LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – The Santa Fe Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a fellow deputy almost six years ago is a free man. Wednesday, the judge dropped all charges against Tai Chan. After a long legal battle that included two mistrials, the chapter on this controversial case is finally closed.
“This is the longest-running murder case in New Mexico, up until today,” Chan’s attorney, John Day said. “It is time to move on.”
Las Cruces District Court Judge Conrad Perea dismissed the case against Chan. Chan shot fellow deputy Jeremy Martin in the back as he fled during an argument at a Las Cruces hotel in 2014.
The two stopped there after a night of drinking on a trip to transport a prisoner to Arizona. Chan who was originally charged with murder was tried twice, both ending in a hung jury. Chan always claimed it was self-defense. “We filed multiple motions to dismiss,” Day said.
Day said the judge dismissed a voluntary manslaughter charge, citing a violation of Chan’s right to a speedy trial and fined the District Attorney around $1,400 after finding prosecutorial misconduct. “In the second trial, the previous judge had found that there may have been tampering with evidence on the part of the prosecution in that case,” Day said. “He ordered the DA’s Office to provide an explanation, and they never did that.”
Day said the judge dismissed the charge with prejudice, meaning the DA cannot refile. According to Day, the DA’s Office is not appealing. “I think it is sadness, grief, anger, and denial,” Jeremy’s brother, James, said. “The case dismissal is not a not guilty.”
James said he is glad the DA’s Office is not pursuing the case further. “They clearly could not get the conviction the first few times, so I don’t see how another round in court would change that outcome,” James said. “We are relieved it is over, but we are disappointed. We really feel like the DA mishandled the case from the beginning. There has been a lot of missteps. We are very frustrated that we did not get the justice and we are disappointed with the outcome.”
Without going into detail, the family said it may look into civil options moving forward. KRQE News 13 reached out to the DA’s Office but we did not hear back.
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