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A Kansas jury could not reach a verdict Thursday in the case of a woman accused of murdering her ex-husband and his girlfriend two decades ago.
Dana Chandler, 67, was charged with two counts of murder in the July 2002 shooting deaths of Mike Sisco, 47, and Karen Harkness, 53, at their home in Topeka.
“This is not a case that science can solve,” prosecutor Charles Kitt said in his closing arguments on Aug. 25. “This case is about jealousy of Mike Sisco. Jealousy that Mike Sisco was able to move on with his life. Jealousy about the new relationship that Mike Sisco had found.”
The Shawnee County jury deliberated for six days before announcing a hung verdict.
Kitt had argued that while there is a lack of scientific evidence in the 20-year-old case, Chandler’s obsession with Sisco after their divorce and circumstantial evidence should convince jurors that she killed the couple. Chandler’s daughter, Hailey Sisco, cried as she testified that she believes her mother killed her father.
Prosecutors also presented a witness who lived across the street from Sisco and Harkness at the time, Terri Anderson, who testified that she saw Chanlder leave their home on the night of the murders — a first in Chandler’s 20-year-long case.
Meanwhile, Chandler’s defense team argued that law enforcement missed chances to investigate other suspects in the years it took them to charge Chandler with the crimes. She was initially found guilty in 2012 and sentenced to life, but the Kansas Supreme Court overturned her conviction in 2018 due to prosecutorial misconduct.
In addition, investigators said nothing was taken from the victims’ home at the time; the gun used in the victims’ death was never recovered; no fingerprints were found on empty shell casings at the scene; and hair and fiber samples taken from Chandler did not match those at the victims’ home. Her car also did not have any signs of a crime, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Chandler’s second trial was delayed after lengthy back-and-forth between prosecutors and the suspect’s attorneys until her trial began on Aug. 5.
The second trial was delayed as Chandler and her attorneys filed numerous motions seeking to exclude evidence, a change of venue and dismissal of the case. The trial began Aug. 5.
A status hearing to determine next steps in the case is scheduled for Sept. 29. Chandler will remain in custody until at least that date.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.