- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A former Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy who is accused of fatally shooting his partner following an alcohol-fueled fight in Las Cruces is set to stand trial this week on a first-degree murder charge.

Tai Chan, an ex-warrant officer with Santa Fe County, is charged with killing Santa Fe County Deputy Jeremy Martin in October 2014 at a Las Cruces hotel where the two stopped to stay the night after dropping off a prisoner in Safford, Arizona. They had gone to three restaurants, with their last stop being Dublin’s Street Pub, where the two had been drinking before a heated argument ensued.

When they returned just after midnight to Hotel Encanto, where they were staying, the argument continued between the two, and shots were fired, authorities said.

An autopsy showed Martin, 29, was shot in the back and had other injuries that appeared related to a fight. Authorities said Chan shot several rounds.

Now 29, Chan has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder - a charge his lawyer moved to have dismissed last week just before the start of the trial.

Scores of interviews and a review of documents and evidence by the defense did not turn up any indication that the shooting was deliberate or premeditated, said John Day, Chan’s attorney. But a judge denied Day’s motion to dismiss the first-degree murder charge, giving way to the trial expected to begin Monday with jury selection.

Prosecutors have listed more than 90 witnesses, including Martin’s widow. It’s not clear if they will call all of them to the stand, with the trial potentially lasting several weeks.

Authorities have said Chan shot several rounds at Martin. In court documents filed Tuesday, the Dona Ana County District Attorney’s Office said it plans to argue that Chan opened fire in a hotel room and then continued to pursue Martin as he tried to flee down a hallway and toward an elevator.

Martin - who police say was found wounded and staggering off the elevator when officers responded to the scene - was unarmed, prosecutors said. He was taken to a Las Cruces hospital, where he was pronounced dead, while Chan was found in a stairwell near the hotel’s roof, authorities said.

He was taken into custody without incident. A Glock semi-automatic handgun, believed to be his duty weapon, was found nearby, authorities said.

Chan’s attorney said he fired in self-defense.

Jury selection is set to begin Monday.



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