A jury was selected Monday and opening statements were scheduled for Tuesday in the trial of a 23-year-old Windsor man charged with killing and dismembering his parents and then lying about it to investigators.
Chandler Halderson is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and mutilating and hiding a corpse in the deaths of Bart, 50, and Krista Halderson, 53, over the Fourth of July weekend. He’s been in the Dane County Jail since his July 8 arrest with bail currently set at $1 million.
Late Monday afternoon, prosecution and defense attorneys settled on what appeared to be 14 men and four women to hear the case after a day of questioning potential jurors about what they’d heard in the news about the murders that could prejudice them against Halderson and whether there were things going on in their lives that could make it difficult to serve on a jury for the three to four weeks the trial is expected.
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Defense attorney Crystal Vera also probed whether jurors understood Halderson’s right not to testify and Circuit Judge John Hyland explained the concept of beyond a reasonable doubt, among other matters.
While 18 will hear the case, only 12 will be tasked with reaching a verdict after six alternates are chosen at random and dismissed once closing arguments are over. With the omicron variant of the coronavirus surging, the court is trying to prepare for the possibility that some jurors could take ill or there could be other pandemic-related reasons they have to drop out.
Local and national media outlets are planning to livestream parts of the trial after Hyland in November turned down a request from Halderson’s attorneys to bar livestreaming. National outlets Court TV and the Law & Crime Live Trial Network are among them. The Wisconsin State Journal will not be livestreaming the trial.
An attorney for a coalition of media outlets had argued they be allowed to livestream all the proceedings in the case, including when the jury is out of the courtroom and attorneys and the judge are discussing legal procedures or evidence.
Hyland instead is restricting the livestream to when the jury is in the courtroom. As in other trials, media will still be allowed to record and air all of the proceedings, but only when the jury is in the courtroom will they be able to broadcast proceedings as they’re happening. There are also restrictions on showing jurors’ faces and the faces of those in the gallery.
Prosecutors say Halderson spun a “web of lies” after reporting his parents missing on July 7, when he said they didn’t return to the home the three shared after his parents visited the family cabin in northern Wisconsin.
Bart Halderson’s torso was found a day later in rural Dane County, and six days after that investigators found remains later identified as Krista Halderson’s along the Wisconsin River in Sauk County. Bart Halderson had been shot once before being dismembered, the Dane County medical examiner found.
The criminal complaint in the case has not identified a motive for the killings.
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