Residents weary of 3rd trial for former Santa Fe Sheriff's Office deputy accused of murder

Tai Chan in courtroom for retrial on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)

Taxpayers in Dona Ana County will be paying for a third trial involving two Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office deputies, including one accused of deliberately killing his partner at a hotel in Las Cruces.

So far, former Deputy Tai Chan has been tried twice, with both trials ending in a mistrial.

Now, the district attorney is moving forward with a third trial and people in Dona Ana County have mixed feelings about it.

Dona Ana County District Attorney Mark D’ Antonio said his office is reviewing Tai Chan's case, but not everyone agrees with his decision.

“We’re expected to go forward with this case, and I think it’s the right decision and I have no regrets,” D’Antonio said.

Fran Rooker, who lives in the county, said trying the case for a third time would cost taxpayers more money.

“Given the circumstances that we have now, no, I don’t think we should do it. We have other things to spend money on in the criminal justice (system) rather than trying to prove someone guilty when we haven’t been able to do it yet,” Rooker said.

He adds that he doesn’t believe a jury can be persuaded that Tai Chan deliberately shot Jeremy Martin since the prosecution has already failed twice.

“I don’t know. I think it’s kinda silly that we spent a lot of money already and haven proven him guilty. (At) least the jury didn’t think so. I think they did but I’m not the jury,” Rooker said.

KFOX14 requested the cost of both trials from the district attorney’s office and the 3rd Judicial District Court.

For both trials, the district attorneys office spent around $38,727 for certain expenses such as expert witnesses, consultants and transportation services.

The 3rd Judicial District Court spent a total of of $62,000 for both trials, but the cost for witnesses for the second trial is still unknown.

The cost for witnesses for the first trial was around $22,000.

While some people are wary of spending more money on the case, Johnny Tabor believes a third trial is necessary.

“I would say 'for it,' especially considering the circumstances around the case. Maybe they need to move it. Maybe they need to go somewhere else and try the case,” Tabor said.

The third trial date for Tai Chan is set for April 9, 2018.

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