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Oklahoma woman convicted in Topeka double slaying

An Oklahoma woman was convicted Thursday of fatally shooting her ex-husband and his fiance as they slept in a Topeka duplex.

Shawnee County jurors deliberated just 90 minutes before finding Dana L. Chandler, 52, of Duncan, Okla., guilty of two counts of premeditated first-degree murder. Sentencing was set for June 1.

Prosecutors said Chandler was irate when she learned in 2002 that her ex-husband, Mike Sisco, planned to remarry. They said she drove to Topeka from Denver, where she lived at the time, and fired 11 shots at the 47-year-old and his 53-year-old fiance, Karen Harkness. The couple’s bodies were found in a basement-level bedroom in Harkness’ home.

The defense countered that police bungled the investigation into the killings and described the lack of evidence as “overwhelming.”

The killings gained national attention in October 2009 when they were featured on the CBS program “48 Hours Mystery.” Chandler was arrested last July in Oklahoma.

A cuffed Chandler turned to look at her family after the verdicts were read. She had a slight smile on her face.

With his mother standing a few feet away before she was led from the courtroom, Dustin Sisco, the son of Mike Sisco and Chandler, hugged chief deputy district attorney Jacqie Sprading.

During closing arguments Thursday, Spradling told jurors, “Don’t convict an innocent person.”

“Instead,” Spradling said, pointing at Chandler, “convict her because she killed Mike Sisco, she killed Karen Harkness, and she robbed her own children of their father.”

Spradling also had read a letter from Chandler in which she calls her ex-husband “a monster,” refers to him as “it” and accuses him of raping her. Spradling said Chandler felt like she was left on the curb by “someone she wasn’t ready to let go” and that Harkness was keeping them apart

Spradling noted that Chandler harassed her ex-husband and his fiance on the phone, once calling them 33 times in 20 minutes. Upon learning of her ex-husband’s engagement, Chandler called Sisco five times on July 5, 2002, Spradling said. The killings happened two days later.

But Chandler’s attorney, Mark Bennett, said that the state’s case is based on speculation and that there is no evidence that places his client in Kansas at the time of the killings.

“The lack of evidence, I would submit to you, is overwhelming,” Bennett said.

Bennett noted the prosecution’s theory that Chandler bought two 5-gallon gas cans to haul fuel so she wouldn’t have to make any gas purchases that would leave credit card records placing her in Kansas. A police detective testified they found one gas can at Chandler’s apartment in Denver and photographed it but didn’t seize it.

Bennett described failing to collect the gas can as “pretty shabby police work.”

Bennett also pointed out that investigators neither tried to collect fingerprints from the sliding glass door at the Harkness duplex nor tried to collect DNA evidence from cigarette butts outside the duplex.

Bennett said the state made Chandler the suspect because she had a bad marriage with one of the victims and said police should be “ashamed of what occurred in this case.”

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