LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – A string of hotel guests took the stand Tuesday morning in the trial for Tai Chan, the Santa Fe County deputy accused of murdering a fellow deputy.
Guests described what they heard the night of the shooting as the two deputies were arguing and fighting. A couple of witnesses said they heard fighting and yelling before shots were fired.
“We heard a big boom and then get the f*** out of here,” said witness Tanya Tartaglia.
Guests at the Hotel Encanto say shortly after that, they heard a series of rapid gunshots. They also described seeing bullets and blood in the elevator
Police said after a night of drinking and arguing Tai Chan gunned down Deputy Jeremy Martin – shooting Martin in the back as he ran away down the hall outside their hotel room.
Both prosecutors and the defense asked each hotel guest to describe the gunshots specifically and carefully Tuesday.
Martin’s widow also took the stand. She was only on the stand for a couple minutes saying she met Chan at a social gathering once. The defense did not ask her any questions.
Tuesday afternoon, hotel employees took the stand. They said Martin was in the lobby asking if anyone had seen Chan the night he was killed.
“He said did you see anybody, a guy running around here, and I said no,” said Joyce Hignight.
Hotel employees used the words anxious, frantic, and excited when describing Martin looking for Chan.
A security guard at the hotel also took the stand. He claims he actually saw Chan going after Martin.
“I heard a couple more gunshots and then I saw the victim running toward me crying for help, crying call police, call ambulance,” said Marvin Zamora. “That’s when I saw the suspect a couple seconds later, moments later, coming after him.”
The defense fired back saying his story changed. They said the security guard did not initially tell police about seeing Chan.
No one has said what Chan and Martin were arguing about or what the motive may have been. Prosecutors say this was murder. Chan claims it was self-defense.
The two were on their way home from dropping an inmate off in Arizona at the time of the shooting.
Chan was fired by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office after his arrest.