In 2013, former Fairview Elementary principal Leslie Chance murdered her husband Todd Chance and left his body in an almond orchard. At least, that’s what jurors determined to have happened. A judge has now handed a sentence down to the 53-year-old former educator; 50 years in prison.
What Happened to Todd Chance?
According to Law & Order, “Prosecutors say [Leslie] 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.”
Was Leslie a Woman Spurned?
According to prosecutors, Leslie’s motives were both emotional and financial. Leslie filed four life insurance claims after Todd’s death. Todd was also getting flirty with an ex over Facebook. Local news channel ABC 23 reports, “Phone records showed Todd was sending flirtatious text messages to his ex-fiancee, Carrie Williams.
The messages showed that Todd reached out to Williams through her Facebook and asked if they could be ‘more than just Facebook friends.’
Williams said that they then began sending messages via cell phone. In one text message, Todd asked Williams for a “good pic.” Williams began sending nude pictures of herself. The prosecution said during closing arguments that these messages not only showed an affair between Todd and Williams but showed the two were making fun of Chance.
‘When you look at those text messages between Carrie Williams and Todd Chance,’ Prosecutor Andrea Kohler said. “They are taking shots at her expense.'”
The defense has argued that Leslie didn’t know about the affair until after Todd’s death, but jurors didn’t buy it.
What Does the Court Conviction Say?
The conviction filing reads in part, “Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer announced a significant conviction in a murder trial today. In a case prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Arthur Norris and Assistant District Attorney Andrea Kohler, a Kern County jury found defendant Leslie Chance guilty of first-degree murder and found true an enhancement that she personally used a firearm to cause the death of her husband, Todd Chance. An additional allegation asserting that the murder was conducted for financial gain was found by the jury to be not true.
At about 9:00 a.m. on August 25, 2013, the body of Todd Chance was found at an almond orchard near Enos Lane and Noriega Road. Todd Chance and an adult female were seen leaving the Chance residence in Todd’s vehicle between 7:30 and 8:00 am on the day of Todd’s death. Todd’s vehicle was found later that same day, abandoned, unlocked, with a revolver identified as the murder weapon on the floorboard.
The revolver belonged to Todd and Leslie Chance. Investigation by the Kern County Sheriff’s Department revealed video footage of a woman, believed to be Leslie Chance, leaving the area where the vehicle was abandoned. The woman was spotted on several different business surveillance cameras, and the video showed that she had changed clothes, discarded items, and further showed her use a pay phone to call for a taxi cab which ultimately picked her up and dropped her off at another business near the Chance residence.
Additional investigation by the FBI established that Leslie Chance was not on her computer, as she had initially claimed, during the time of Todd’s murder. Detectives further discovered Leslie Chance, who had a history of being opposed to the use of firearms, had handled and fired the murder weapon for the first time just weeks before the murder. The Chance family had also taken a vacation to ‘CSI: The Experience,’ in Las Vegas, where topics of criminal investigation were discussed, including the use of cellular phones to track perpetrators.”
Why 50 Years?
The sentence was handed down Wednesday; 50 years in prison. Leslie was convicted on one count of first-degree murder, but had an additional 25 years tacked on for the use of a firearm.
Bakersfield.com, a local news source, reports that Todd’s mother was at the sentencing hearing; “Diana Chance, Todd Chance’s mother, spoke during the sentencing hearing where she emotionally expressed her gratitude to the jury, prosecutors, detectives and victim advocates who have supported them. She also described the defendant as being ‘not human’ and ‘pure evil from head to toe. …There’s no such thing as real justice when a loved one is gone,’ Chance said. ‘The day the verdict was read (in January), nobody won. There was no victory that day.’
Diana Chance explained that her entire family had been victimized the way her son was murdered by his own wife. Diana Chance read a letter on behalf of her family that called for the maximum punishment so that her son’s killer would no longer have control over anyone and would have to be controlled by others.
‘May you feel the pain and agony that Todd felt,’ Diana Chance said to Leslie.
Leslie Chance will also owe Todd Chance’s family $11,420.13 in restitution, along with an indeterminate restitution to the probation department and other fees…”
Todd’s future came to a screeching halt when his wife decided to murder him and abandon his body in an orchard, but Leslie’s ended in the courtroom on Wednesday. At 53 years old, a 50 year prison sentence is basically a death sentence for the woman who is unlikely to survive her sentence. Leslie was also granted no possibility for parole.
Of the sentence, Zimmer said, “‘Leslie Chance carefully premeditated and successfully executed a plan to kill her husband of 17 years. However, Chance was not successful in avoiding the ramifications of the criminal justice system. This horrific crime took the life of a beloved father and son. Judge Brehmer said it best in passing sentence — ‘No one has won, but justice has been served.’”