LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Tai Chan spent more than three hours on the stand Friday trying to convince a jury that it was not murder when he gunned down his fellow Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputy during a hotel room fight.
Chan admitted Friday to shooting Jeremy Martin in the back as Martin ran away, but claimed he did it because he didn’t know if Martin also had a gun.
Tai Chan said the mood shifted during a night of drinking when he made a joke to Martin about a double homicide in Santa Fe where the two of them worked as deputies.
Chan said he thought he and Martin had made up when they got back to Hotel Encanto at the end of that night in October 2014. They were staying in Las Cruces while traveling for a prisoner transport.
But Chan says the argument came up again, and that Martin pushed and kicked him so Chan left the room.
Again, Chan says he thought he and Martin made up when Martin found him outside the hotel, and the two walked back together.
However, back at the room, Chan claims Martin got aggressive, this time grabbing Chan’s gun and pointing it at him. Then, the two struggled for control of it.
“I grabbed the gun. I was like, ‘I have the gun, I have the gun,’ or no…” Chan said, correcting himself. “At that point, I reached up and then a shot went off.”
Chan said Martin fired first into the ceiling as they fought over the gun.
Then, Chan said he got it out of Martin’s hands.
“I just got up, and I started shooting,” he said.
Afterwards, he said, he hid in the stairwell because he was afraid Martin would come for him.
In fact, prosecutors say Chan used his service weapon to shoot Martin five times in the back.
Martin ran, taking the elevator to the lobby where he fell to the floor.
Chan made false claims about a bomb and dangerous people with guns when police arrested him.
Friday, he said he was just trying to convey the level of danger he had faced, that he thought Martin was still armed in the building and he wanted officers to be careful.
Chan was the last witness before the defense rested its case Friday evening.
The jury will be called back into court on Tuesday to hear closing arguments and begin deliberating Chan’s fate.