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Former deputy claims self-defense in murder retrial

Kai Porter
May 22, 2017 07:24 AM

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- It will soon be up to a jury to decide Tai Chan's fate.

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The former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy took the stand in his own defense Friday afternoon claiming he shot his fellow deputy Jeremy Martin in self-defense. Prosecutors say it was cold-blooded murder.

Chan gave his version of events when he testified in his first murder trial last year. In that trial, the jury couldn't reach a decision and the judge declared a mistrial.

To watch the first part of Kai Porter's report, click here

On Friday, Chan told the new jury he shot martin to save his own life. He said the trouble started at Dublin's Pub where he and martin were drinking with friends on Oct. 27, 2014. Chan said Martin got upset when Chan made a comment about a double homicide Martin responded to in Santa Fe.

"I said, 'You shot those kids,'" Chan told the jury. "He got really angry."

Chan and Martin eventually got a ride back to Hotel Encanto where Chan claims Martin brought up the double homicide again, pushed him and kicked him, then later threatened to shoot him.

"He had this stare," Chan said. "I'll never forget the way he looked at me. It was like a blank stare -- no emotion, no anything. And he said, 'I'm going to shoot you.' Then he pointed the gun at me."

Chan said there was a struggle for the gun.

"I was able to get the gun," he said. "So I was like I have the gun, I have the gun. In my mind, I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I got the gun.' And then I just got up and I started shooting."

On cross-examination, the state zeroed in on the moment Chan shot Martin five times as Martin ran out of the room and down the hallway.

Prosecutor: "Is it true you shot Deputy Martin in the back as he was running away?"
Chan: "Yes."
Prosecutor: "Is it true you shot Deputy Martin even though you saw no weapon in his hands?"
Chan: "Yes."
Prosecutor: "Isn't it true your intention was to kill Officer Martin that night?"
Chan: "No, my intention was to stop him from killing me."

Before Chan took the stand, his wife Leah Tafoya-Chan testified. She told the jury she was on the phone with Chan when the shooting happened.

"I heard, 'Open the door. Open the f***ing door. You're not going anywhere," she said. "… That was not Tai's voice. … He told me he had been punched in the face and kicked in the balls."

I felt like he was scared and panicked and I was still yelling into the phone," she continued. "He sounded confused scared and terrified. … Tai said, 'Sit down, sit down.' I heard gunshots."

Tafoya-Chan said she thought her husband was dead.

On cross-examination, the state questioned how Tafoya-Chan was able to clearly hear what was happening on the other end of the phone.

Prosecutor: "You heard what you testified to over your own screaming?"
Tafoya-Chan: "Yes, I wasn't screaming continuously ... I was able to hear what was on the phone."

The jury will be back in the courtroom Tuesday for closing arguments, and then they will start deliberating.

Credits

Kai Porter

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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