A woman who shot and killed her live-in girlfriend will serve at least 16 years in prison following a guilty plea Monday in Sampson County Superior Court, during which the details of the grisly case — the victim was dismembered and her remains burned — were recounted leading up to the sentencing.
Felicia Marie “Flip” Barnes, 39, wearing a pink jumpsuit and orange flip-flops, was led into court Monday afternoon for her plea and subsequent sentencing. With her attorney Coy Brewer by her side, Barnes pleaded guilty to second degree murder following a series of questions from presiding Judge John Nobles.
Nobles ultimately sentenced Barnes to no less than 192 months (16 years) and no more than 243 months (20 year, three months) in prison for the murder of Danielle Alicia Chance, 24. Chance was killed in February 2014, but details of her death did not come to light until nearly two years later.
On Jan. 13, 2016, Betty West, 24, of Angier, went to the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office to give information on the homicide. West told investigators that Chance was shot as the result of an altercation with Barnes, who then obtained assistance from West in covering up the crime.
That information was relayed to Sampson investigators, who, along with N.C. State Bureau of Investigation agents, discovered Chance’s partial remains at the Timothy Road home she shared with Barnes. It was discovered that Barnes had moved with her family, including two children, to Jefferson City, Tenn., in March 2014, just a month after Chance was killed.
A week after West came forward with the information, Sampson County Sheriff’s investigators traveled to Tennessee and interviewed Barnes with the assistance of the Jefferson City (TN) Police Department.
Barnes told authorities that she and Chance lived at the Timothy Road residence and had argued and fought in the past. She initially said she did not know where Chance was, but thought she was driving trucks.
“When she was pressed about Danielle’s whereabouts, she admitted to killing her,” Assistant District Attorney Robert Thigpen said in court, detailing the state’s facts of the case, prosecuted by Thigpen and Assistant District Attorney Frank McQuade.
Barnes said that, on Feb. 16, 2014, the two were arguing about another woman Chance was reportedly seeing. “She said the argument escalated to a fight and she grabbed a black .22 rifle Danielle owned,” Thigpen stated.
The two wrestled over the weapon, with Barnes getting control of it, shooting Chance once in the upper back, prosecutors said.
West received a call from Barnes’ daughter that afternoon that Barnes and Chance had been fighting. West was on her way to work, but told Barnes’ daughter to call back if things got worse. She received a second call from the girl just 10 minutes later, saying she had heard a gunshot.
At that point, Barnes took the phone from her daughter and told West that she had shot Chance. She said she would call the police once West got to the residence.
West said she “freaked out and broke down” when she saw Chance’s lifeless body at the residence and told Barnes to contact police. West said she was given something “to calm down” before Barnes and West took the children away from the home and later returned to the Timothy Road residence, where a plan was devised to get rid of the body, Thigpen stated.
The body was taken to a bathtub in the home, where West dismembered it the next day and Barnes used a burn barrel to further dispose of the body.
Nearly two years later, investigators who went to the Timothy Road found that the same burn barrel was on the property. Debris from the barrel was loaded into a plastic storage container. Those ashes were later determined to contain human remains.
Authorities who traveled to Tennessee found that Barnes also was in possession of the rifle she used to shoot Chance, as well as a container with additional remains.
“The remains were positively identified … using dental records, as being of Danielle Alicia Chance,” Thigpen said.
In the series of questioning by Nobles regarding the plea agreement, Barnes admitted she was “in fact, guilty.”
“Ms. Barnes is at this time accepting responsibility for her conduct and she deeply regrets this tragedy and its impact on the victim’s family,” Brewer said on behalf of his client.
Chance’s brother Wayne Rogers Chance and her father Wayne Elliott were in the courtroom Monday. Wayne Chance spoke for the family.
“I know she doesn’t show remorse, because I know her,” he said, noting he also lived with Barnes for a time. “I know she doesn’t have any sympathy, any morals. She went on and did this for the better part of two years while still being in contact with our family, pretending to be my sister.
“I finally feel we have justice, we have peace, we have closure, and I know that God is going to still vindicate us through this situation,” Chance concluded.
Brewer said it was a fully-negotiated plea, which he called the product of a substantial period of negotiations. The judge said he had no problem with the agreement, noting that Barnes would be “locked up quite a good while.”
Barnes will also be responsible for restitution in the form of funeral expenses, a mandatory stipulation. That amount has not yet been determined.
West is currently awaiting sentencing.
Initially charged with accessory to murder, West pleaded guilty in February to dismembering human remains. She is expected to be sentenced later this month or in June.
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