ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Levi Chavez, a former Albuquerque police officer acquitted of killing his wife two years ago, wants to become a lawyer.
Chavez in a lawsuit filed last week said he has been accepted into the University of New Mexico Law School’s entering class of 2016. The lawsuit is targeting the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office deputies who investigated him and other county officials.
Several law students and other people with ties to the school have commented on social media about Chavez’s becoming one of their peers.
Asked to comment about Chavez’s acceptance, the University of New Mexico School of Law issued the following statement through Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Jeffery Dubinski-Neessen: “Applicants to the University of New Mexico School of Law are evaluated for their potential for academic success in law school and their potential to contribute to our enriching educational environment. This is a rigorous and holistic process in which applications are reviewed by the admissions committee and are considered for admission based on a number of factors.”
Among them, the statement said, are “demonstrated intellectual capacity,” “academic achievement in undergraduate and/or graduate studies,” “employment history,” “life experiences,” “academic and personal motivation,” “commitment to public service,” “leadership potential,” “the extent to which the applicant has overcome educational and/or socio-economic disadvantages,” and “other indicators of the applicant’s potential success in legal studies and potential to make a significant contribution to the law school community and legal profession.”
According to the statement, “applicants must disclose any prior charges or disciplinary action taken against them in their application to be in compliance with the school’s character and fitness requirements. These disclosures are taken into consideration during the application review process.
“The faculty and administration at the University of New Mexico School of Law believe that diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives in the student body help to ensure a dynamic, productive, and positive learning experience.”
Shortly after he was acquitted of the murder charge, David Serna, Chavez’s defense attorney, told KOAT-TV that his client was taking courses at Central New Mexico Community College and was considering going to law school to study criminal law. Serna also told the station that Chavez was considering becoming a police officer again.
Chavez’s wife, Tera Chavez, was found dead of a gunshot wound in October 2007 in their home in Los Lunas. Her death was initially investigated as a suicide, but Chavez fell under suspicion and was indicted for murder and tampering with evidence in 2011. He was fired from the Albuquerque Police Department shortly afterward.
At trial, the prosecution attempted to convince jurors that he killed his wife in part to prevent her from testifying against him in an insurance fraud case tied to the alleged staged theft of his truck, past Journal coverage reads. The defense maintained that she committed suicide after months of depression and stress over their marriage.
A Sandoval County jury acquitted him of the charges in July 2013. The case was moved to Sandoval County because of the media attention it received.
Earlier this month, Chavez filed a lawsuit in connection with the investigation of his wife’s death. The civil rights lawsuit claims that Chavez’s rights were violated by the investigation and that investigators never had probable cause to charge him for his wife’s death.