BERNALILLO, N.M.—The father of a woman who prosecutors say was killed by her husband in a staged suicide says his daughter was excited about her future and wasn't depressed.

Joseph Cordova told jurors Wednesday that his daughter, 26-year-old Tera Chavez, blew him a kiss the last time he saw her.

He said he never believed his daughter took her own life and he was shocked when he went to his daughter's home two days after she died to pick out a dress for her funeral, the Albuquerque Journal reported (

"There were boxes everywhere. Everything was packed—like she didn't exist," Cordova said through tears and clenched teeth in the trial of former Albuquerque police officer Levi Chavez. "There were no clothes in the closet to put her in."

Prosecutors say Levi Chavez shot his wife with his department-issued gun in 2007 at their Los Lunas home, then tried to make her death look like a suicide. They say Chavez killed his wife in part because she discovered he staged the theft of their truck for insurance money. Both were also having extramarital affairs.

Before Cordova drove to the home to find a dress, he said he asked for a meeting with Levi Chavez.

Levi Chavez came to his house with his father and brother and sat on a love seat, Cordova testified.

"He leaned back and said: 'I no longer have tears for your daughter,'" Cordova said. "He said: 'You're going to have to face the fact that Tera did this to herself.


This will be over in a week.'"

"I said: 'What will be over in a week?'" he continued. "He said: 'This mess.' A mess, that's what he called it."


Information from: Albuquerque Journal,