Santa Fe lawyer John Day said he discovered the substance listed in a police inventory simply as “drug” on Friday while reviewing evidence in the alleged deputy-on-deputy shooting. The powder had not previously been sent to the state forensic laboratory for testing.
“This is highly unusual … in that any unusual and possibly illegal street narcotics found at a homicide scene or in the personal effects of a homicide victim are always tested to determine what they are and what role, if any, the drugs played in the incident,” Day says in his court motion.
The 1.6 grams of powder were found when Las Cruces police searched Martin’s wallet and the packet “appears to be identical to ways in which … illegal narcotics are packaged for street sale,” says the defense motion, referring to the folded bindle. A 1.6-gram bindle is “known as a ‘teener’ or ‘half an eight,’ and by other slang names,” the motion adds.
The motion says that the DA’s office has now agreed to have the powder tested. Day also asked that some of the powder be preserved for more testing “by an independent laboratory,” given the “curious” decision by investigators or prosecutors not to have it examined before.
Illegal drugs often sold on the street in folded paper bindles like the one found on Martin “include methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and other drugs,” states the defense motion. An autopsy report found alcohol in Martin’s system but no drugs.
Day said he was concerned that the state Office of the Medical Investigator was not notified about the white powder and therefore did not specifically test for whatever the powder might turn out to be.
Las Cruces District Attorney Mark D’Antonio could not reached Monday for comment.
Chan, 27, is charged with an open count of murder in the October death of Martin, 29, the father of three who was shot four or five times from behind at the Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces.
The two Santa Fe County deputies got into an argument after drinking at a bar before the shooting occurred at the hotel, where they were staying during a prisoner-transport trip. An autopsy also showed signs of a possible fight before Martin was shot to death.
Chan, who police say admitted he shot Martin after he was picked up the night of the shooting, has pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled for Sept. 28 in Las Cruces.
A state District Court judge ruled Friday that Chan can return to Santa Fe pending the trial. Chan will be on house arrest and electronic monitoring. He’d previously been released from jail but had to stay in Doña Ana County.
Martin’s widow Sarah, who testified via telephone, and his mother, who appeared in person at court in Las Cruces, both objected to allowing Chan to come home. District Attorney D’Antonio also opposed modifying the conditions of release.