The second trial of Tai Chan, the sheriff’s deputy accused of murdering 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.
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday. Defense attorneys are planning to call a DNA expert, three Las Cruces Police Department employees, and a beverage expert to the witness stand, LawNewz has learned. The beverage expert will likely testify about the drinks Chan and Martin had ordered before returning to their hotel room. The defendant is also expected to take the stand at some point.
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 out for drinks and then went to a hotel. In the hotel, Chan fired ten rounds at Martin. Five rounds struck him. Martin died shortly later.
Chan claims Martin threatened to kill him with Chan’s own department-issued weapon.
Testimony Wednesday included an assessment from crime scene expert Joseph Foster. He believes Chan and Martin fought around the hotel room bed nearest the room’s bathroom. The bed was found askew by investigators shortly after Martin’s death. A gym bag was upside-down on the floor, Chan’s cell phone was nearby, and Chan’s blood was on a comforter. The blood patterns indicate Chan was close to the comforter when the blood was deposited, he said. Chan was near the head of the bed and Martin was near the foot of the bed (closest to the hotel room door), Foster believes. This positioning supports the forensic evidence of bullets fired inside the room from the position of Chan.
One bullet, presumably the first bullet, could have been fired by either Chan or Martin, Foster testified, but he believes it was more likely than not fired by Chan at Martin. It was found in the ceiling near the bathroom. The trajectory suggests it came from the head of the bed, where Chan was located. From there, the rest of the bullets were definitely fired by Chan, he said. Foster says Chan “re-positioned” himself several times as he fired at Martin.
Also on Wednesday, jurors heard more audio recordings from Chan’s arrest. Chan said that Martin tried to kill him; that he was a “cop” who tried to do the “right thing;” that there was a “bomb” in the hotel (but that he refused to provide further information); and that Chan also said, “I shot my friend, but he shot me first.”
The trial was slated to last ten days.
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