Dateline   |  September 20, 2013

'The Officer's Wife' part 11

The trial of Levi Chavez goes to the jury.  They start to deliberate, but are deeply divided.  Finally, the reach a verdict.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> or $20 off $100 with your coupon. jcpenney. suicide or murder?

>> if levi is convicted, life in prison .

>> yeah.

>> or he walks free.

>> yeah.

>> behind closed doors after five weeks of testimony, the jury could finally discuss the evidence.

>> it was mentally, emotionally draining.

>> we spoke to six of the people levi called "my jury."

>> what did you think of him continuing to refer to you as "my jury."

>> that was a little disturbing.

>> they began deliberating, took a quick vote and realized they were far from unanimous. but they did agree on some things. all of you know someone that's had an affair?

>> yeah.

>> yes.

>> any of you know someone that had as many affairs as levi chavez .

>> someone made the comment can we all agree that levi chavez is a dirt bag.

>> and apparently they could agree on that, while simultaneously setting it aside, concentrating on the evidence, and not levi 's bad behavior.

>> we also said we couldn't judge him on his character. it was our job to judge him on the facts that were presented to us.

>> some of the comments the state said levi made about his wife they couldn't get over.

>> he called her a useless piece of skin. to me, that meant i'm done with tera. that's kind of what made me think he killed her.

>> they fought long and hard about how tera was found and about the gun that killed her. they asked for the glock to be brought into the jury room.

>> we played a lot with the gun. we put the magazine in, took the magazine out, put the magazine in, we compared it to the photos.

>> after a day of examining the evidence, they couldn't agree.

>> my question was what happens if we can't make a decision. i thought for sure there was no way. we were too far apart.

>> the jurors went home for the night and when they came back the next day, they took a vote. now they were unanimous. the court summoned the cordova and chavez families.

>> shaky. wasn't quite prepared for that moment.

>> how did levi look?

>> he looked very worried.

>> before i call up the jury and find out what the verdict is, i have been observing through this trial there's a lot of animosity in this courtroom. you could cut the tension with a knife in here.

>> the judge ordered quiet in the courtroom and instructed the families to leave separately after the verdict.

>> juror number 51, has the jury reached a verdict?

>> yes, your honor.

>> can you hand the verdict form to the bailiff. mr. chavez , please rise. we find the defendant, levi chavez , not guilty as charged in count one.

>> not guilty. levi chavez was about to walk free.

>> were you looking at levi at the moment they read the verdict?

>> yes. all of us were hugging and saying a prayer after. it was very -- it is just like it's over.

>> but the other family in court listened in agony and quickly left.

>> justice has not been served.

>> i immediately put my arm around theresa and got her out of there and wanted to get her home.

>> i was shocked, disappointed and disgusted with our system.

>> so how did the jury reach that not guilty verdict ? prosecutors they said simply failed to make their case. several said they were baffled how little evidence was presented.

>> when the prosecution rested, i was like -- i was expecting much more from them.

>> i really would have hoped them to take out two of the mistresses and put in something else that would give us more hard evidence but they didn't.

>> many told us they specifically didn't believe one of those mistresses.

>> rose slama.

>> no.

>> couldn't trust her?

>> not at all.

>> what did you say?

>> don't trust her with a ten foot pole.

>> aaron jones . good police officer ?

>> definitely not.

>> no.

>> jones testified that the gun's magazine had been released, but when the jury looked at the photos, they weren't so sure.

>> for me no one proved to me that that magazine was unseated.

>> so the fact the defense expert tried to show how it could be done and couldn't do it, that wasn't some huge fail for the defense?

>> no.

>> not at all.

>> remember, the jurors never heard the comments attributed to tera from her family and friends that if something happened to her, levi did it. in the end, all of the jurors we spoke with said it came down to reasonable doubt . one was upset that they weren't able to convict.

>> i mean, it was not a decision that i wanted to give, but i had to because of the reasonable doubt .

>> so you think levi got away with murder?

>> unfortunately i do.

>> the jurors i talked to said they were stunned when the prosecution rested. they thought to themselves that's it, there's no more? did you guys screw this up?

>> no, we gave them the evidence, one, we were allowed to give, and two, that was out there. we don't get to create the evidence.

>> so my question is was it worth it?

>> yes.

>> even though you didn't get the result you wanted.

>> yes.

>> yes, we know the truth.

>> we know the truth and tera's words, even though they weren't heard in that courtroom, they're being heard today.

>> not guilty. i am innocent.

>> after the acquittal, levi charged out of court and straight through the press corp he felt had been harassing him for years.

>> i knew i would be acquitted. i didn't do anything wrong. i am not surprised at all.

>> you are the only member of levi 's family that's willing to talk to us. how come levi doesn't want to talk?

>> i feel the media has really -- i don't think they gave him a fair chance. nobody in the family ever said anything bad about the cordova. we're all victims and i really do feel sorry for them, i really do. they can take this apology from my family, but you know what, levi is a victim.

>> his attorney says levi has no plans to return to law enforcement . he still lives in the albuquerque area with his wife, heather, their young son, and levi 's two kids with tera, who are now 11 and 15.

>> do you think levi is being a better husband to her than he was to tera?

>> levi is being an excellent husband and father.

>> the cordovas continue to pursue their wrongful death civil lawsuit against their former son-in-law. since his acquittal, levi has asked a judge to dismiss the case.

>> we're all here to remember tera.

>> last month on her birthday family and friends came together in los lunas to remember tera chavez . she has been gone for six years. for all of those that loved her, tera is never really that far away .

>> i will be in good company if something happened to me now, wouldn't i, josh. i can't have my baby. she's my angel.

>>> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll be back again next friday at 9:00, 8:00 central. and i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today." i am lester holt for all of us at nbc