ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A stipulated judgment dismissing the civil lawsuit brought by the estate of Tera Andrea Cordova Chavez against her husband, former Albuquerque Police Department officer Levi Chavez Jr., ends litigation involving the former officer.
Chavez, now remarried, claimed his wife’s death at the family home in October 2007 was a suicide, but he was indicted on murder charges in 2011 and exonerated of them last July after a six-week trial in Sandoval County.
Meanwhile, the civil lawsuit was still pending, except for a $230,000 payment by APD supervisors, who had also been named as defendants.
The civil lawsuit claimed that “unchecked fraternization” at APD and poor control over gun policies both contributed to Tera Chavez’s death, whether it was a homicide or a suicide, the document says.
Papers filed in 2nd Judicial District Court on Thursday resolve the civil case – which was on track for trial in 2014 – with no payment by Chavez, who has said he is broke. Chavez did agree to place proceeds from his late wife’s life insurance policy into trusts for the children.
The estate also got an agreement from Chavez and his insurance company arising from coverage of the pickup truck that disappeared not long before Tera Chavez’s death. The truck was later found in Mexico with a VIN number plate from another APD officer’s personal truck.
After liens and insurer’s expenses were deducted, the remaining $7,861 was split between the two children’s trusts.
At the criminal trial, the prosecution sought to introduce evidence about the truck to support its theory about a motive, because Tera Chavez had allegedly discovered an insurance fraud scheme in which she believed her husband was involved.
In the stipulated judgment, Chavez executed a financial disclosure form and provided it to the attorney who represents Tera Chavez’s estate. It showed no collectible assets, according to the document.
“They satisfied (attorney) Maureen Sanders and my client that there aren’t any assets. So (a trial) would spend money that the children have to get a judgment that can’t be collected,” said Brad Hall, who filed the civil lawsuit for the estate.
The judgment also says that unless other immediate family members of Tera Chavez gain any income from the commercialization of the death of Tera Chavez, the parties won’t cooperate with “media outlets, publishers, producers, writers, relatives or anyone who capitalizes” on her life and death.
Prosecutors argued that Levi Chavez had shot his wife once in the mouth in the couple’s home near Los Lunas and tried to make it look like a suicide.
The defense contended that Tera Chavez committed suicide because she was depressed, largely because of her husband’s many extramarital affairs.