After six years, two mistrials and numerous delays, a judge has dismissed a charge of voluntary manslaughter against former Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy Tai Chan, who fatally shot a fellow deputy during a work trip to Las Cruces in 2014.
Third District Judge Conrad Perea dismissed the case at a Wednesday hearing, ruling Chan’s right to a speedy trial had been violated, said Chan’s attorney, John Day.
Chan was accused of shooting Deputy Jeremy Martin five times in the back during an alcohol-fueled fight just after midnight Oct. 28, 2014, at Hotel Encanto, where they were staying after a trip to Arizona to transport a prisoner.
Chan admitted in court he had shot 29-year-old Martin but argued Martin had been the aggressor. The two men had gotten into a work-related dispute during a night of drinking at a nearby bar, which escalated when they returned to their hotel room, according to reports of the incident and court testimony.
The defense argued Chan had taken the gun from Martin and shot him as he left the room.
“From the beginning, we had stated this was a self-defense case, and in New Mexico, the key issue for us is you are allowed to defend yourself against a violent attacker,” Day said in an interview Wednesday after the hearing.
Chan was facing one count of voluntary manslaughter in his third jury trial, scheduled to begin Oct. 2. It had been delayed several times after the court granted motions from both the 3rd District Attorney’s Office and Chan’s attorneys, court records show.