Halderson trial delayed until at least Jan. 18, no mistrial request

MADISON, Wis. — The homicide trial for Chandler Halderson will be put on hold until at least next week after Halderson tested positive for COVID-19, the judge in the case ruled Wednesday morning.

Judge John Hyland informed the jury of a positive test among someone integral to the case, but did not reveal it was Halderson himself after his defense team expressed concern that the diagnosis could possibly cause jurors to hold it against him in some way.

All attorneys for the defense and the prosecution left the courtroom and appeared via Zoom as the jury was informed, while Halderson listened in on the phone.

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“I do not believe that you in any way would have been subject to exposure, but I do have to suspend our proceedings for a period of time because we cannot do any of our work through remote access, through Zoom or any other means,” Judge Hyland told the jury.

Attorneys on both sides agreed that the trial could not proceed via Zoom. Defense attorneys also said it was Chandler Halderson’s wish not to ask for a mistrial due to the pause in the case.

Due to CDC guidelines on quarantining and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday on Monday, Judge Hyland said the earliest the trial could resume is Tuesday, January 18. Jurors will be contacted on Friday with an updated timeline on when they will be asked to return. Jurors were also provided rapid at-home tests by the county if they wanted additional assurance they were not exposed.

MORE: Full coverage of the Chandler Halderson homicide investigation and trial — live stream, previous stories, timelines and interviews

Halderson’s test results came back positive after proceedings ended in day six of the trial on Tuesday evening. Just minutes before the result was discovered, prosecutors had told the judge they expected to wrap up their case by Friday.

The Dane County Jail is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, officials announced separately on Monday, with higher numbers than they have seen at any point in the pandemic.

Jurors will be under a court order to continue not discussing or seeking out information on the case during the pause. Judge Hyland said as long as jurors follow the order, he is confident the trial can resume fairly.