Grundy County man's trial in 2016 slaying could be delayed in hearing

Grundy County man's trial in 2016 slaying could be delayed in hearing

January 9th, 2019 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News
Daniel Chandler

Daniel Chandler

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

This story was updated to reflect that the hearing on the Grundy County case was held in Marion County.

A Circuit Court hearing Thursday in Marion County, Tennessee, could delay a Grundy County murder case expected to go to trial this month for a man charged with killing his wife in 2016.

Daniel Chandler, 29 at the time of his arrest in November 2017, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 26-year-old Samantha Kathleen Chandler, a Grundy County mother whose body was found May 1, 2016, in a remote, wooded area of the county.

Dave McGovern, assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, said he planned to ask for a continuance "for evidentiary purposes."

"We're not sure if it's going to be put off," McGovern said. "There are some [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] issues on some testing."

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said Wednesday that the hangup is related to the timing of receiving some test results.

"It's an issue of evidentiary testing on some hair analysis that the TBI doesn't do," Taylor said. The testing was performed by a third party, so completing it is out of the state agency's hands.

Taylor said there was no guarantee Graham will grant the continuance so the trial could go forward as scheduled Jan. 22.

The investigation began when Samantha Chandler's body was found in May 2016 about 150 feet off of Ross Creek Road south of Gruetli-Laager, in an area frequented by off-roaders. People riding ATVs found her 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 continued for 17 months until evidence in the case finally led to Daniel Chandler's arrest in Nov. 14, 2017, in Walker County, Georgia. He was returned to Tennessee to face 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. The residence there is a mobile home on a little less than 2 acres, state real estate records show.

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.

Shrum said in 2017 that a heated child custody battle might have fueled the killing.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.