What to expect in the trial of Chandler Halderson as additional charges loom

Chandler is charged in the homicide of his father, Bart. But he will likely also be charged for his mom, Krista’s homicide, too.
Chandler Halderson appears in court Wednesday in Dane County.
Chandler Halderson appears in court Wednesday in Dane County.(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 10:36 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - What started as a disappearance case of a Windsor couple, Bart and Krista Halderson, has turned into a double homicide case. With more evidence being discovered and possible new charges, a UW-Madison criminal law expert weighs in on how charges could affect how things unfold in the court of law.

From allegedly reporting his parents missing to the police to telling us his version of where they went, 23-year-old Chandler Halderson is being held for the charges of his father’s homicide and could soon be charged with his mother’s too.

“The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office to add a second count of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, Mutilating a Corpse and Hiding a Corpse to charges against Chandler Halderson,” announced Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett.

Police keep working quickly in the case of Bart and Krista Halderson, but the court side of things will move at a different pace.

“In short it’s slow, and it takes time. And that’s a good thing for the most part because that means we are trying to get the facts right because the stakes are really high,” says UW law professor Cecelia Klingele.

Klingele says it’s common for charges to be added in a fast moving investigation like the Halderson case.

“Often police and prosecutors will decide there’s enough evidence to bring criminal charges in a case, but then they’ll continue their investigation, and as they do so and additional facts are revealed, they may amend their original charging decision,” says Klingele.

And after charges are filed and a case heads to trial, on the outside looking in, it may seem like not much is happening. Klingele says that’s not necessarily the case.

“Most of what will happen next will happen behind the scenes. The defense will try to engage in a process we call discovery where they try to learn more about the evidence in the hands of law enforcement and the prosecution,” says Klingele.

“Although there has been significant progress made, this is still an ongoing and very active investigation,” says Sheriff Barrett.

No matter the change in charges or in evidence, Klingele says there’s one thing that will stay the same.

“Our legal system is built on the assumption of innocence. Until the state has come forward and proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a person has, in fact, committed a crime, we presume they’re innocent.”

The Halderson case has been highly publicized, appearing in the nightly news for almost a month now. Klingele says that doesn’t necessarily mean a trial would be moved out of the county in fear of a biased jury. She says requests like that are rarely granted, adding jurors are often able to separate what they learn outside of court with with the facts presented to them in court.

Chandler Halderson’s next court appearance is September 1, 2021. He will be arraigned in the Dane County Courthouse. That’s when he enters a plea of either not guilty, guilty or no contest.

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