BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A jury of 12 Kern County residents has found former Fairview Elementary School principal Leslie Chance guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in the death of her husband, Todd Chance.
The jury found it true she discharged a firearm in killing her husband, and found it not true that the murder was carried out for financial gain
Chance's eldest daughter broke down into tears as the verdict was read.
Todd, 45, was found shot to death in an almond orchard in 2013, off of Enos Lane and Noriega Road in Northwest Bakersfield. Four days after Todd's body was discovered, on Aug. 29, 2013, Chance was arrested and booked on suspicion of murder. She was released from jail a day before she was scheduled to appear in court. The District Attorney's office told 23ABC the case was sent back to KCSO for further review.
Nearly three years later, Leslie was arrested for the second time and charged with first degree murder of her husband with special circumstances of financial gain.
In October of 2019, the DA's office announced they would move forward with the trial once again.
- WATCH: Prosecutor Arthur Norris responds to Leslie Chance verdict
Kern County District Attorney responded to the verdict Thursday, saying:
“Leslie 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. Today’s verdict is a reminder that we will continue to hold anyone who takes the life of another accountable for their crimes.”
The Greenfield Union School District said Chance, as mandated by law, was placed on unpaid leave since 2016.
In response to the verdict, the district released the following statement:
Today the jury entered a unanimous verdict of guilty after a jury trial that took place over the past several weeks. Sentencing in the case will take place at a later date. The District plans to initiate the dismissal process to terminate Ms. Chance from her employment as a result of being found guilty in this case.
The District respects the jury trial process and will not make further comment regarding this personnel matter.
During the trial, several new details came out regarding Leslie and Todd's finances, an alleged affair and mistakes made during the investigation.
- WATCH: Defense Attorney Tony Lidgett responds to Leslie Chance verdict
The prosecution argued that Chance had emotional and financial motives for killing Todd. 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 argued that this was not true and that in-fact Chance didn't know anything about the affair before the case started.
The prosecution also argued Chance murdered Todd for financial gain. Court documents revealed Leslie filed claims on 4 separate life insurance policies two years after Todd's death, worth $500,000.
The defense argued that Chance did not need to kill Todd for a financial reason because she made more money than him. The prosecution said that was even more reason for her to kill Todd.
"She was the primary breadwinner, and she worked very hard to provide for her family. Despite that, Todd was unfaithful," Prosecutor Art Norris said.
Chance is facing a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison. She will be sentenced on March 2.