with TPD’s Police Cheif Brian Wheels, or protesting in front of the same court house because he believes that Black Lives Matter and the boogieman of “AntiFa” are trying to take the guns and qualified immunity away from police officers, and thinks that No-knock, no announce raids on petty drug dealers should continue, even though they get cops killed. In short, to put it politely, Ron Gish has the imagination and intellectual capacity of a racist little 8 year old.
The trial was recessed at 11:45 a.m. and is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.
Before the jury entered the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon, Judge Rios instructed Keen Umbehr, an attorney who was in the courtroom and who has provided support to Chandler in the past, not to have any contact with the media for the duration of the trial.
This was utterly perplexing and confusing. This reporter did not actually see or hear the judge say this, but it was somewhat confirmed by other people. The doors to the courtroom where unexpectedly locked at this time. ‘Word on the street’ has it that the prosecution got extremely butthurt over something that was published online about the trial. We have not been able to locate any quotes from Keem Umbehr about the trial that might be considered objectionable or untrue. Though much has been written about the trial and the fact that the first convictions where overturned, and that prosecutor, Jaqui Spradling was ultimately disbarred for her “Outrageous and gross behavior” during the first trial. The prosecution must have thrown quite a tizzy to get a judge to tell an experienced and respected trial lawyer not to talk to the media. But then again, Judge Rios has not shown that she is completely unbiased in this case either. A very strange twist in an already twisted and strange case. Did someone post or publish the fact that the prosecution has zero actual evidence and is relying on being able to emotionally manipulate the jury into a guilty verdict, like they did last time (And got over turned) ?
Gag orders are not that uncommon, but they are usually given to an entire group of people, not just one person singled out. Furthermore, most of the media coverage of this trial has been sympathetic to the prosecution, and not to the accused.
Additionally, the judge overruled a defense objection to allow the state to admit as evidence photos showing wounds of Cisco and Harkness.
The photos where “shocking” and “gross” and showed dead naked bodies that had been murdered by multiple gunshot wounds. Not pretty at all. It was argued that ths was needed to show how the crime was committed, however that could have been much more easily and coherently done with simple draw diagrams show entry and exit wounds. But the prosecution knows the value of “Shock and aweing” the jury with such pictures. And because emotion always overrides Intelect, many people might be swayed to believe after seeing these pictures that they prove someone’s guilt. However they do not. As far as guilt or innocence, this testimony and the pictures have zero evidentiary value. They do not speak to WHO might have fired the shots, or why. The prosecution did not offer any further narrative about this. At best it might have served to upset some people in the gallary or on the jury, but it doesnt prove that Dana had anything to do with it.
After the jury was seated, Loretta Moore, a former Topeka resident who lived across the street from Harkness in 2002, answered questions related to an “unfriendly” conversation she said she observed more than two years earlier between a woman and Cisco in front of Harkness’ home.
Of course the persecution tried to IMPLY that this was Dana and Mike Sisco having an argument 2 years prior to the murders in front of the Harkness residence. But she did not and could not recognize that person as Dana. And was Sisco living there 2 years previously? He still maintained his own home and house across town at the time. And the testimony again did nothing to implicate Dana Chandler in the murders. Begging the question: Is this the best that the prosecution has got? Calling up doddering old ladies on Zoom to ask them about things they cleraly not not remember from 20 years ago? Come on! If you are so damned sure that Dana Chandler did it, then where is the evidence? Where are the credible witnesses? I don;t think that gagging respected attorneys is going to help the prosecution’s case, just the opposite: it shows that they are worried, and especially scared of being caught with their pants down pissing in the wind without a scrap of evidence to prove their case.
Among those called to the witness stand Tuesday afternoon was Dr. Donald Pojman, a medical examiner who performed autopsies on Harkness and Sisco.
Photos from the autopsy were shown during Pojman’s testimony.
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.
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