Self-defense or murder? Jury deliberates in Tai Chan trial

Tai Chan
Tai Chan

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Attorneys in the trial of a former Santa Fe County Deputy accused of killing another deputy have wrapped up their closing arguments. Now the jury will decide Tai Chan’s fate.

The jurors had the case more than eight hours Monday before deciding to recess. They’ll continue deliberation Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors and the defense have been hammering home their versions of what Chan did the night he shot and killed fellow Deputy Jeremy Martin.

“His conduct that evening was that of an intoxicated little frat boy, somebody who could not accept the reality that he just got punched in the nose and he didn’t like it,” said Gerald Byers, prosecutor.

Monday morning, prosecutors told the jury it is clearly first-degree murder. They described Chan’s injuries, saying he only had a bloody nose and that the crime was cold-blooded murder.

“He had to individually think 10 times, he had to think 10 times, he is killing Jeremy martin that is not a mistake,  that is a deliberate thought process, that is not clouded by any consumption of alcohol,” said the prosecutor.

Prosecutors say Jeremy Martin punched Chan in the nose and that’s when Chan grabbed a gun and started shooting after a night of drinking and arguing. It was October 2014 when Chan and Martin were staying the night at the Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces after dropping off an inmate.

The defense told the jury this was self-defense saying prosecutors are just making up any story they can about what happened that night. The defense claims that Martin grabbed Chan’s gun during the struggle and started shooting.

“We know what would’ve happened if Tai Chan had not acted to defend himself, we would’ve buried Tai Chan and Mr. Clark and I would be defending Jeremy Martin,” said Chan’s attorney, John Day.

The defense also told the jury that the decision boils down to voluntary manslaughter or self-defense. They claim the state could not prove first or second-degree murder.

“The first shot into the ceiling from that pistol was the shot that Tai told you Jeremy fired at him. The shot that Jeremy fired at him 45 degrees into the ceiling,” said Chan’s attorney.

On Friday, Tai Chan took the stand. He got emotional as he described why he had to shoot his partner, saying Martin beat him with his own gun and shot at him first before he took it away and started firing at Martin.

Chan and witnesses who were out with the deputies earlier in the night claim the two were arguing over a double murder case in Santa Fe.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Tai Chan faces life in prison.

KRQE News 13’s Haley Rush is live tweeting the trial: @krqehaley>> 

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