Todd Chance was shot and killed by his wife, Leslie “Janea” Chance on August 24, 2013, but it wasn’t until January 30, 2020, that a California jury found Leslie, an elementary school principal, guilty of the murder and sentenced the 52-year-old to 50 years to life in prison.
At the center of the trial was the motive. What would motivate a mother of three and supposed pillar of the community to drive her husband to an almond orchard near Bakersfield, Calfornia, shoot him, then abandon the body, drive Todd’s car to a location 15 miles from the orchard, and sneak away, according to Bakersfield Now, all with the plan to get away with it — to go back to being a mom and working in the school system?
While at first prosecutors said the motive was money — specifically multiple life insurance policies with a combined payout of $500,000, according to ABC 23, another proposed motive was that Todd had rekindled a relationship with a former fiance and Leslie was scorned.
With Leslie denying she killed her husband, but a jury not believing her, the real motive may never be confirmed. After all, it was a difficult case to make. It took three years from the time Todd was killed for Leslie to be charged with his murder.
Facebook Messages & Texts Showed Todd was Inappropriately Involved With His Ex, Carrie Williams, & She’d Sent Him Nude Photos
Todd Chance's ex-fiancee took the stand today during the Leslie Chance retrial. Carrie Williams testified about her relationship with Todd, nude pictures she sent him months before his death and where she was when he was killed. #CHANCERETRIALhttps://t.co/eXGXU17brZ
— Emma Lockhart (@EmmaPLockhart) December 21, 2019
Beyond possibly being motivated to kill for the want of money, it also came out in the trial that Todd had initiated contact with his former fiance who he dated from 1990 to 1995, according to Bakersfield Now.
It all started with a Facebook connection. Williams testified that in 2012 Todd reached out to her on the social media platform and asked if they could be “more than just Facebook friends,” ABC23 reported.
Williams and Todd exchanged phone numbers and moved from a Facebook connection to texting.
Williams maintained she never saw Todd in person or even spoke to him on the phone during the months they were rekindling a relationship of sorts, they only texted or messaged on Facebook, she said.
However, over the years since their split, they had run into each other occasionally at mutual friends’ parties. But what the prosecution claimed was that the naked photos Williams sent Todd in April of 2013 set the wheels in motion for Leslie to start plotting her husband’s demise.
According to KGET, “Todd started it with a flirtatious text, telling Williams to put her bikini on to help him wash his car, to which Williams responded, ‘Yeah, right. I don’t need a crazy wife after me.’”
A few hours later, Todd asked Williams to send him a ‘good pic.’
Williams sent Todd photos of her “breasts, buttocks and vagina,” KGET reported.
In court, Williams said she thought sending the photos was harmless since Todd had seen her naked and been with her naked many times over their five-year relationship.
According to the Bakersfield Californian, Williams said, “When I say harmless it’s because … it was something when we were together he had seen before.”
But Carrie said in court she no longer thought the photos were harmless, testifying, “Because where we are right now. We’re here in a murder trial,” she said. “I’m ashamed of the photos…If any of that is the reason he’s gone, I regret that.”
Williams Said She Did Not Intend to Rekindle a Romance With Todd
According to KGET, “Williams said she had no intentions of pursuing a relationship with Todd but was devastated when she found out about his death.”
Even though Todd and Williams were engaging in flirty texts, it had been five months since she sent him the nude photos before Todd was murdered. According to Williams’ testimony, the interactions never went beyond flirtations during that time.
The defense argued Leslie didn’t even know about the Facebook connection, the texting, or the photos until after Todd was dead, according to 23ABC, and they said, “Chance did not need to kill Todd for a financial reason because she made more money than him.
But the prosecution argued Leslie being the one who made more money in the relationship was even more of a motive to kill Todd because she may have harbored resentment.
Prosecutor Art Norris said in court, “She was the primary breadwinner, and she worked very hard to provide for her family. Despite that, Todd was unfaithful,” 23ABC reported.
Leslie is currently serving her sentence at the Central California Women’s Facility. She is eligible for parole in November of 2041, according to The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.