Trial opens for Wisconsin man accused of killing parents

A 23-year-old Wisconsin man charged with killing and dismembering his parents committed the crimes after his lies unraveled about having a job, going to school and having a better job waiting for him in Florida, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Chandler Halderson shot his father in the back on July 1 shortly after his father discovered his deceit and then killed his mother when she returned home a few hours later, Dane County Deputy District Attorney William Brown said in his opening statement at Halderson’s trial.

Halderson’s attorney Catherine Dorl countered that her client is “just a normal kid” who liked to play video games and did not kill his parents, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“They simply don’t know what happened,” Dorl said of the prosecutors.

Halderson is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating and hiding a corpse, and giving false information to authorities in the deaths of Bart Halderson, 50, and Krista Halderson, 53.

Chandler Halderson reported his parents missing on July 7, telling investigators that they never returned home to Dane County from a Fourth of July weekend trip to their cabin in northern Wisconsin.

Bart Halderson’s remains were found in rural Dane County on July 8, the day Chandler Halderson was arrested. Authorities said he was shot once before his body was dismembered. Six days later, investigators found Krista Halderson’s remains along the Wisconsin River in Sauk County, according to the complaint.

Brown said Halderson presented himself to the world as a soon-to-be graduate of a renewable resources engineering program at Madison Area Technical College, with a job at American Family Insurance and a better one waiting for him at Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Halderson fabricated dozens if not hundreds of emails between himself and MATC and American Family to back his story, but Bart Halderson was starting to ask questions about why he never seemed to have any money, Brown said.

The prosecutor said Bart Halderson was shot after a conversation with an MATC official uncovered his son’s lies.

Dorl urged jurors to presume her client innocent, to put aside their emotions when viewing disturbing evidence and to rely on logic. It is not a juror’s job to be a “story collaborator,” she said.

“Look for what’s missing,” she said. “Look for alternate explanations.”

Eighteen jurors were selected to hear the case, but only 12 will be tasked with reaching a verdict after six alternates are chosen at random and dismissed once closing arguments are over. The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.