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Chandler: Block murder expert's evaluation

Posted: November 1, 2011 - 4:29pm By Steve Fry cjonline.com Copyright 2011 CJ Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. http://analytics.apnewsregistry.com/analytics/v2/image.svc/topeka/RWS/cjonline.com/CAI/109702/MAI/109702/E/prodNovember 1, 2011 - 06:29pm

Chandler: Block murder expert's evaluation

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Dana Chandler was arrested and taken into custody on July 25, 2010 charged with two counts of premeditated murder for killing her ex-husband Mike Sisco and his girlfriend Karen Harkness pictured above.

 
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THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Cold case murder defendant Dana Chandler is seeking a court order blocking a consultant to law enforcement agencies from testifying in her preliminary hearing and potentially in her trial.

Chandler is charged in Shawnee County District Court with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder in the slayings of Karen Harkness, 53, and Michael Sisco, 47, who were found shot to death July 7, 2002, in Harkness' southwest Topeka apartment.

Nine years later, on July 25, Chandler, 51, of Duncan, Okla., was arrested in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Duncan. She is the ex-wife of Sisco.

Defense attorney Mark Bennett contends a defense investigator has developed a "previously unknown suspect" in the slayings.

In a motion filed Friday, Bennett focuses on a nearly five-year-old report issued by Vernon Geberth, an expert on homicide investigation who Topeka police hired as a homicide and forensic consultant to review and evaluate reports and materials developed during the Harkness-Sisco investigation.

Geberth issued a 14-page report to police after he "reviewed and evaluated the entire investigation," Bennett wrote.

Geberth didn't conduct any new investigation in the case but gave his opinion on the credibility of investigative methods and the credibility of people interviewed by officers, Bennett wrote. The people include Chandler and potential witnesses to be called by prosecutors and the defense, Bennett said.

The Geberth report wasn't filed with the Bennett motion.

When he retired from the New York City Police Department, Geberth was the commanding officer of the Bronx Homicide Task Force handling 400 slayings a year.

Geberth is author of "Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques" and "Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation: Practical and Clinical Perspectives," which are textbooks.

A story published in April in The New York Times said Geberth had analyzed more than 300 serial killings in the United States. In the story about why three serial killers operated on Long Island in 22 years, Geberth blamed popular culture, saying the "most reprehensible members of society" have been given star status.

Bennett is asking Chief Judge Nancy Parrish to issue orders:

        Prohibiting prosecutors from calling Geberth to testify in the preliminary hearing and trial about his opinions expressed in his report.

        Prohibiting Geberth from conveying the opinions in his report to "any individual, any news agency or any member of the media."

        Prohibiting prosecutors and "all law enforcement agencies" from disclosing the contents of the Geberth report.

Among other recent motions, Bennett is seeking a court order blocking rebroadcast of a segment of "48 Hours Mystery, a documentary crime series, either by the CBS network or CBS stations in Kansas or Kansas City, Mo. The Harkness-Sisco slayings were featured on 48 Hours.

On Dec. 12, a preliminary hearing of up to two weeks will start for Chandler.