Chavez murder trial stalls over evidence fight

June 17, 2013 • State News

BERNALILLO, N.M. (AP) — The trial of a former Albuquerque police officer accused of killing his wife stalled Monday over a defense attorney’s complaint that key evidence and documents have been withheld.

State District Judge George P. Eichwald told jurors to go home without hearing any new testimony as attorneys argued over the evidence in the murder trial of Levi Chavez. He also ordered Richard Farrelly, the state insurance fraud agent who investigated the disappearance of Chavez’s truck in 2007, to turn over five boxes of documents [auth] related to his investigation.

The court, will review the documents from those boxes during the next two days and decide whether any of it should be turned over to attorney David Serna, who is representing Chavez in the murder trial that began last week

Prosecutors say Chavez shot his 26-year-old wife, Tera Chavez, with his department-issued gun in 2007 and then tried to make her death look like a suicide. Prosecutors also argue that Chavez killed his wife partly to cover up an insurance fraud case concerning his stolen truck.

Eichwald said he would ask attorney Brad Hall, at the request of Serna, why he didn’t turn over documents from a civil case involving Chavez. Hall is representing the family of Tera Chavez in a wrongful death lawsuit against Levi Chavez

In addition, Eichwald said he had, “grave concerns” about whether “anyone bothered to subpoena Brad Hall’s entire file.”

“My problem is that it appears some information is being filtered through the civil attorney,” Eichwald said.

In response to news of Eichwald’s proposed motion, Hall told the Albuquerque Journal that he hadn’t seen or heard about it.

“But I do know that the criminal defense has had, and has had access to, everything we’ve had, and they appear at this point to be playing litigation games,” Hall said. “I’m not involved in the criminal case, but my office has turned over everything, to everybody, multiple times. Levi Chavez’s criminal lawyer entered an appearance in the civil case and was deeply involved in that process.”

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