Attorneys are presenting closing arguments in the re-trial 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. Watch live streaming video of the trial (when it is available) in player above starting at 8:00 a.m. local time, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
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.
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday. 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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