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Las Cruces judge dismisses case against ex-deputy in state’s longest-running murder prosecution

KVIA file
Former deputy Tai Chan testifies on the stand in one of his murder trials.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — A judge on Wednesday dismissed all charges in the case of a former sheriff’s deputy who was charged in the shooting death of a fellow deputy in Las Cruces during what authorities described as an alcohol-fueled dispute.

Judge Conrad Perea's decision to dismiss the case against Tai Chan brings an end to the longest-running murder prosecution in New Mexico history.

"The judge today ruled that the six-year prosecution of Chan violated Chan's speedy trial rights, both under the New Mexico and U.S. constitutions," said defense attorney John Day.

There have been at least six different attempts to prosecute Chan over the years, with two jury trials that ended in mistrials.

Chan was charged with first-degree murder in the October 2014 death of Jeremy Martin. The two Santa Fe County deputies had stopped in Las Cruces for the night after transporting an inmate and had been drinking before the shooting.

Day indicated he was pleased with the judge's decision to finally drop the case.

"We are appreciative of Judge Perea's insight this case. It takes a lot of courage to do the right thing," Day said.

Day said the judge found District Attorney Mark D'Antonio "committed multiple acts of prosecutorial misconduct" and added that the DA's office was being fined.

A spokesperson for D'Antonio called the judge's ruling both unexpected and disappointing, confirming that the Chan case would no longer be pursued.

D'Antonio's office did not address the misconduct claims, saying the judge indicated it would take about a week before his final order on the case is filed.

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