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Chandler Halderson found guilty of killing his parents

Chandler Halderson was found guilty on all counts relating to the homicides of his parents.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:34 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 9:08 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After about two hours of deliberations, the jury has found Chandler Halderson guilty of killing his parents last summer.

The 23-year Dane County man was found guilty on two counts of first degree intentional homicide in the deaths of his parents, Bart and Krista Halderson. He was also found guilty on the charges of providing false information on a kidnapping, two counts of mutilating a corpse and two counts of hiding a corpse.

Chandler Halderson looked straight forward during the reading of the verdict.

The tentative date for a sentencing hearing is March 17 or 18, though the attorneys say they need to get back to the judge.

The court revoked Halderson’s bail, meaning he cannot post bond at any point before his sentencing to be released.

The mandatory sentence for first degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin is life in prison.

Judge John Hyland reads the verdict in the trial of Chandler Halderson, who is accused of...
Judge John Hyland reads the verdict in the trial of Chandler Halderson, who is accused of killing his parents, on Jan. 20, 2022.(NBC15/Pool Camera)

Day nine in the trial of Chandler Halderson started with a rapid-fire of major developments, starting with prosecutors indicating they were done calling witnesses. Next, defense attorneys revealed they did not intend to call any witnesses. That included Chandler Halderson himself, who opted not take the stand in his own defense.

In a statement from Dane Co. Sheriff Kalvin Barrett, he extended sympathies to the family of Bart and Krista Halderson following the reading of the verdict.

“Throughout this investigation and trial, they have been in the forefront of our thoughts,” Barrett said. “This is one of the most extensive investigations the Dane County Sheriff’s Office has faced. Our detectives, deputies and civilian staff worked tirelessly to determine what really happened to Bart and Krista. I could not be more proud of their work.”

He thanked various agencies who assisted over the course of this investigation, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Wisconsin State Crime Lab. He also extended his thoughts to neighbors, friends and family who shared “vital information” during the investigation.

Prosecutors had indicated Wednesday that the end was in sight for them and that they may be finished by the end of that day. By the time Wednesday’s session wrapped up though they had not rested. It was when Thursday began and before the jury was seated that the state told Judge John Hyland that it would not call any more witnesses.

It was then that Halderson’s attorneys stated they would not call anyone, and their client did not intend testify either. Hyland asked the defense if they would go ahead and rest their case immediately as well, so that jurors would not have to come in, only to be dismissed again.

Chandler Halderson leaves the courtroom after the jury found him guilty of all counts in the...
Chandler Halderson leaves the courtroom after the jury found him guilty of all counts in the killing of his parents.(NBC15/Pool Camera)

After they agreed, the jurors needed to be seated to hear the dramatic developments that had already happened Thursday morning, before the clock struck 9 a.m.

FULL COVERAGE of Wednesday’s testimony

With both sides rested, the judge delivered jury instructions, advising them of the law and their role, for each of the eight charges. After receiving the instructions, prosecutors began their final argument, walking jurors through the chronology of their case. The judge noted that these closing arguments are not to be viewed as fact.

The Halderson case

The Halderson Case

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Bart & Krista Halderson were last seen on July 1 by a family member at the couple’s home in Dane County.

Chandler Halderson reported to authorities that his parents were missing on July 7. At that time, authorities believed the couple had planned a trip to Langlade County, Wisconsin over the weekend and family had been unable to confirm that they arrived.

At the time, he told investigators his parents and an unknown couple had left the preceding Friday morning to visit their cabin in White Lake for the July Fourth holiday weekend.

Immediately following the missing persons report, the Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office reached out to their counterparts in Langlade Co. who checked the cabin’s property but found no one there.

The sheriff’s office upped the status of the couple’s disappearance on July 8, calling it “suspicious.” Police arrested Chandler Halderson that day for allegedly providing deputies with false information on a kidnapping.

Human remains were also located July 8 in rural Cottage Grove. The remains were confirmed to be those of Bart Halderson on July 12.

Dane Co. Sheriff Kalvin Barrett noted at that time that investigators had obtained a search warrant for the Halderson home.

“[W]e want to extend our condolences to the Halderson family,” Dane Co. Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said on July 12. “We understand that some of the details of this investigation are very difficult for them to hear and we want to be sensitive to that.”

Shortly after the medical examiner’s report was released, the Sheriff’s Office stated it now considered the missing persons case a homicide investigation. Additionally, three new counts, including first degree homicide, were filed against Halderson’s son, Chandler. At that time, Krista was still considered missing.

Sheriff Barrett explained July 9 that as investigators continued interviewing the Haldersons’ family, friends, and neighbors, they developed information that led them to the location where the remains were found.

