Defense files motion to dismiss murder case against former deputy
J.R. Oppenheim and Tessa Mentus
April 13, 2017 08:49 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The lawyer for a former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy accused in the murder of a colleague filed a motion to dismiss his indictment over "outrageous government conduct."
John Day, the defense attorney for former deputy Tai Chan, filed the motion in Doña Ana County's District Court on Wednesday asking a judge to dismiss the case. The defense also filed a motion to disqualify the district attorney's office in the case.
Police charged Chan with shooting and killing another deputy, Jeremy Martin, while they were in Las Cruces transporting an inmate. The trial against Chan last year ended in a mistrial when the jury could not agree on a verdict. A second trial is expected to take place on May 8.
In one motion, Day points to six specific issues in the criminal investigation as grounds to dismiss the case entirely.
"There is a laundry list of outrageous conduct in this case that cumulatively warrants dismissal of the indictment and bars retrial," Day wrote in one of the motions. "This is especially important here, where the state has already expended significant tax payer [sic] funds on the trial of a botched investigation that in half the jury voting for a not guilty verdict for even the lowest charge of voluntary manslaughter."
One item the defense objects to in its motions includes allegations from the lead detective in the case regarding retaliation against her by the Las Cruces Police Department. Another focuses on improper statements made to the media leading up to the jury trial.
Other claims include withholding evidence, specifically text messages and pictures in Martin's cell phone. Day said his team sent that phone to an expert in Arizona to be examined. In the motion, Day wrote the expert found sexual and flirtatious text messages between Martin and other men and women, along with sexually suggestive pictures of Martin in women's underwear.
"These are text messages with other people that lead up to the night of the shooting, and it's information that should have been turned over immediately," Day said in a phone interview with KOB-TV on Wednesday. "And the point is that we have the police have a responsibility to chisel everything that's there. They don't get to pick and choose what they think is important."
Day also wants the district attorney prosecuting the case removed. He claims District Attorney Mark D'Antonio sent a scathing letter to the Las Cruces Police Department earlier this month about the way the case was mismanaged. Now, Day plans to call him as a witness to discredit the investigation.
"It's stunning," Day said. "And what's even more stunning is that you have a district attorney and a lead detective raising the same questions, raising the same issues. I've never seen that before."
Day has requested the U.S. attorney's office investigate the Las Cruces Police Department for police corruption and obstruction of justice.
A hearing to address the motions filed Wednesday has not yet been scheduled.
The Las Cruces Police Department and the City of Las Cruces said Thursday they are aware of the motions in the Chan case and deny the corruption and obstruction allegations. They said they will cooperate with any investigation by the U.S attorney's office.
“All employees of LCPD are committed to transparency and maintaining community trust. We will work with any investigating agency," LCPD Chief Jaime Montoya said.
J.R. Oppenheim and Tessa Mentus
Updated: April 13, 2017 08:49 PM
Created: April 12, 2017 06:07 PM
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