A former principal serving life in prison for the 2013 murder of her husband has revealed that she thought she ‘heard the verdict wrong’ when jurors found her guilty of the killing in January, insisting she was ‘very confident’ she’d walk free.
Leslie Jenea Chance makes the admission in a new episode of NBC Dateline, titled Point Blank, which is due to air at 9pm on Friday, November 20.
Led by reporter Andrea Canning, the episode revisits the murder of 45-year-old Todd Chance, who was found dead with two bullet wounds to the chest in a rural almond orchard in Bakersfield, California, on August 25, 2013.
Chance, 54, who was once the principal of Fairview Elementary, was convicted of first-degree murder in the case in January this year and later sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
During the trial, prosecutors said she decided to kill Todd after unearthing a steamy texting tryst between him and his ex-girlfriend.
Chance allegedly planned the murder out over a series of weeks beforehand, using information she had learned from a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) convention she’d recently attended in Las Vegas to help cover her tracks.
While the evidence mounted against her was substantial, Chance revealed to Dateline that she didn’t believe for a moment that jurors would find her guilty.
‘I was very confident,’ Chance tells Canning in a clip obtained by DailyMail.com, which was filmed at the Kern County Correctional Facility back in February.
‘I expected to go back the next day and it be done. Actually when I would lay in bed at night, I thought, ‘My goodness, they’re not only gonna stand up and say, ‘She’s not guilty,’ they’re gonna say, ‘She’s innocent and this was a ridiculous, you know, case,’ Chance said.
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Leslie Jenea Chance (above) makes the admission in a new episode of NBC Dateline, titled Point Blank, which is due to air at 9pm on Friday, November 20
Chance (right) was convicted of the first-degree murder of her husband Todd Chance (left) in January, before being sentenced to 50 years to life in September
Having spent three years in jail awaiting her trial, Chance said she was so certain she was on the verge of securing her freedom that she’d even told her daughters to make sure they had her favourite snacks it at home.
One of her daughters, Sarah Chance, also features in the special episode, and shows Canning the tub of ice cream she had bought especially to celebrate what they believed would be her mother’s inevitable release. The tub remains unopened and is ‘still waiting’ for Chance, according to Sarah.
Back in the courtroom, the jury deliberated over Chance’s verdict for an excruciating eight days.
Lead Kern County Sheriff’s detective on the case, Kevin Brewer, told Dateline that with each passing day, he grew more and more nervous and uncertain of what verdict the jury would return.
‘When it gets past three days, I begin to worry,’ Brewer said. ‘When it gets past four or five, I’m really worried.’
Brewer came under scrutiny during the trial after it was revealed he failed to enter several witness interviews into evidence that were favorable to Chance. He was also accused by the defense of attempting to influence witness statements.
Chance has revealed to Dateline that she didn’t for a moment believe jurors would find her guilty and was already making plans in her head for when she’d walk free
Leslie Chance’s daughter, Sarah Chance, said she too was confident her mother would be found innocent. So much so that she got in mother’s her favorite ice cream in especially, to eat when she returned home
Dateline spoke to Chance back in February at the Kern County Correctional Facility (above), shortly after she was found guilty of first-degree murder
Todd’s parents, Diana and Travis Chance, said they were also waiting nervously, having been present in court throughout the entirety of the four-and-a-half week trial.
‘I [was] am squeezing the hand of the DA’s victim’s advocate,’ Diana told Dateline. ‘I looked at each one of the jury members and I thought, ‘Is it going to be guilty or a hung jury or what?’
The jury finally returned a unanimous guilty verdict. An audible sigh of relief was reportedly heard coming from where Todd’s family members were sat in the courtroom as the decision was read out, according to Bakersfield.com.
Chance, meanwhile, was reportedly completely unmoved by the verdict. She reportedly sat motionless, starting vacantly into the space in front of her.
‘When the verdict came in, I thought I heard it wrong,’ Chance clarified to Dateline. ‘I seriously thought I heard it wrong.’
