Chandler Halderson sentenced to life without possibility of parole
Chandler Halderson was found guilty on all counts relating to the homicides of his parents in January.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The 24-year-old Dane County man convicted of killing his parents last summer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday, a judge ruled.
Chandler Halderson will receive the maximum penalties for the other charges, which will be served concurrently. Halderson received three years for the two counts of false information in a kidnapping, 7 years and 6 months for the two counts of mutilating a corpse, and 7 years and 6 months for two counts of hiding a corpse.
Halderson has 20 days to file for an appeal, which the defendant said he would be in his first time speaking during the duration of the trial process.
“It’s not that I do not have feelings, it’s that that I was warned not to show them due to the scrutiny of this case,” Chandler Halderson said, prior to the judge reading his decision.
Prosecutor Andrea Raymond started by describing the nature of the defendant, saying he had two parents who supported him. Bart Halderson served as a Boy Scout den leader and attended his son’s swim meets. Raymond argued that the only real tragedy Chandler Halderson ever experienced was the loss of his maternal grandparents as a child and the only “potential criticism” they could give him was that his mother may have doted on him too much.
The prosecutor also stated that during all jail calls and messages with detectives that prosecutors listened to, there was never a moment where Chandler Halderson had mourned his parents’ death. She described that as “unique.”
The first victim impact statement was from the fiancée of Chandler Halderson’s brother, Mitchell Halderson. She said that she had lost her future mother and father-in-law and that she would miss them every day. She also stated that both her and her fiancé would be uncomfortable if the court allowed Chandler Halderson the opportunity to have parole.
Chandler Halderson’s grandmother penned the next victim impact statement read by prosecutors.
“I love him even though what he did was horrific,” the statement from Chandler Halderson’s grandmother said, followed by that she hoped he would find a trade or craft while he was in prison. She also said that his parents would not want him to be incarcerated for life.
Krista Halderson’s best friend of 38 years, Jane Hilgendorf, was the next person who had a victim impact statement. Hilgendorf had testified during the trial, as well. She described Krista as having a lightness about her and that when she walked in the room, she made people feel happier.
“Being a mom was her purpose in life,” said Hilgendorf.
Deputy District Attorney William Brown asked the judge to sentence Chandler Halderson without the possibility of parole. He stated that the court needs to consider potential rehabilitation needs for the defendant and the safety of the public.
“Mr. Halderson by all accounts chose to commit the crime of first-degree intentional homicide twice on a single day because he was caught lying about where he was working and going to school,” Brown said. “Or perhaps just where he was just going to school.”
Defense attorney Crystal Vera followed Brown, saying that there were no statements sent from the defense. She said the defense was asking the judge for the possibility of parole for Chandler Halderson, emphasizing that it is not a guarantee.
“So, it’s not a process that is a guarantee,” Vera said. “It is simply a process that we are asking that you allow for the possibility of that process happening. I cannot stress that enough, I cannot stress enough how all we are asking for today is the possibility of this man to show you that he is redeemable.”
She also argued that Chandler, who is 24 years old, has a lot of “growing up” and “adulting” that he is going to miss out on and have to go through in an institution.
When Chandler Halderson spoke for the first time, he said that if any lawyers were listening, he plans to appeal his convictions.
Following the defendant’s statement, Judge Hyland said that if there were any positives, it was to the demonstration of pride we should feel in area law enforcement for how they investigated and presented evidence. Dane Co. Sheriff Kalvin Barrett sat in on the sentencing.
While he did not know the Haldersons, the judge said that he knows people like them and he can understand the empty space their losses leave for all who knew the couple.
“This court honors your loss,” Hyland said.
He explained that on top of the offenses themselves, Chandler Halderson’s actions to hide the crime makes them even worse. Ultimately, for the safety of the public, Hyland ruled that he could not give Halderson the chance to receive extended supervision.
“I don’t like telling his grandmother that I’m not able to give her the relief that she’s asking for out of her love for her grandson. I cannot do that,” Hyland said. “I have to for this sentencing ensure that the only time Mr. Halderson comes back to the community is to have the privilege of a burial that he denied his parents.”
Chandler Halderson had to be there when a Dane Co. court handed down his sentence for killing both Bart and Krista Halderson, a judge ruled. The 24-year-old Halderson had requested to skip his sentencing. State law requires he receive life sentences for the two convictions of 1st degree intentional homicide for the deaths of Bart and Krista Halderson. He will also be sentenced for six other charges, including two each of mutilating a corpse, hiding a corpse, and providing false information on kidnapped or missing persons.
According to court records Wednesday, three victim impact statements were been filed. These people will have the chance to tell the courtroom how the defendant’s crimes impacted their life.
Bart’s father, Blake Halderson, sent a letter to NBC15, opening up about how his son and daughter-in-law lived their lives and how hard it’s been living without them.
Halderson’s lawyers filed a motion Friday, March 11, asking a Dane County judge to allow Chandler Halderson to not be present at his sentencing hearing. Defense attorney Catherine Dorl cited state statute 971.04, which lists eight proceedings where a defendant “shall” be present in the request to not let Halderson appear, but noted if a defendant refuses to come to court, sentencing may proceed.
“On its face, it does indicate that the defendant shall be present at sentencing,” Dorl said. “However, if a defendant is in custody and refuses to be brought to Court, sentencing may proceed and be completed if the defendant waives his right to be present.” Halderson has waived his right to be present, and “not only consents but requests to be absent.”
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.
In a letter from Deputy District Attorney William Brown to Judge John Hyland, who presided on the trial of Chandler Halderson in January, Brown argued that Halderson cannot skip his sentencing hearing and described the request as “absurd.”
“[Halderson] is no longer shrouded by the proverbial cloak of innocence,” Brown stated. “He is a convicted murder(er), body mutilator, and liar. His request to skip his sentencing hearing is absurd and is an affront to the public’s interest and expectation of its court system.”
Brown continued in his argument, summarizing the case “State v. Koopmans,” in which the Wisconsin high court decided that a defendant in a felony case must be present at sentencing.
He also asserted that it is a part of society that members of the community and media watch the sentencing to understand the criminal justice system.
“The sentencing of criminals in public and in full view of the critical eye of the public and press is a vital check on our criminal justice system and it must not be meddled with,” Brown said. “The defendant should be brought to the courtroom for sentencing on Thursday afternoon in the full view of the community and victims that he has so badly hurt.”
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.
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