SANTA FE — Guests who were staying at the Hotel Encanto the night Santa Fe Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Martin was killed by gunfire from former deputy Tai Chan in October 2014 told jurors about the gunshots that woke them up and the bloody scene they saw the next morning as Chan’s trial for first-degree murder entered its second day in Las Cruces.
Chan, 29, is accused of shooting Martin, then 29, in the back after a heated argument on Oct. 28, 2014 while the two were staying after transporting a prisoner to Arizona. Attorneys for Chan, fired from the sheriff’s office after the shooting, maintain he shot fellow deputy Martin in self defense.
A security guard testified he heard shots and he saw Chan running after Martin, who was shouting for help. A defense lawyer said the guard had changed his story since talking to police the night of the shooting. There was also testimony from hotel workers about Martin looking for Chan in the hotel lobby shortly before the shooting upstairs.
Tanya Tartaglia of Bisbee, Ariz., said she was fast asleep when she and others staying in her room were woken up by a commotion in the next-door room. “We heard a loud boom against the wall,” she said. “It startled all of us. We heard a big boom, and then, ‘Get the (expletive) out of here.’ I thought it might have been people partying.”
Tartaglia then said she said she heard six or seven gunshots right outside her door. She said the stress and uncertainty of the situation caused her to have an asthma attack.
Georgia resident and hotel guest Randy Hudson said he was awakened by a loud dispute in the room directly above him. He said he then heard rapid gunfire, followed by a pause, and then three more shots. He locked his door and tried climbing out his window out of fear, but said the window wasn’t able to open wide enough for him to fit through. “I’m just trying to get over this,” Hudson said. “It’s probably the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Tartalia said she left her room the next morning and was escorted by a maintenance worker. She said she saw two bullets in the hallway wall across from her room a foot or so off the floor, and she said she got a peak into the room where the deputies’ argument took place. “There was a lot of blood on the queen-size bed closest to the door,” she said. Tartaglia said she saw a lot of blood in the hallway and elevator. “It was a bizarre thing to see,” she said. “There was a lot of (blood) in the elevator.”
Chan’s attorney argued in opening statements that his client shot in self-defense. Prosecutors are arguing that Chan shot 10 rounds at Martin, who tried to escape down a hallway, then into an elevator. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. The first witness to take the stand Tuesday was Sarah Martin, the widow of Deputy Martin. Sarah Martin said she’d met Chan once and talked to her husband about 30 minutes before the fatal shooting.
The trial is being streamed live on the KOAT-TV website.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.