Prosecutors noted Monday, July 11 that witnesses claimed to have seen Chandler Halderson multiple times near a wood line outside the rural Dane Co. property, where his father’s remains were later found.

During a court appearance on July 15, Court Commissioner Brian Asmus set bail for Chandler Halderson at $1 million after arguments by prosecutors and Halderson’s attorney.

Defense attorney Catherine Dorl told Asmus her client is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin, has been involved in the Boy Scouts and church groups, and has no prior criminal history. She had asked that bail be continued at $10,000.

The District Attorney’s office also released a 14-page document that day detailing the investigation into the murder of Bart Halderson.

It contains several interviews with Chandler Halderson, friends, family and witnesses. The complaint does not specify when and where Bart Halderson was killed, but it does place Chandler at the site where Bart’s remains were discovered.

According to the complaint, a family friend greeted Halderson when he arrived on her rural property on July 8 in Cottage Grove, where Bart Halderson’s remains were eventually located. The friend asked Halderson if he was OK, and he said he was not OK, and that he was having problems reading words and numbers.

The statement goes on to say Halderson asked to use the pool, the friend said yes, and observed Halderson was gone somewhere between 1-1.5 hours and when he returned, the friend told authorities Halderson was not wet and the pool cover was still intact.

The friend also observed Halderson walking around to a shed nearby on the property, where she could not see what Halderson was doing. She told authorities after that, Halderson took a dip in the pool and “[appeared] to be washing off.”

According to the document, investigators spoke with a friend of Chandler’s, who says he brought Halderson a gun and ammunition on June 12.

During a search of the Halderson home, investigators found casings that would have fired properly from the type of gun Chandler Halderson had obtained from that friend. The complaint does not go into details about the whereabouts of that firearm, or if it has been recovered.

According to the complaint, Halderson went door-to-door and asked to look at home surveillance video from neighbors. An NBC15 News reporter interviewed Halderson on July 8; the day after Bart and Krista Halderson were reported missing, and before Chandler Halderson was arrested.

While in the neighborhood, the reporter saw Halderson doing precisely that, and told the reporter he wanted to see if he could catch a glimpse of his parents leaving the house.

The complaint says Halderson asked at least one neighbor for surveillance video and asked if the camera captured the road or his house.

The document also continually comes back to a foot injury Halderson had bandaged up.

The criminal complaint also revealed that a second portion of human remains had been discovered near Old Hwy 60 along the Wisconsin River, a Department of Natural Resources property, near the Town of Roxbury.

Investigators targeted a new location on July 20 as they searched for Krista Halderson.

The Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office revealed they had been searching the Waste Management landfill, near Johnson Creek, as they searched for her.

On July 22, Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office dive teams and a cadaver dog searched a pond near the home of Bart and Krista Halderson, as the search continues for the latter.

Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Elise Schaffer said they began draining the pond to gain better access in the afternoon. She said a cadaver dog alerted them to certain areas in the pond, but crews had not found anything significant.

The search is not the result of any specific tips, she explained, and searchers went there because of its proximity to the Halderson’s home.

“It’s just an obvious location that we would want to search for evidence or anything that might be related to this crime,” she said.

On Friday, July 30, the Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office confirmed remains located in the Town of Roxbury were that of Krista Halderson. As a result, its investigators asked the District Attorney’s Office to add a second first-degree homicide charges, as well as charges of hiding and mutilating a corpse, against Chandler Halderson, who was already faces the same allegations stemming from his father’s death.

“We have kept the Halderson family in our thoughts and prayers throughout this investigation and we extend our continued sympathies to them today. We ask that everyone allow them to grieve this tremendous loss with the utmost respect and dignity,” Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said that day.

Barrett also noted then that investigators found more human remains on Bart and Krista Halderson’s property. Those remains have not been identified and Barrett did not say if they were found inside the house or outdoors.

According to an updated criminal complaint August 25, it includes new information about when Krista Halderson was last seen and that authorities had found her and Bart Halderson’s cell phones and drivers licenses.

The complaint also releases new information about Krista’s last known whereabouts. Surveillance video shows that Krista left work on Thursday, July 1 around 5 p.m. and arrived home around 5:10 p.m. that day.

The same vehicle later pulls out of the Halderson’s driveway around 8:15 p.m. and stops at a Kwik Trip on the 4300 block of Windsor Drive in the Village of Windsor. A man goes in the store and buys two bags of ice. Authorities do not say who the man is.

Also in the complaint, a sheriff’s deputy states on July 28, he went to the Halderson home to process it. When he went into the garage, he found Krista and Bart’s phones and drivers licenses inside of a pair of shoes, wrapped in tinfoil and paper towels.

