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Woman’s trial for 2 Kansas deaths ends with hung jury

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Woman’s trial for 2 Kansas deaths ends with hung jury

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas jury announced Thursday that it could not reach a verdict in the trial of a woman accused of killing her ex-husband and his girlfriend 20 years ago.

Jurors deliberated for about 35 hours over six days in Dana Chandler’s trial. Chandler, now 62, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of 47-year-old Mike Sisco and 53-year-old Karen Harkness in July 2002, in Topeka.

The jury foreman told Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios that jurors were not able to reach a unanimous verdict in the case, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Thursday’s proceedings lasted only a few moments. A status hearing to determine the next step in the long-running case was set for Sept. 29.

Chandler’s daughter Hailey Sisco, who testified that she believes her mother killed her father, cried while being hugged by prosecutor Charles Kitt.

Defense attorney Tom Bath hugged Chandler, who will remain in custody at least until the status hearing.

Juror Ben Alford told the Capital-Journal that the final vote was 7-5 to convict Chandler. He said votes taken throughout the lengthy deliberations were always close.

Prosecutors alleged Chandler killed the couple because she was jealous of their relationship after her acrimonious divorce from Sisco. Chandler always maintained her innocence, saying she was in Colorado when the victims were killed.

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During closing arguments Aug. 25, prosecutor Kitt acknowledged there was little physical evidence linking Chandler to the crime. But he said obsessive behavior toward Sisco combined with circumstantial evidence should convince jurors that she killed the couple.

“This is not a case that science can solve,” he said. “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.”

Investigators said Chandler spied on Sisco and Harkness, entered Sisco’s home without permission and tried to reconcile with him just weeks before the murders. Phone records shows Chandler called Sisco and Harkness nearly 700 times in the seven months before their deaths.

Bath argued that law enforcement missed the opportunity to investigate other suspects because they focused solely on her. He underlined the limited physical evidence found at the scene and questioned the way it was handled by investigators and forensic scientists.

“How many instances did we see where evidence was not followed up on, not collected or not tested?” Bath asked the jury.

He continued: “We see time and time again, the police ignored evidence. They didn’t follow evidence — they followed their bias.”

Prosecutors stunned court observers last week before closing arguments when they called a woman, Terri Anderson, who said she saw Chandler leaving Harkness’ home on the night the couple was killed — the first time in the two-decade-old case that anyone had placed Chandler at the scene.

Anderson, who lived across the street, testified that she called 911 after hearing gunshots that night, and that she talked to investigators the next day. However, she said she had not talked to police or investigators in the last two decades, and defense attorneys noted that no police records exist to confirm that she called police or that she talked to investigators.

On Thursday, defense attorneys called witnesses who undermined Anderson’s story. Topeka Police Det. Lance Green said Anderson’s testimony that Chandler was at the scene shortly before midnight on July 6, 2002, conflicts with other testimony that Sisco and Harkness were at a casino until at least 1:30 a.m. July 7.

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Chandler was originally charged with the killings after a decade of investigation, and in 2012 was found guilty of two counts of murder. She was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole for 50 years.

The Kansas Supreme Court overturned Chandler’s conviction i n 2018, citing misconduct by prosecutor Jacqie Spradling, who was later disbarred.

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.

According to court records, investigators said nothing was taken from the victims’ home. The gun was never recovered and no fingerprints were found on empty shell casings at the scene. Hairs later taken from Chandler did not match hair and fiber samples at the scene, and no evidence of the crime was found in her car.

However, some family members suspected Chandler, who they said was upset and angry after Sisco initiated their divorce in 1997 and was given full custody of their children.

Chandler was living in Denver, Colorado, when the couple died. She told investigators she was driving and hiking in Colorado when the murders occurred, but stories about her specific routes were inconsistent, with gaps in her credit card receipts and cellphone use, according to court records.

Prosecutors alleged Chandler drove from Denver to Topeka, killed the couple and returned home.

The investigation went cold until 2009. After CBS’ “48 Hours” aired an episode about the unsolved killings, then-Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor appointed a team to investigate cold cases, including Chandler’s.

Chandler, who had moved to Duncan, Oklahoma, to live with her sister, was arrested in 2011 and charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder.

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

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Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

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Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
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Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

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A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

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“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

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Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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