New Mexico

TAI CHAN TRIAL: Prosecution's co-counsel quits, DNA expert testifies

Prosecution rests case in Tai Chan Trial

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Rusty Prindle, co-counsel for the prosecution in the Tai Chan murder retrial, quit the District Attorney's office Thursday morning.

Chan, a former Santa Fe County Sheriff's Deputy, is accused of shooting and killing fellow deputy Jeremy Martin inside the Hotel Encanto in 2014. The two men were spending the night in Las Cruces after transporting a prisoner to Arizona.

Prindle has questioned several of the state's witnesses during the trial.

District Attorney Mark D'Antonio confirmed Prindle resigned due to a "personal issue." D'Antonio said the resignation will not affect the state's case against Chan.

Also Thursday, DNA expert Raman Sandhu-Kirmer testified in court. She said Chan's DNA samples found on the gun, bed sheet, comforter and pillow cases matched Chan's DNA.

"To a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, Tai Chan was the source of the major DNA profile that was obtained from this mixture," Sandhu-Kirmer said, adding "Jeremy Martin could not be eliminated  as a possible contributor to this DNA mixture."

Alcohol expert Cecile Marczinski later testified Chan's blood alcohol content was .24 based on how many drinks were consumed. In New Mexico, it is illegal for someone who is 21 years old or older to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher.

When asked by the defense if an individual with a .24 blood alcohol content would be able to formulate a deliberate intent to commit an act, Marcinski said, "I think they are not able to form a deliberate intent."

Jurors later heard from Nicole Jaynes, Chan's cousin.  She was invited by Chan to go to Dublin's Bar the night of the shooting. Jaynes testified both Chan and Martin were drinking and had a disagreement about their jobs.

Jaynes said Martin became intoxicated and left the bar for 30 minutes. When Martin returned, the argument escalated, Jaynes said. A manager intervened and asked them to calm down or leave.

Jaynes said Chan and Martin were both drinking and appeared to be intoxicated. Jaynes drove the men back to the hotel.

She said they had a good conversation on the way to the hotel with no arguing. When they arrived at the hotel around midnight, Martin helped Chan out of the vehicle, Jaynes said, adding both men walked into the hotel holding onto each other.

"When they got out of the vehicle, Jeremy had to help Tai out of my truck because it's an extended cab so the doors are kind of complicated and they each could not find the door handle to get out of the vehicle," Jaynes said, "But after they got out of the vehicle and closed the doors, they had their arms around each other's shoulders walking into the hotel."

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