A new trial date has been set for a Grundy County, Tennessee, man charged in the 2016 slaying of his 26-year-old wife, whose body was found by off-roaders south of Gruetli-Laager.
Daniel Chandler, 29 when charged in 2017, will face a jury of his peers on charges of first-degree murder in a trial set to start Aug. 12 in Grundy County Circuit Court before Judge Thomas W. Graham, court officials said Tuesday.
The trial was originally set for Jan. 22 but was delayed in January on a motion filed by Assistant District Attorney Dave McGovern related to evidence that had not been returned by a third-party lab.
Parties in the case appeared Monday for a hearing before Graham.
"The state had filed a motion because of some tests that were not back yet," Public Defender Jeff Harmon said Tuesday of the case and January delay. "It's important to them and, of course, it could be important to us."
Assistant Public Defender Robert Morgan is representing Chandler at trial.
McGovern said the evidence that was still pending in January isn't in hand yet. "It's in the works," he said Tuesday.
"Everything is with a private company up in Virginia," he added. "We were told we'd have the complete results in June."
The investigation began when Samantha Chandler's body was found May 1, 2016, about 150 feet off of Ross Creek Road south of Gruetli-Laager, in an area frequented by off-roaders. People riding ATVs found the young mother's body near where Ross Creek Road becomes Burkett's Chapel Road, investigators said. The area consists of heavily wooded terrain crisscrossed with trails and fire roads where there are very few homes.
The probe quickly became a homicide investigation in 2016, but a year after the body was found the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Grundy authorities were still looking for help from the public.
The probe — involving Grundy officials, the TBI and authorities in Alabama — continued for 17 months before evidence finally led to Chandler's out-of-state arrest on Nov. 14, 2017, in Walker County, Alabama. He was returned to Tennessee to face first-degree murder charges the next day.
Chandler was on law enforcement's radar early on, and his home on Pickett Lake Road West was searched by TBI agents just a few weeks after his wife's body was found. Samantha Chandler lived at the home until August 2015. State real estate records show the residence there is a mobile home on a little less than 2 acres.
Samantha Chandler was living with her parents in Gruetli-Laager around the time she was killed, Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum said when the victim's estranged husband was arrested in 2017.
Shrum said in 2017 that a heated child custody battle might have fueled the killing, and he noted that at the time of the slaying Daniel Chandler had a girlfriend in Walker County, Alabama. He'd lived and worked there since his wife's body was found. Chandler's girlfriend was not implicated in the killing, authorities said.
The trial in August will take place at the Grundy County Courthouse in Altamont.
Chandler remains held at the Grundy County Jail on $250,000 bond.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.