LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - A judge has declared a mistrial in the second trial for Tai Chan, the former Santa Fe County Sheriff's Deputy accused of killing his partner.
Chan testified Friday he shot Jeremy Martin in self defense during an argument. The two men were staying at the Hotel Encanto in 2014 after transporting a prisoner to Arizona.
Chan told jurors Martin became angry when he joked about a double homicide investigation in Santa Fe. Chan testified he told Chan, "You are responsible for those deaths. you killed those children."
Chan said he was scared for his life and that Martin pointed the gun at him first. Shots were fired after both men struggled for Martin's gun, Chan recalled. Witness testimony revealed the men had been drinking and arguing hours before the shooting.
The prosecution told jurors Chan shot Martin in the back several times.
"It's hard because there is a lot of evidence that cannot be brought before the jury. It is heartbreaking," Martin's wife said immediately after the mistrial was announced.
"The district attorney has spend hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting Chan and the results this were worse than the last time," Defense Attorney John Day said.
"The outcome today shows that reasonable people can differ. In the end, six of the jurors said he was not guilty," Day added.
A defense team member told ABC-7 not a single juror believed Chan was guilty of First Degree Murder. "The breakdown was 7-to-5 to acquit on Second Degree Murder and 11-to-1 to acquit on Voluntary Manslaughter," the defense attorney said.
Chan was facing a charge of First Degree Murder. The jury also had the option of convicting him of Second Degree Murder or Voluntary Manslaughter.
"This sends a strong message," Day said, "If the district attorney believes it is wise to continue wasting taxpayer money, then he is going to get similar results."
Jurors deliberated for less than four hours.
During closing arguments, the prosecution called Chan a heartless killer whose claims of self-defense amounted to lies.
The prosecution also showed photographs of Chan taken moments after his arrest. Chan claimed he "blacked out" after Martin beat him during the struggle for the gun.
"See any injuries to his body that indicate he was in a fight for his life? No. They're not there. They don't exist. His story is a lie," prosecutor Gerald Byers told jurors.
In 2016, a jury deliberated for more than 13 hours before the judge declared a mistrial. Only a single juror believed Chan was guilty of First Degree Murder. The others were split between Second Degree Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter.
Day said he was not surprised at the outcome Tuesday. "What does that tell us? These are people with very strong convictions, the people who believed Tai Chan was not guilty," Day said.