Southeast Bakersfield

Principal's defense attorney: 'She's adamant about her innocence'

Principal's defense attorney: 'She's adamant about her innocence'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The Bakersfield elementary school principal accused of her husband's murder maintains she is innocent, and her lawyer said Wednesday that she's confident they can prove that.

Jenea Chance, 46, met with attorney Kyle Humphrey the morning after she was released from jail when the Kern County District Attorney's Office asked for more investigation. The wife had been arrested in connection with the death of her husband, Todd Chance.
 
"It was tough for her, and she's grateful to be out of jail," Humphrey said about his Wednesday morning meeting with Chance. "But, we had to talk about a lot of things that were uncomfortable, and difficult, and emotional."
 
Chance was arrested last Thursday night. Her husband's body had been found the morning of Aug. 25 in a field west of Bakersfield. The funeral for Todd Chance was Wednesday morning, and Humphrey said he gave the wife the painful advice not to go to the services.
 
"I didn't want to make her cry, but I did," the attorney related. Humphrey said he felt it was best for Chance not to be there.

"I think that some people might believe the accusations, and they would be upset," he said. "So, she lost the right to do that simply because she was arrested."
 
On Tuesday, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Andrea Kohler said Chance would not be arraigned because her office wanted "further investigation" by the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Kohler wouldn't say exactly what more they want.
 
Humphrey said he doesn't know either, but there are typically things prosecutors want to see.

"Nowadays, they're always looking for cellphone and GPS records if they're available," he said. "Those things take time to get."

He added that DNA evidence is also frequently sought, and that can take weeks or months to get.
 
Sheriff's spokesmen told Eyewitness News that investigators have evidence in this case and have talked to witnesses. Officers said they believe the husband and wife left their southwest Bakersfield home together in his car at about 7:30 on the morning of Aug. 25. The body of Todd Chance was later found by field workers. Then, about 15 miles from that location, Todd Chance's car was found abandoned in front of a vacant house.
 
A neighbor in that area told Eyewitness News she spotted a woman fumbling in the car, and then getting out and walking away.
 
"Perhaps a woman did this," Humphrey said in response to a question about that report. "My client's position is it wasn't her."

The defense lawyer said Chance has no idea who might have killed her husband.
 
He also won't talk about what the wife has to say regarding the case.

"We're not going to disclose anything like that, other than she's adamant about her innocence," Humphrey said. "She believes absolutely we'll be able to prove that she didn't do this."
 
The defense attorney said they are now waiting for the sheriff's office to get the materials requested by prosecutors, and for the District Attorney's office to decide whether to file charges.
 
"We've offered to surrender, if they want to make an arrest," Humphrey said. "Or, please let us know when she can get her life back."
 
Greenfield Union School District officials said on Tuesday that Chance would be placed on paid administrative leave "until things get sorted out." Eyewitness News learned that on Wednesday, letters went out to Fairview students, saying administrators could not comment on the case, but reassuring families that school would go on and the campus would be safe.
 
Also on Wednesday, signs and banners were up in front of Fairview Elementary supporting the principal. Some said, "We love you Mrs. Chance."
 
The attorney said Chance appreciates support from the community.

"She's getting a lot of support from people that know her," he said, adding this message: "We always ask in the defense, don't believe an accusation. Let us have our day in court, because it's very easy to accuse people."