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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT


Nakotah LaRance, a champion hoop dancer who traveled the world performing with Cirque du Soleil, has died at age 30. LaRance was Tewa, Hopi, Navajo and Assiniboine. His father, Steve LaRance, says he died Sunday after falling from a bridge in New Mexico's Rio Arriba County. Native American hoop dancing involves doing intricate footwork while twirling and throwing hoops in the air and manipulating them into shapes such as wings or spheres. LaRance began competing in the Heard Museum's annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest in Phoenix as a youth and earned the title of World Champion there three times. He traveled the world performing with Cirque du Soleil for more than three years and then returned to northern New Mexico, where he created a youth hoop dance group. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials are reporting an additional 227 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to more than 15,500 since the coronavirus outbreak began. The latest figures released Tuesday show Bernalillo County, which includes the state's most populous metro area, added another 65 confirmed cases. Health officials also reported three additional deaths, bringing that total to 551. Those deaths include a McKinley County man and San Juan County woman, both in the their 30s, who had underlying conditions. New Mexico has been added to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut's quarantine list because it's among states with growing infection rates.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is going to have to dig out of a deep financial hole as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as gross receipts continue to crater and one in five workers has been forced to seek jobless benefits. The chairman of the Legislature's top budget committee is urging caution as lawmakers plan to gather later this week to talk about shuttered businesses, the pace of economic recovery and federal relief funds. Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming says restraint should be the theme for state spending given the uncertainty related to the virus and the volatility of the oil and gas industry. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico judge has postponed a murder trial after learning a defense attorney was in contact with people who contracted COVID-19. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported District Judge Maria Sanchez-Gagne called a mistrial after learning of the contact. Defense attorney Sheri Raphaelson says she was in contact with patients while working as a midwife. Mark Hice was charged with first-degree murder in connection with an October 2018 shooting that killed 18-year-old Cameron Martinez and wounded three others. Hice's trial was to be the first case in the state's First Judicial District since the start of the pandemic.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court has ruled that New Mexico's open records law doesn't create a blanket exception for shielding law enforcement records related to an ongoing criminal investigation. The court made the determination in a unanimous decision Tuesday. It says lawmakers were concerned only with specific content such as the identity of confidential sources and that the law requires records custodians to separate nonexempt law enforcement information and make it available for public inspection. The case stemmed from a records request filed by the brother of James Boyd, who was shot and killed by Albuquerque police in 2014.


ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Holloman Air Force base officials say the pilot of an F-16C jet fighter sucessfully ejected and suffered only injuries when the single-engine aircraft crashed while landing at the base in southern New Mexico. Officials said a board of officers will investigate the crash that ocurred Monday evening. The pilot's identity was not released and the statement provided no additional details about the circusmtances of the crash.


NAMBÉ, N.M. (AP) — Democrat Ben Ray Luján has released his first television campaign ad in his bid for the U.S. Senate. The ad scheduled to begin airing Tuesday highlights Luján's role as an "11th generation New Mexican" and his desire to represent rural values. The U.S. congressman doesn't mention his GOP opponent Mark Ronchetti nor President Donald Trump. Luján says his campaign will try to reach the state's 33 counties through a virtual road trip. The Santa Fe Democrat and former television weatherman Ronchetti are seeking to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring.


LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory say sunlight-absorbing particles in wildfire smoke may contribute less to warming temperatures than previously thought. They said in a recent paper that as the plume mixes with clean air, its absorbing power and warming effects are reduced. The researchers studied the properties of smoke from a large blaze in Arizona last summer. The chemical, physical and optical properties of ambient aerosol and trace gas concentrations in four large plumes were measured in real time. The team observed intact and more-disperse plumes that aged more than half a day while traveling 300 miles across New Mexico.