ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Jurors ended their first day of deliberations on Monday without reaching a verdict in the murder trial of a former Albuquerque police officer accused of killing his wife, after hearing weeks of salacious testimony about his affairs with co-workers.
The jury of nine women and three men in Sandoval County will decide the guilt or innocence of Levi Chavez, 32.
Earlier in the day, jurors asked to see a piece of evidence, but further details were not immediately available.
The case has further tarnished the reputation of the Albuquerque Police Department, which is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department over a series of police shootings.
The trial included allegations that officers at the scene removed and even flushed key evidence down a toilet.
The deliberations followed emotional closing arguments on Friday in which prosecutors told jurors that Chavez killed 26-year-old Tera Chavez in October 2007 after she confronted him about his philandering ways and because she thought he had staged the theft of a truck for insurance purposes.
They say Chavez went to his wife’s house, found her asleep in front of a television, shoved his department-issued gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
Then he showered and went to spend the night with a girlfriend, prosecutor Bryan McKay said.
“This was not some heat of passion, an argument,” McKay said. “He thinks he has committed the perfect murder.”
Chavez’s attorney, David Serna, said Tera Chavez was depressed and took her own life because of her volatile marriage and her own crumbling affair with the husband of her maid of honor.
Before her death, Serna said, Tera Chavez called his client nearly 200 times and left a string of text messages threatening to hurt herself because he was away again with another woman.
“He thought it was one of her threats to lure him back,” Serna said.
Serna also attacked the credibility of former Valencia County Sheriff’s Detective Aaron Jones who he said unfairly harassed Chavez and convinced his mistresses that he was involved in a murder when it was really a suicide.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Chavez acknowledged having a string of mistresses, searching a website on how to kill someone with martial arts moves. and ignoring his wife’s calls for help.
But he denied killing his wife.
“Absolutely not,” he told jurors.