LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – The State rested its case on Thursday in the re-trial of former Deputy Tai Chan, who’s accused of murdering his partner in a drunken rage.
Now, it’s the defense’s turn to present evidence to the jury.
The defense is trying to prove that Chan killed his fellow deputy in self-defense during a struggle, pointing on Thursday to the possibility of Jeremy Martin’s DNA being on Chan’s gun.
“To a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, Tai Chan was a source of the major DNA profile that was resolved from this mixture,” said Raman Sandhu-Kirmer, a DNA expert. “Jeremy Martin could not be eliminated as a possible contributor to this DNA mixture.”
That’s what the defense expert said about the gun Chan used in October 2014 when he shot Martin five times in the back at a Las Cruces hotel.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies were staying at the Hotel Encanto while on a prisoner transport.
Witnesses say the two got into an argument after a night of drinking.
Prosecutors say Chan gunned down Martin as Martin was running away.
The defense says Martin attacked Chan and after a struggle for the gun, Chan fired in self-defense.
Despite the defense raising the possibility on Thursday that Martin touched the gun used in the killing, the prosecution pointed out that is not a certainty.
“Would it be wrong for a person to represent that that DNA belonged to Jeremy Martin?” a prosecutor asked the DNA expert.
“There is no way I can conclusively say that it was his DNA,” Sandhu-Kirmer said.
In fact, she also testified to the concept of “secondary transfer.”
For example, if Martin and Chan shook hands, Martin’s DNA could show up on Chan’s gun even if Martin never actually touched it.
The prosecution was down an attorney on Thursday after District Attorney Mark D’Antonio said Rusty Prindle resigned from the DA’s Office that morning.
D’Antnoio said, despite being in the middle of trial, it shouldn’t hurt the case.
Chan is charged with first-degree murder, meaning a premeditated killing.
However, the defense brought in a witness on Thursday who testified that Chan was too drunk to meet that standard.
“I think they are not able to form a deliberate intent,” said Dr. Cecile Marczinski.
This out-of-state professor testified as an expert on the effects of alcohol.
While Chan wasn’t tested at the time, the expert estimated his blood alcohol content was about .24, which is three times the legal limit to drive.
That’s based on what Chan ate and drank the night Chan shot and killed Martin.
A friend of Chan’s who had been drinking with the two that night, testified about how he drove by the hotel later that night and realized something was wrong.
“We saw the police lights and we heard that someone was being transported to the hospital. At the time I thought it was Tai, so I was going to the hospital to see if he was okay,” said Josh Sexauer.
The judge told the jury in court on Thursday to expect testimony from at least five more witnesses before the trial comes to a close.