Todd’s mother, Diana Chance (shown left speaking to Dateline, and right at the trial), spoke to Dateline about her family’s excruciating eight day wait for the jury to return its verdict
Lead Kern County Sheriff’s detective on the case, Kevin Brewer (above), said that with each passing day, he grew more and more nervous and uncertain of what verdict the jury would return
Chance (shown left at trial) said she thought she ‘heard the verdict wrong’ when she was convicted of Todd’s murder in January (Todd Chance shown right)
Todd Chance’s body was found in on August 25, 2013. He’d last been seen alive hours earlier, leaving his home with another woman at 9:30am, before they both got into his black 2011 Ford Mustang.
Later that day, police found Todd’s car abandoned at an intersection, with a revolver on the floorboard.
The gun was later found to belong to Todd and Chance and was also confirmed to be the murder weapon.
Police said at the time that they had gathered evidence that proved it was Chance who had driven Todd’s car to the intersection and abandoned it.
The evidence was later revealed to be a grainy surveillance video that showed a woman walking down the street and into a Walmart store on a circuitous route prosecutors said Chance took to get home on the morning she murdered her husband.
Along the route, prosecutors said she disguised herself in a hat and sunglasses, changed her clothes, threw away a number of items, and used a payphone to hail a cab.
Prosecutors said her motives for the killing were money and infidelity.
Two years after Todd was found dead, Chance claimed on four separate life insurance policies, which were worth $500,000.
Prosecutors also said that Chance had found flirty messages that Todd was exchanging via text and on Facebook with his ex-fiancee, Carrie Williams.
The exchange escalated into Todd asking for a ‘good pic’. He obtained a series of nude images from Williams and the pair also routinely made fun of Chance in their interactions, officials said.
As part of their forthcoming episode, Dateline includes a never-before-aired clip of an interview they conducted with Chance in 2013, shortly after she was temporarily detained by police (shown above)
Surveillance footage captured from inside a police interrogation room (left) shows Chance discussing with Todd’s father (show in 2020, right) when she was ‘going to get Todd’s phone back’. She was later arrested by police
Police said surveillance footage captured a woman, the identified to be Chance, walking down the street and into a Walmart store on a circuitous route they said she took after killing Todd
Chance was first arrested in 2013, days after Todd’s body was found. However, she was released from custody a few days later when prosecutors requested further inquiry from investigators at the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.
As part of their forthcoming episode, Dateline includes a never-before-aired clip of an interview they conducted with Chance, shortly after she was released in 2013.
In a clip obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com, Chance is chillingly heard telling Canning how much she ‘misses’ Todd, insisting he’s ‘everywhere in this house’.
When asked what she misses about her husband the most, Chance responds: ‘Just having him to talk to. That was, like, when we went to bed at night, that was our downtime. No kids around and just talk about, you know, what was going on for the next day and our plans. That’s what I miss.’
Chance also spoke to Dateline in 2013 about the moment she realized she was being treated as a suspect in the case.
She said she had gone down to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office with her father-in-law to pick up Todd’s car, or so she thought.
A family selfie obtained by Dateline shows Todd (left) and Chance (right) posing with two of their daughters shortly before the murder took place
Surveillance footage captured from inside a police interrogation room shows Chance discussing with Todd’s father when she was ‘going to get [Todd’s] phone back.
‘Because I feel like if I had his phone, then I could look at all his text messages and things,’ Chance tells Travis Chance.
Investigators then apparently showed both Chance and Travis the surveillance footage of the woman abandoning Todd’s car. Both of them told police they didn’t recognize the woman depicted.
‘I really thought, ‘They’re still tryin’ to help me out. They’re tryin’ to solve this for me,’ Chance told Dateline in 2013. ‘And then I realized, ‘Oh, my goodness. They think it’s me.’
Chance was later re-arrested in December 2016 and formally charged with Todd’s murder, before being found guilty in January.
She filed a motion for a re-trial in September this year on grounds of juror misconduct, but the request was denied because of insufficient evidence.
Chance was later sentenced to 50 years to life on September 16.
NBC Dateline’s Point Black with air on Friday, November 20, at 9pm ET/8pm CT.