- Associated Press - Monday, May 8, 2017

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A jury was selected Monday in the retrial of a former Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of a fellow deputy that authorities have said stemmed from an alcohol-fueled argument.

Of the nearly 100 potential jurors summoned to state district court in Las Cruces, 15 were chosen including three alternates in a process that took nearly eight hours.

Jurors must decide if defendant Tai Chan acted in self-defense or carried out a calculated killing when he shot Jeremy Martin.

The shooting happened Oct. 28, 2014, at a hotel where the two men were staying overnight after transporting prisoners to Arizona.

Chan’s first trial ended last year in a mistrial when jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision.

Prosecutors have insisted that the case amounts to first-degree murder because Martin, 29, was shot in the back.

Responding officers found him wounded and staggering off an elevator. He was taken to a Las Cruces hospital, where he was pronounced dead, while Chan, then 27, was found in a stairwell near the hotel’s roof.

Chan’s lawyers contend he opened fire in self-defense because Martin was the aggressor in the argument leading to the shooting.

During the first trial, Chan testified that Martin had threatened to shoot him dead with Chan’s duty weapon.

Chan said he was struck in the face by Martin, who he claimed was still armed. A struggle for the gun followed, Chan said, during which a single round was discharged. While on the floor, Chan said he seized the gun and started firing.

Chan testified Martin fled from the room and he followed, shooting at Martin as his colleague ran down the hall toward the elevator.

Martin’s family has challenged Chan’s testimony, saying Martin was a loving husband and father and that the two deputies had known each other only briefly.

The integrity of the investigation was also called into question recently when the lead detective filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging she was denied resources to investigate the shooting.

Defense attorney John Day said he was planning to bring up those allegations during the retrial.

Judge Fernando Macias previously granted a motion that clears the way for jurors to view the crime scene, including the seventh-floor hotel room and associated hallways.

The trial is expected to take several days.


Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, https://www.lcsun-news.com

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