The former Santa Fe sheriff's deputy accused of murdering a fellow deputy while on the job is on trial for the second time.
The trial in the New Mexico State District Court in Las Cruces, New Mexico began Tuesday with opening statements. Jurors are scheduled next to go to the hotel where the alleged murder happened, KFOX reported.
It took attorneys about eight hours Monday to pick 15 jurors, including three alternates, from a pool of 99.
Jurors will be asked to decide what the last jury could not, did Tai Chan act in self defense, or did he carry out a calculated murder of Jeremy Martin? The first trial ended in a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision. The judge declared a mistrial on day 11 after one juror voted for first degree murder, six for second-degree murder and seven for voluntary manslaughter, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Chan and Jerry Martin were on their way home from transporting prisoners to Arizona when the incident happened. They stayed at a hotel on October 28, 2014 when authorities say Chan shot Martin during an alcohol fueled argument.
Chan testified in the original trial that he and Martin got into a fight, Martin hit him in the face, and then they both struggled for the gun. Chan’s experience in law enforcement may help his testimony.
“People in law enforcement, Sheriff’s Deputies included, are skilled beyond average witnesses. And they provide very strong testimony,” said Mark Tate, a criminal defense attorney with the Tate Law Group.
The state is arguing Chan shot Martin in the back as he tried to run away. Chan’s attorneys argue he was acting in self-defense. Neither party denies Chan shot Martin.
Multiple witnesses who saw the crime scene testified in the first trial, including the first officer who arrived on scene and tried to save Martin’s life. She emotionally told the jury how she found Martin lying face down with holes in his back.
According to a report from the Albuquerque Journal, jurors found holes in the story of both the defense and prosecution. At least one juror blamed Chan for shooting Martin while he was leaving the scene and said he should have locked the door and called police instead.
Tate said Chan shooting Martin as he ran away makes it more difficult to argue self defense, because as Martin ran away, so did the risk to Chan. But the burden of proof is on the prosecutor, not on Chan.
“(The prosecution) have to prove that it was not self defense, they have to prove that it was intentional with a desire to kill Martin,” said Tate. “So they’ve put a big burden on themselves.”
There are other facts that hurt a murder case, according to Tate. Those facts include the discovery of a cellphone that showed Martin may have been living a double life and the use of alcohol. But Martin’s family said he was a loving father and the account Chan gave of him isn’t the man they knew.
“Jurors sometimes side with the guy who they think is the good guy,” said Tate.
There were also major questions into the integrity of the investigation. The cases lead detective filed a lawsuit saying she was not given the proper resources for the investigation. A blood stained sheet was not tested, which put doubt in the juror’s minds, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Chan was released in November 2014 after his parents handed over the deeds to two of their properties to post a $600,000 bond.