Parents of dead NM woman struggle with acquittal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The father of a New Mexico woman whose husband was acquitted of murder said Friday the family still believes former Albuquerque police officer Levi Chavez staged her suicide.

“Justice was not served,” Joseph Cordova told the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/13oAoz0) and KOAT-TV (http://bit.ly/18ozpjN ). “He was found not guilty, which in our eyes is not innocent.”

A Sandoval County jury on Tuesday acquitted Chavez of first-degree murder and evidence tampering in the 2007 death of their daughter, Tera Chavez, who was shot in the mouth with her estranged husband’s department-issued gun.

“No one can tell me that someone that’s going to commit suicide would turn a gun upside down, in a difficult position, shove it all the way to the back of their throat and then pull that trigger,” Cordova said. “This was not a suicide. This is a person that was able to commit murder and get away with it.”

Jurors, however, said there was no solid evidence to prove the prosecution’s assertion that Chavez killed his wife and made it look like suicide.

“I feel that if all the evidence was allowed into this trial, I definitely feel that the verdict would have been much different,” he said. “We just couldn’t meet beyond a reasonable doubt. I’m not pointing the finger at the jury. They did what they could do.”

Cordova said his daughter, who had a son and daughter with Levi Chavez, would never have killed herself and “left those beautiful children.”

He said he and his wife, Theresa, have not been allowed any contact with the grandchildren since around the time their son-in-law was indicted in April 2011.

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