GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Opening statements for the trial of James Chance, who is accused of helping his son cover up a murder in 2018, will begin Tuesday.
A jury was selected Monday in the trial. Opening statements and testimony are scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
James Chance is charged with perjury and being an accessory after the fact in the death of Ashley Young.
On Monday morning, Chance’s wife Barbara Chance pleaded no contest to those same charges.
Their son, Jared Chance, was convicted in September of murdering and dismembering Young, 31, of Oshtemo Township. Young was last seen alive in late November 2018 with Chance in Grand Rapids’ Eastown neighborhood. Parts of her body were discovered a few days later in the house where Chance was living and he was arrested. Young’s head, hands and feet have not been recovered.
Authorities say James and Barbara Chance helped move Young’s remains and did not turn over the tools used in the dismemberment to police. The reciprocating saw used in the crime was found in their Holland home after investigators executed a search warrant.
One potential juror for James Chance’s trial was excused when she said she could not bear to see the gruesome photos of Young’s partial remains that will be introduced as evidence in the trial. The jurors who convicted Jared Chance also saw those photos.
Later Monday, the defense argued that showing photos of Young prove nothing in this trial.
“It’s merely being introduced to inflame the passions of the jury, so there can be some kind of sympathy in look at this young girl (and) this horrible thing that’s happened to her,” Kent County Public Defender Laura Joyce said.
Kent County Judge Paul Denenfeld sided with the defense, saying that showing the jury the photos would be prejudicial.
Barbara Chance’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19. Denenfeld said that he plans to sentence her to no more than a year in jail.
The judge could opt for a longer sentence if he decides there are other factors to consider. Among those: whether Barbara Chance cooperates in the prosecution of her husband.
Young’s mother Kristine Young was livid about Barbara Chance’s plea and expected sentence, telling News 8 outside the courtroom that it is “a true joke.”
“We’re talking about my daughter and the fact that these parents helped him. They knew. He’s a retired officer, so he knew. They both knew,” she said, referring to James Chance’s 25 years as a police officer in Illinois. “They know right from wrong. The reason we’re here is because of their son, because they didn’t parent. If they would have parented their child, we wouldn’t be here.”
If convicted, James Chance could receive the same sentence as his son.