The second trial of Tai Chan, the sheriff’s deputy accused of shooting and killing fellow deputy Jeremy Martin, is underway in New Mexico. Chan’s first trial ended in a mistrial after a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. Watch live streaming video of the trial (when it is available) in player above starting at 8:00 a.m. local time, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Chan and Martin were both working for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department in October 2014 when they stopped overnight while returning home from a long-distance prisoner transport assignment. The deputies went to a Hooters restaurant and then to a hotel. In the hotel, Chan fired ten rounds at Martin. Five rounds struck him. Martin died shortly later.
Chan took the stand in his first trial. There, he claimed Martin hit him in the face and then threatened to kill him with Chan’s own department-issued weapon. Chan then told jurors that the two deputies struggled for the gun. One round was fired during the struggle. Chan eventually said that he took control of the weapon and started shooting. Martin took off. Chan left the room as well and shot Martin in the hallway outside the room.
During opening statements, defense attorneys told jurors Chan would take the stand again in his second trial.
Jurors on Friday heard from police officers present on the scene. Several described odd or strange behavior from Chan. Officer Jonathan Boehne said Chan was acting as if he “wasn’t on planet Earth” and that Chan struggled or wasn’t able to answer basic questions.
Sgt. Todd Froats testified that Chan said he saw “people floating in the air,” “people in sweaters floating in the parking lot,” and “people trying to get him.” Though Chan and Martin had been out to several bars that night, Chan did not smell of alcohol, Froats testified.
Officer Max Weir introduced a series of text messages between Chan’s phone and Martin’s phone in the hours leading up to the shooting. Chan asked Martin, “where are you?” Martin responded, “outside having a chew.” Chan wrote back, “Thank God, bud. I’ve been so worried.” Martin wrote back, “anyways.”
Chan’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued for a judge to dismiss the case in the months leading up to the second trial. They claimed the investigation was botched. In a separate lawsuit, a local detective sought whistleblower status, claiming she was not given the proper resources to investigate the Martin shooting. Chan’s lawyers also have sought to introduce text messages from Martin which they believe show he was living a double life. Prosecutors denied that was the case.
The second trial is expected to last ten days in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
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