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Defense attempts to clarify witness testimony in Leslie Chance trial

Another set of witnesses share what the saw when a black Ford Mustang appeared in their neighborhood. Plus, the lead detective for this case takes the stand again.
Posted at 2:08 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 13:48:07-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Confusion in the courtroom Wednesday morning after testimony continued for Martha Medina, who testified she witnessed a woman drive and abandon Todd Chance's suspected Ford Mustang in her neighborhood six years ago.

Medina began her testimony Tuesday afternoon, saying she and her husband were drinking coffee in their front yard on the morning of Aug. 25, 2013, when she witnessed a woman drive up and park the Mustang on Wheatland Avenue and Tigerflower Drive. Medina said she saw the woman exit the car and walk towards Dennen Street.

"I thought something was suspicious, but I didn't know," testified Medina.

The prosecution alleged that the woman Medina saw exiting the Mustang was Leslie Chance. During opening statements Monday, the prosecution said that after Medina saw the woman walk towards Dennen , that woman was then caught on home surveillance video heading down Dennen to Panama Lane.

The defense attempted to clarify how Medina contacted law enforcement, but her answer to many of the defense's questions was "I don't remember."

"Do you remember telling deputies you saw [Leslie's] face on TV the day before?" Lidgett asked Medina. She didn't.

Lidgett played back a recording of a conversation deputies had with Martha. He also handed out English-translated transcripts for the court to follow along with.

Medina testified that parts of the translated transcript were "not written correctly." She testified that she did not remember telling deputies about "a man killing a woman and parking a car" in the same spot the Mustang was found, as written in the transcript.

Medina and the defense went back and forth for much of the cross-examination. Medina even saying at one point "If I had known the mess I was going to get in, I would've kept quiet."

The defense also attempted to argue that Medina's visual of the person exiting the Mustang was inaccurate, saying she told deputies she was "blind" without her glasses and that there was a tree blocking her view.

Prosecutor Norris asked Medina about her glasses and she said they were more like reading glasses.

"I never wear them during the day," Medina said.

Surveillance video from a Starbucks on Panama shows the same person captured in the home surveillance video entering with a red backpack, wearing a hat and dark sunglasses, and carrying a white plastic.

The prosecution also entered into evidence surveillance video from the Lowe's and Walmart where they suspect Chance went after changing clothes at the Starbucks. All three businesses are a part of the same shopping area.

Surveillance video showed the same person who left the Starbucks, walking up towards the Lowe's entrance and heading north towards the Walmart. Walmart surveillance showed that person entering a hallway at the Walmart and using a payphone inside.

About 20 minutes into the video, a cab from American Yellow Cab drove up to the Walmart and the person, alleged to be Chance, got in.

Senior Deputy Kavin Brewer was recalled to the stand. He testified that his team searched the area inside that Walmart. He said they checked the trash can inside the hallway, but came up empty.

"We were hoping there'd be evidence discarded," Brewer said.

Another witness called to the stand was Medina's husband, Antonio Medina. He testified he was with his wife when the Mustang pulled up.

The defense attempted to establish that Mrs. Medina called 911, as stated in police reports, to alert them of the Mustang. But Mr. Medina said he was sure neither of them called 911.

"I've never called 911 in my life," said Mr. Medina,

That was when Medina dropped a potential blow for the defense.

Medina testified that he looked up the number for the Kern County Sheriff's Office from the phone book and gave that number to his wife to call.

During opening statements, the defense argued that there were no 911 recordings available for this crime, including the call reporting the Mustang had been located.

Juanita Pinheiro was also called to the stand. She testified that she saw a woman abandon the Mustang and walk away.

Under cross-examination, Lidgett attempted to discredit the witness's memory. He pointed out that Pinheira had difficulty remembering details from court hearings from June.

"A person that you saw for about 5, 10 seconds six years ago, and you can remember that person?" asked Lidgett.

Pinheiro held that she remembered the woman because she had "a very distinctive walk."

The trial is set to resume tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. with further cross-examination of Deputy Brewer by the defense.