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VERDICT WATCH: Tai Chan Sheriff’s Deputy Murder Trial

Cop Shoots, Kills Other Cop; Claims Self-Defense

A New Mexico jury is deliberating the fate of Tai Chan, the sheriff’s deputy accused of murdering fellow deputy Jeremy Martin in New Mexico. Chan’s first trial ended in a mistrial after a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. We will carry the verdict live (when it occurs) in player above.

Chan and Martin were both working for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department in October 2014 when they stopped overnight while returning home from a long-distance prisoner transport assignment.  The deputies went out for drinks and then went to a hotel.  In the hotel, Chan fired ten rounds at Martin.  Five rounds struck Martin in the back.  Martin died shortly later.

Chan claims Martin threatened to kill him with Chan’s own department-issued weapon.  Chan says he struggled to get the gun.  Upon getting the gun, Chan started firing.  Some of the rounds struck Martin in the hotel room.  Chan continued shooting Martin in the back as he chased Martin into the hallway.

Defense attorneys began their side of the case by calling a series of witnesses who were with Chan and Martin while the two were out drinking.  The friends largely agreed that the evening was a mix of fun and tension between Martin and Chan.  The defendant and the victim ultimately were dropped back off at their hotel, where they appeared friendly, the witnesses said.

The defense also called a beverage expert to the stand. Dr. Cecile Marczinski testified that Chan’s blood alcohol level was probably a .24 — three times the legal limit for driving a car — falling within a predicted scientific range of between .21 and .27 range.  She further testified that the mixture of the Red Bull (which has caffeine) and vodka would have resulted in Chan being much more drunk than he felt physically.  Alcohol constricts the blood vessels, she said, while caffeine relaxes the blood vessels.  The ultimate effect is that someone could be highly intoxicated but not be stumbling, tripping, or moving about the way someone who is highly intoxicated normally would.  Friends would probably not have looked at Chan and said, “you’re drunk,” but the mental impairment would be present, she said.

The victim’s alcohol level at the time of his death was .102 and 0.119 for the different fluids tested.

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.