Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT
Court sets hearing on Trump administration's asylum policySAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court scheduled a hearing next week over whether to stop the Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for immigration court hearings.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday set a hearing for April 24 in San Francisco over whether a lower court ruling to block the policy should go into effect while the case proceeds.
U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled April 8 that the policy should be halted because it failed to evaluate dangers migrants face in Mexico.
The government appealed the case before the ruling took effect and the 9th Circuit issued a temporary stay last week to consider arguments from the government and immigrant advocates.
The government says Seeborg's ruling is erroneous and would endanger the public.
- INMATE-SEX ABUSE
Lawsuit: Corrections officers sexually abused inmateALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An inmate has sued the New Mexico Corrections Department, saying two officers sexually abused her in 2017.
The American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the inmate that the assaults occurred in a prison system and facility that have fostered "an environment rife with sexual abuse."
The lawsuit filed Tuesday also says that authorities retaliated against the inmate when she reported the abuse by revoking her phone privileges, placing her in solitary confinement and taking away a year of "good time."
The former officers accused in the lawsuit are Michael Martinez and Eluid Stan Arguello. They were charged with criminal sexual penetration.
Martinez pleaded guilty last year. A jury trial for Arguello is scheduled for July.
State officials did not immediately provide comment in response to the lawsuit Wednesday.
- NUCLEAR WEAPONS-PLUTONIUM
Study: US plutonium plan comes with budget, scheduling risksALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Consultants are warning that every option considered by the U.S. government to ramp up production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear warheads will have cost and scheduling risks.
The findings are part of a study done by the Institute of Defense Analyses that was delivered to Congress on Tuesday. The report was not made public, but officials acknowledged that it recognized the challenges of restarting production.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has proposed splitting the work between Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savanna River Site in South Carolina.
According to the assessment, if enough time and resources are focused on the effort, the plan would be "potentially achievable."
Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics are concerned given a history of safety lapses and unchecked spending within the nation's nuclear complex.
- CLEAN POWER-NEW MEXICO
New Mexico seeks energy savings in state building upgradesSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is pushing forward with energy-saving upgrades to its portfolio of agency buildings in the state capital.
The General Services Department that oversees more than 800 buildings across the state announced Tuesday that it plans to invest $32 million on projects to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings in Santa Fe and generate renewable electricity with photovoltaic solar panels. Solar installations are planned on 19 buildings.
The Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have dedicated $20 million to the initiative. Permission is being sought from the New Mexico Finance Authority to borrow an additional $12 million.
The contractor hired to implement the project is guaranteeing energy-related savings of $1.1 million a year, and actual savings should be higher.
- DEFENSE LAWYER-DWI
High-profile defense lawyer in New Mexico faces DWI chargeALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A high-profile defense lawyer who also served as a former prosecutor for U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico has been arrested on a drunken driving charge.
Court records show Robert Gorence was arrested late Saturday in Albuquerque after an officer spotted his vehicle swerving and going below the speed limit on Interstate 25.
Officer Keith Curry wrote the 61-year-old Gorence had bloodshot and watery eyes and had an odor of alcohol coming from his breath. Curry says Gorence then performed badly on a field sobriety test.
Police also reported finding a partially empty bottle of Jim Beam under the driver's seat of Gorence's BMW.
Gorence was charged with DWI and possession of an open container. He was later released on his own recognizance.
Gorence did not immediately return phone messages.
- COLORADO RIVER-DROUGHT PLAN-THE LATEST
The Latest: Water agency disappointed with legal challengeFLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A powerful California water agency says it's disappointed an irrigation district is suing to block a multi-state plan to preserve Colorado River water.
The Imperial Irrigation District alleges the Metropolitan Water District violated an environmental law in pledging to contribute California's share of water under the drought contingency plan. Imperial is asking the Los Angeles County Superior Court to force Metropolitan into compliance.
Metropolitan general manager Jeff Kightlinger said Wednesday that water agencies in the seven Western states that rely on the river need to work together, not sue.
He says the drought plan will have no impact on a massive, briny lake southeast of Los Angeles. The lack of funding to address environmental concerns over the Salton Sea kept Imperial from joining the drought plan.
- APARTMENT COMPLEX FIRE-ALBUQUERQUE
Body of 10-year-old boy found after apartment complex fireALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque authorities say a child found dead after a fire in an Albuquerque apartment complex was put out was a 10-year-old boy whose two siblings ages 2 and 13 were hospitalized in critical condition for smoke inhalation.
Police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says discovery of the boy's body accounted for all 31 residents, some of whom jumped from balconies and windows to escape the flames early Tuesday morning.
No identities were released.
Police and firefighters went to the complex in response to a call about a fire and that the call included a female voice saying, "Please don't hurt me."
Lt. Tom Ruiz, of Albuquerque Fire Rescue, says officials don't know who made the statement or anything about its origin.
Cause of the fire is under investigation.
This story replaces a previous version to correct the title for Gallegos.
- FIRE CHIEF-SEX ASSAULT
Former Tucumcari fire chief pleads no contest to 5 charges(Information from: The Eastern New Mexico News, http://www.easternnewmexiconews.com)
TUCUMCARI, N.M. (AP) — A former fire chief in eastern New Mexico accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a city employee has been convicted of five criminal counts.
The Eastern New Mexico News reports 42-year-old Shane Warner pleaded no contest Tuesday to charges that included assault with intent to commit a violent felony, attempt to commit extortion, felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor embezzlement.
Prosecutors say the former Tucumcari fire chief drugged and sexually assaulted a female ambulance worker in March 2016.
Prosecutors are expected to recommend a suspended sentence and five years of supervised probation.
A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled for Warner.
Warner was hired as fire chief in January 2015. The city fired him in March 2017.