Authorities continued, saying they obtained text messages reportedly between Chandler and Krista that were sent on July 4 that discussed that they would be going to a parade, but the parade was actually scheduled for July 3.

Authorities also obtained Chandler’s Google search history, finding searches that referred to bodies being found, bodies being found in southern Wisconsin and his parents’ names. These searches were all made the morning of July 8, prior to authorities finding the remains of Bart Halderson later that day.

Chandler Halderson stood mute in court during his arraignment Aug. 31, leading the judge to enter not guilty pleas on his behalf. Later that night, court documents updated with a schedule of the 23-year-old’s trial dates. He withdrew his demand for a speedy trial.

In November, a judge denied the defense’s motion to prohibit news media from livestreaming court proceedings in the homicide trial. The motion was denied in part after NBC15 and other media groups fought to guarantee the public’s right to information in the trial.

A second motion, proposed to exclude the use of jail recordings and correspondence made by Halderson, was also denied in court.

On Dec. 29, Chandler Halderson appeared in court for a jury status hearing. It would be the final court appearance prior to the start of the trial.

As the state began its closing arguments, it apologized for showing graphic images. Prosecutors contended that the images were necessary for the jurors to see.

The prosecution laid out the timeline of the lies regarding Chandler Halderson’s education and work, reasserting their believed motive that the deaths happened because Chandler Halderson’s father uncovered his “web of lies” about these aspects of his life. The state also explained the events that unfolded after when they believe Bart and Krista Halderson had been killed, such as Chandler Halderson’s location and items he bought, including a tarp and ice, following July 1.

The prosecutor explained the most “eerie” day, in her opinion, of the events that followed the homicides was the day of July 4 when Chandler Halderson seemingly took a pause to live a normal life, attending a holiday barbeque at his girlfriend’s mother’s partner’s home. She finished her timeline by recounting when authorities found the remains of Bart Halderson, noting evidence from the medical examiner showed Bart had been shot at least twice, once with the muzzle of the gun touching his back.

“I’m asking you give justice to Bart and Krista. And I’m asking you to give them the respect their son never gave them,” the prosecutor said as she completed her closing arguments.

Next, the defense reminded the jury that it was their job to ensure the state could prove the charges against Chandler Halderson beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense attorneys admitted that Chandler has told many lies, but said everyone in the room has also likely told a lie and kept it going, particularly in their youth.

She pointed out that the evidence presented will never prove how Krista Halderson died, nor did it show if Bart and Krista Halderson were aware of the claim of Chandler receiving a job at SpaceX or being a member of a dive team. These were both claims Chandler had made to friends and acquaintances, which were later proven to be false.

The defense noted that there is no way to know what consequences could have come from the Halderson couple learning of their son’s lies, which she said makes it hard to prove that Chandler Halderson had intent when it came to the crimes, meaning first-degree intentional homicide would not be the right charge issued by the state.

The defense stated it is also unknown of what type of gun was used in the homicide of Bart Halderson, despite the state’s references multiple times to a rifle found a shed on the Cottage Grove property owned by Chandler’s girlfriend’s mother’s partner.

The defense ending its closing argument by telling the jury that if they are hoping for some solid piece of evidence to tell them what truly happened in this case, then that person has reasonable doubt and should think about that when they are deciding what charges to find Chandler Halderson guilty of.

The state then delivered its rebuttal to the defense’s arguments, arguing that common sense indicates that the killings of Bart and Krista Halderson was not an accident. He called the alleged acts of Chandler Halderson as “the ultimate act of betrayal” one individual could have to another, and to one’s parents.

A prosecutor then accused the defense attorneys of asking the jurors to lie when it came to the verdict, which a defense attorney objected to. Both attorneys approached the judge for several minutes. The judge reminded the jury and the courtroom that closing arguments are opinions of the attorneys and that the state was not trying to say the defense had lied.

The state finished its rebuttal by asking the jurors to dig through their notes and see that the crimes allegedly committed were not by accident or a mistake.

Following the completion of closing arguments, the judge read the jury more instructions and handed out 16 forms. Each of the eight charges receive two forms each, one for guilty and one for not guilty. One juror was chosen as the presiding juror and the judge will read the verdict.

Seventeen of the original 18 jurors selected for the case are still seated. One juror was dismissed early this week after revealing he tested positive for COVID-19 over the hiatus caused by Halderson’s own positive test. After closing arguments end, twelve of the remaining jurors will be selected to decide the defendant’s fate.

NBC15 conducted an interview with Chandler Halderson the day of his arrest, but before he was taken into custody and formally considered a suspect in his parents’ deaths. Chandler had only consented to an audio interview, which is why he doesn’t appear on camera.

NBC15 conducted a full interview with Chandler Halderson, 23, prior to authorities charging him with alleged homicide counts.

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