As far as Kern County prosecutors are concerned, Wednesday marks the end of the Leslie Chance murder case. The defendant, the former principal of Fairview Elementary School in Bakersfield, California, was sentenced to a total of 50 years to life in the killing of her husband Todd Chance. Specifically, she received 25 years to life for the actual homicide, and 25 years to life on top of that for a gun enhancement.
Jurors found Chance guilty on Jan. 30 of first-degree murder, with an enhancement for using a firearm in the crime. They determined that she did not do it for money, however.
Prosecutors say she engaged in a plot not only to kill her husband, but to get away with the crime. Their family had vacationed as “CSI: The Experience” in Las Vegas in the weeks before. The murder weapon was a revolver belonging to the couple, but Leslie Chance had a history of opposing guns. Nonetheless, she used and fired the gun for the first time mere weeks before the murder of her husband, prosecutors said.
The crime occurred in 2013. Todd Chance’s body was found in an orchid field on August 25. He and an adult woman were seen leaving his home in his vehicle between 7:30 and 8 p.m. that day. That same vehicle was discovered the same day abandoned. The murder weapon was on the floorboard, authorities said.
Surveillance footage showed a woman leaving the area of the abandoned vehicle, and indicated that she changed clothes, threw away items, and used a payphone for a cab to take her to a business near the Chance home. Prosecutors said that was the defendant. Officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation undermined her alibi, saying she was not at her computer.
Chance’s “meticulous premeditation in the killing of her husband did not prevent our law enforcement community from exposing the truth of Todd Chance’s murder,” Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said at the time.
Prosecutors said the motives were money and infidelity. Leslie Chance filed on life insurance policies after the victim’s death, authorities said. Prosecutors also said that Todd Chance had also begun exchanging flirty messages via text and Facebook with ex-fiancée Carrie Williams. This escalated to him asking for a “good pic,” getting nude photos of her, as well as the two making fun of Leslie Chance.
The defense tried to show that the woman on tape was not Chance. Her three daughters–one from a previous relationship, and her two daughters with Todd Chance–testified it was not her on video, according to Bakersfield.com. A co-worker from the Greenfield Union School District told jurors the defendant always wore glasses, which the woman on tape did not have on. Leslie Chance took the stand in her defense, saying that she did not wear contacts back then. Nonetheless, prosecutors said she in fact ordered two boxes of contacts a month before she killed Todd Chance.
The defendant was on unpaid leave from Fairview amid the case, and was finally terminated after her conviction. This was her second trial. The first ended in a mistrial after her defense left, citing a conflict of interest.
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