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State rests in Tai Chan retrial; defense calls witnesses

Kai Porter
May 18, 2017 06:55 PM

LAS CRUCES -- The defense began calling witnesses Thursday in Tai Chan's murder retrial after the state rested its case.

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Chan, a former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy, is charged with first-degree murder, accused of gunning down fellow deputy Jeremy Martin at a Las Cruces hotel in October 2014. The deputies were planning to spend the night at Hotel Encanto on their way back to Santa Fe after transporting a prisoner to Arizona.

Senior Trial Attorney Rusty Prindle, who was one of the attorneys prosecuting the case, suddenly resigned Thursday morning. District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said he found out Thursday morning when he got to court. He wouldn’t comment further saying it was a personnel issue. The D.A.'s office said it expects the impact on the trial to be minimal and it will proceed as scheduled.

Also Thursday morning, the defense called a DNA expert with the state crime lab to the stand. Raman Sandhu-Kirmer testified Chan's DNA was found on the gun used to kill Martin. But Sandhu-Kirmer couldn't rule out if another person's DNA on the gun belonged to Martin.

The defense also called Chan's second cousin to the stand. Nicole Jaynes testified she met Chan, Martin and a few others at Dublin's Pub the night of the shooting.

She said Chan and Martin were drinking vodka red bulls and had a disagreement about something at work. She said the disagreement eventually escalated, and at one point a manager told Chan and Martin to lower their voices or they'd have to leave.

Jaynes said she drove the two deputies back to their hotel because they were drunk, and on the way they were no longer arguing.

“When they got out of the vehicle Jeremy had to help Tai out of my truck because it's an extended cab and the doors are kind of complicated and they couldn't find the door handle to get out of the vehicle,” she said. “But after they got out of the vehicle and closed the doors they had their arms around each other's shoulders walking into the hotel.”

The defense also called an alcohol expert to testify. Based on bar receipts, Dr. Cecil Marczinski estimated Chan's blood alcohol content was about .24, or three times the legal limit.

Testimony resumes Friday.

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Kai Porter

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

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