LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The lead investigator in the murder of Santa Fe County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Martin was the first witness to testify in the Tai Chan murder trial Tuesday morning.
Chan, a former Santa Fe County Sheriff's Deputy, is accused of shooting and killing Martin inside a hotel room at the Hotel Encanto. The deputies were spending the night in Las Cruces after dropping off a prisoner in Arizona.
Palos recently filed a lawsuit against the Las Cruces Police Department, stating she was denied resources in the case. She alleges it was retaliation after she reported "criminal sexual behavior" of a fellow detective and "other illegal and sexually oriented misconduct"
The lawsuit was not brought up during testimony, but when asked by Defense Attorney Monnica Garcia, Palos admitted she was denied an "officer involved shooting team" by her supervisors, along with other resources shortly after the killing of Martin.
Palos also told the jury all the blood in the hotel room belonged to Chan. Yet it didn't get tested until 20 months later, after Chan had already been charged with first degree murder.
During Chan's first trial, it was revealed that police had not submitted a blood-soaked sheet from the hotel room for DNA testing.
That revelation caused confusion in the courtroom, as prosecutors and defense attorneys believed the sheet had been tested for DNA prior to trial. It prompted police to pull the sheet from the evidence storage so it could be displayed in court before it was sent to a forensic laboratory in Santa Fe for testing.
Chan's first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Palos also agreed with the defense that Chan had made statements after the shooting that he acted in self defense. Yet, Palos said she didn't tell a grand jury about any of those statements, only that Chan said "I shot the guy."
When asked why, Palos said the "Grand jury received information I had at that time". She said she did not know of any claims of self defense when testifying during grand jury. It wasn't until after grand jury, she learned of those claims.
The jury also saw the injuries Martin received the night he was shot and killed.
The judge warned everyone in the courtroom that what they were about to see was graphic. He also said it'd be best to sit in the back of the room, if someone was having a hard time containing their emotions.
Dr. Nika Aljinovic pointed out the gun shot wounds on Jeremy Martin's body as Martin's family stayed composed sitting in the front row. Chan also looked seriously straight ahead. Aljinovic said there were multiple gun shot wounds to Martin's back and the back of his arm. There were also images of Martin's bloodied hand with a black powdery substance. But Aljinovic could not say if that was gun shot residue.
"So doctor, do you have an opinion as an expert on the method manner and cause of death of Jeremy Martin?" Deputy District Attorney Gerald Byers asked.
"His cause of death was gun shot wound and manner of death was homicide," Dr. Nika Aljinovic responded.