Chance

Leslie Chance 

After months of delays, the murder trial of former elementary school principal Leslie Chance is about to get underway.

Chance, 52, is accused of shooting her husband to death in August 2013, and leaving his body near a commercial orchard several miles northwest of Bakersfield.

According to a source at Kern County Superior Court, Judge Charles R. Brehmer laid out a tentative schedule Tuesday for the trial, which is expected to last well into August.

Beginning Thursday, the court will hear motions in limine, a Latin term referring to motions made before a trial begins. These motions seek to avoid having the jury tainted by irrelevant, inadmissible, or prejudicial evidence.

These limine motions may last three or four weeks.

"You don't want to pick a jury until the limine motions are complete — until you know the shape of the evidence," said longtime Bakersfield attorney Kyle Humphrey, who is not involved in the Chance case.

Judge Brehmer, Humphrey said, is efficient at moving through such proceedings.

Jury selection is set to begin in late June. The goal is to have a jury chosen before the Fourth of July holiday. Opening statements are tentatively scheduled to begin July 16.

Chance has been charged with murdering her husband, 45-year-old Todd Chance, on Aug. 25, 2013. If convicted, she could face life in prison.

Prosecutors say the couple drove that morning to the area of Noriega Road near Enos Lane, where Chance is alleged to have shot and killed her husband. Prosecutors say she abandoned the car in a nearby neighborhood and returned home by taxi and on foot.

Chance was first arrested days after her husband's body was found, but was released days later when prosecutors requested further inquiry from investigators with the Kern County Sheriff's Office. She was arrested again in December 2016.

Chance, who was principal at Fairview Elementary School during the time of the shooting, was expected to receive around $250,000 from her husband's life insurance policies, according to court documents.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

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