Detective comes out on winning side of suit accusing him of being on 'witch hunt' | KOB 4
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Detective comes out on winning side of suit accusing him of being on 'witch hunt'

Brittany Costello
May 26, 2018 10:16 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – He was accused of doing the unthinkable.

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Levi Chavez, an Albuquerque Police Department officer, was charged with murdering his wife with his own service weapon in 2007. But those allegations remained allegations after he was acquitted in 2013.

That didn't stop him from filing suit against a detective in the case, saying he was wrongfully prosecuted.

Years later, a U.S. District Court has issued a judgment after the defendants filed for qualified immunity.

“There’s not a moment, there’s not a day goes by that this case doesn't haunt me,” said Aaron Jones, homicide detective for the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office at the time.

Jones said there's always that one case you can't kick. For him, it was Tera Chavez after she was found dead in her Los Lunas home with a gunshot wound to the mouth.

Her death at first was ruled a suicide. But soon after, her husband found himself in the center of it all, charged with her murder.

“The more that I unraveled on the case, the more that it became crystal clear to me that there was a problem,” Jones said. “All I was trying to do was my job and I was trying to do it to the best of my ability. My client, the deceased, couldn’t speak for herself and I owed it her.”

But did the best of his ability ultimately lead him to believe what he wanted, not what evidence suggested?

After being acquitted in 2013, that's exactly what Levi Chavez and his attorney claimed.

In a lawsuit filed in 2015, Jones is accused of going on a witch hunt. The suit claims "Jones' investigation was a continual blatant, unrelenting effort both to accuse Levi and ultimately to have him found guilty of a crime or crimes that he could not have been involved in."

Chavez claimed Jones helped alter medical examiners findings and taint witness testimonies, that there was no probable cause for his prosecution.

But Jones said he was just doing his job.

“(For) a lot of people, there are presumptions right out of the gate that it was some type of competition or that I was trying to climb some kind of department ladder, to do another cop. That couldn't have been further from the truth,” Jones said. “I think people have come to realize that I did what I thought was right come hell or high water and I wasn't going to stop until I found out the truth.”

A U.S. District Court agreed, and Jones was recently granted qualified immunity. It's a ruling Chavez is now appealing.

KOB left a message for Chavez’s attorney Saturday, but we have not yet heard back.

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Brittany Costello

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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