Attorney for ex-deputy in murder case fights to get medical records released

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — On the October night when Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Martin was shot and killed, Las Cruces Police Department detectives took photos of a bed in a hotel room covered in bloody sheets.

The defense attorney for Tai Chan, the former deputy charged with murdering Martin, says the sheets are covered in Chan’s blood from Martin hitting him in the face. He says they support Chan’s claims that he acted in self-defense after a night of drinking and arguing with Martin. He hopes the photos will convince a judge to order the release of Martin’s medical records.

“It was a violent attack and we want to know what’s in these secret psychological records that the county is trying to keep secret,” said defense attorney John Day, who filed supplemental exhibits in Dona Ana District Court last week. He says the photographs are further evidence that the medical records are important to show whether Martin had any “propensity to violence, any psychological imbalance that led him to attack Deputy Chan that night.”

Read the Supplemental Reports:

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, which obtained the records during Martin’s employment screenings, has refused to release them. Neither the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office nor its private counsel, Albuquerque attorney Robert Becker, would comment for the story.

In court documents filed last week, SFCSO called Chan’s attempts to get Martin’s records a “quintessential fishing expedition.” SFCSO says the medical records are private under a host of laws and argues that Chan can’t prove he needs them for his defense, the legal standard needed to overcome those privacy laws and see the records.

“Defendant Chan’s claim that Mr. Martin’s medical and psychological records may reveal violent proclivities is insufficient to establish his entitlement to this discovery,” SFCSO’s court filing states. “The generalized need Defendant Chan describes arguably exists in every case where self-defense is raised.”

Chan’s mugshot doesn’t appear to show any facial injuries, but was taken “late in the game,” according to Day. “It’s not reflective of what happened, necessarily,” he said.

Both sides most recent filings included an exhibit of a lawsuit filed in February, in which Santa Fe resident Henry Milligan claimed Martin used excessive force by putting on handcuffs that were too tight.

“Defendant submits that this allegation of intentional use of excessive force and disregard for obvious and severe pain by Deputy Martin raise issues about his psychological state,” Chan’s attorney wrote.

SFCSO’s filing contends that the complaint “amounts to no more than unsubstantiated and unfounded allegations,” and that a review of the lapel camera video shows “deputy Martin was a complete gentleman when arresting Mr. Milligan for DWI.”

Day wants to know why Santa Fe County is “fighting so hard” to avoid the release of Martin’s medical records.

“This is thousands of dollars of Santa Fe County taxpayer money to keep records secret that should not be secret,” he said. “That makes me curious. What’s in there? Why are they spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to keep these records secret?”

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