BERNALILLO, NM (KRQE) - Levi Chavez's mother Rita Romero says her family adored Tera Chavez.
"I loved Tera; we loved Tera," Romero testified during her son's murder trial Tuesday.
Often through tears, Romero led the jury through her relationship with her daughter-in-law and what her son was doing in the hours before he reported his wife's death.
Romero testified she felt guilty for keeping Levi and Tera together even as their marriage was crumbling.
"For many years I guilted my son into going back because of my grandkids and because of Tera," Romero said. "I loved her, and she needed someone. I always felt like she needed to be taken care of."
Romero says Levi, an Albuquerque Police Department officer at the time, was at her home Sunday evening the 2007 weekend when Tera died.
After struggling to reach Tera, she called the Los Lunas salon where Tera worked and learned she'd called in sick Saturday and hadn't shown up Sunday. Romero says she told Levi his wife had called in sick.
"[Levi] just got up; he put his food down. He said, 'You know, Mom, I'm going to the house,'" Romero testified.
Less than an hour later, Levi called 911 to report Tera's death. She was shot once in the head with Levi's APD-issued gun.
Prosecutors say Levi had been at the home earlier that weekend to kill Tera, partly to keep her from turning him in for staging the theft of his truck for the insurance money.
Last week prosecutors introduced cell records that show Levi's cell phone was shut off for 15 hours the day Tera was found dead including part of the timeframe where medical investigators believe Tera died.
Romero admitted that she tried to reach her son and found it weird that he wouldn't call her back.
"Because he didn't answer me I got very concerned after a while," Romero explained. "He never went that long without returning my calls."
Throughout the trial prosecutors have presented witnesses to call into question whether Levi was truly a grieving husband after his wife's death pointing to how quickly Tera's belongings were boxed up and how Levi brought a mistress to the couple's home weeks after Tera died.
Romero disputed that Tuesday, saying her son was distraught and "broken" after Tera's death.
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