LAS CRUCES, N. M. – Jurors on Tuesday began deliberations in the case of a former New Mexico deputy accused of shooting and killing a fellow deputy during an alcohol-fueled dispute.
The judge gave jurors the long instructions for prosecutors and defense attorneys launched into closing arguments in the new trial of Tai Chan, who is charged with first-degree murder in the 2014 death of a Santa Fe County Deputy Jeremy Martin.
Prosecutors called Chan a “heartless killer,” says claims that he acted in self-defense was located. She pointed to forensic evidence that the bullet trajectories and the location of the intestines found in the hotel room where the two deputies were, while on a work trip.
They also pointed to the five bullet wounds in Martin’s body and showed photos of Chan after his arrest. Chan told authorities he was beaten up by Martin.
“See all the injuries to his body that indicate he was in a fight for his life? No. They are not there, they do not exist. His story is a lie,” Prosecutor Gerald Byers told jurors.
The prosecution also questioned the defense claims that Chan was too drunk that night to form any kind of intent which would have resulted in the shooting. They argued instead that Chan’s blood-alcohol content was almost the same as Martin’s after a night of drinking and that his behavior indicated that he was able to function as he was seen walking down a hotel hallway during the operation of his mobile phone.
The defense told jurors Chan was only trying to save his own life when he shot Martin.
Attorney John Day said Martin was the aggressor that night and had approached Chan with a gun saying he was going to shoot him, while they were in their hotel room.
“It is tragic that he died, but he made a choice. The man with the gun that fired first made a choice,” Day said.
Day also told jurors the investigation was defective and that the prosecution “does not take into account basic, important facts.”
Byers said the evidence found during the investigation supports the prosecution of the claims. He also noted that Martin was right-handed and would not come to Chan with a gun in his left hand, the defendant had described.
“It makes no sense,” he said.
Martin was unarmed, prosecutors have said. Responding officers found him wounded and staggering out of an elevator that night. He was taken to a Las Cruces hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Chan was found in a stairwell near the roof of the hotel.
An autopsy showed Martin was shot in the back and had other injuries that appeared related to a fight.
The trial wrapped up Friday with Chan taking the witness stand.
The first trial ended last year in a mistrial when jurors, not a unanimous decision.
Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News http://www.lcsun-news.com