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Openings in former deputy’s murder case

Former Santa Fe sheriff’s deputy Tai Chan awaits the first witnesses in his first degree murder trial in Las Cruces on Tuesday. (Lauren Villagran/Albuquerque Journal)

LAS CRUCES — Attorneys in the first-degree murder case against former Santa Fe sheriff’s deputy Tai Chan delivered their opening statements Tuesday.

Chan stands accused of murdering law enforcement partner Jeremy Martin, a 29-year-old deputy, on Oct. 28, 2014. The defense claims Chan, 30, killed Martin in self-defense after an assault.

“The facts in this case will show there is only one victim in this case, one and only one: Jeremy Martin,” District Attorney Mark D’Antonio said in his opening statement in Third Judicial District Court. “Bang, bang, bang. The shots were rhythmic, methodical and accurate.”

Defense attorney Tom Clark said, “This is a self-defense case, one man defending himself against another man: two young cops in a life or death struggle.”

Attorneys spoke to a 15-member jury, including three alternates. A dozen women and three men sat in the jury box.

Jurors are expected to tour the scene of the crime at the Hotel Encanto on Tuesday.

Martin and Chan were staying overnight in Las Cruces after transporting a prisoner to Arizona.

Off duty that night in Las Cruces, the men went out drinking, met friends and returned to the hotel, room 711.

What transpired next, what led to Chan firing multiple rounds that struck Martin from behind, is the subject of the arguments in the case.

This is the second trial of Chan on first-degree murder. The first trial ended in a hung jury in June last year.

It is scheduled to last two weeks. Jurors are expected to hear the testimony of dozens of witnesses and see hundreds of exhibits.

Members of the Martin and Chan families sat on either end of the court’s front bench.

District Judge Fernando Macias is presiding over the case.


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