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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT


CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman was allowed to leave jail to attend her son's funeral but never returned has been sentenced. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Angela Sotelo pleaded no contest this month to an attempting to escape charge. According to a criminal complaint, a state judge allowed Sotelo to attend the funeral of her son in August 2019 on a furlough. But Sotelo never returned at her assigned time. Police eventually found Sotelo on Dec. 5 and charged her with escaping from jail, failure to appear and failure to comply. She was sentenced to three years in prison.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say the state has 324 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state to 18,788. State data released Saturday by the state Department of Health also showed six new deaths from the novel coronavirus. The number of deaths in New Mexico related to COVID-19 now stands at 607. Bernalillo County led all counties in new cases with 93. Dona Ana County reported 64 new cases. There are 148 people hospitalized with the virus, 32 of them on ventilators, and 7,268 designated as having recovered,


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico sheriff, whose office is plagued by racial profiling lawsuits, said deputies will be outfitted with new superhero-style restraining devices but not body cameras. The Albuquerque Journal reports the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office is giving 20 deputies a BolaWrap. That's a handheld device that shoots a Kevlar wire, which wraps around a fleeing suspect several times and restricts movement. Each device costs about $1,000. The move comes as Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales said he can't afford to purchase body cameras for his deputies as now required by state law. Gonzales said he is looking to allow deputies to put smartphones in their vests and record video.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The nation's oldest Latino civil rights organization says it strongly supports Ethnic Studies programs in colleges and won't participate in the "glorification of historical figures" like Spanish conquistadors. The League of United Latin American Citizens said Friday it endorses the growth and establishment of college programs that focus on Latino and Native American voices. The statement came after New Mexico LULAC Executive Director Ralph Arellanes wrote that the state's largest university should dismantle programs and censor classes that mention Spanish conquistadors committed genocide against Indigenous populations. Arellanes denied that he was talking about Chicano Studies or Native American Studies but scholars around the country said he was.


MONTEZUMA, N.M. (AP) — Federal immigration officials have rescinded a directive that would have kept international students from attending colleges in the United States, but it's not going to help the United World College. Most of the students who attend the northern New Mexico school still are shut out from entering the U.S. because of travel bans and their inability to obtain F-1 visas due to the closure of consulates worldwide. School officials say about three-quarters of the 220 teenage students are from foreign lands. Students can participate in online courses, but officials say those in many countries don't always have easy access to the internet.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Forester Laura McCarthy says summer rains are starting to put a dent in the fire danger so she's decided to lift fire restrictions. The restrictions had been put in place in May for all non-municipal, non-federal and non-tribal lands. McCarthy on Friday urged people to still be careful, saying there's always a chance a wildfire can start. She pointed to northern and eastern parts of New Mexico where drought conditions have been the most severe. The Forestry Division will continue monitoring conditions statewide and could reimpose restrictions if the fire danger worsens.


HOLBROOK, Ariz. (AP) — County health officials in northeastern Arizona said a man has contracted the human plague and are warning the public to take precautions to limit the risk of exposure. Navajo County Assistant Manager Bryan Layton said Friday that a man over the age of 55 was being treated for the disease amid an investigation into how it was contracted. Humans typically get plague after being bitten by an infected flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. The Navajo County Health Department encouraged people to avoid rodent burrows and keep dogs on a leash.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A defense spending bill pending in Congress includes an apology to New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and other states affected by nuclear testing over the decades. But communities downwind from the first atomic test in 1945 are still holding out for compensation amid rumblings about the potential for the U.S. to resume nuclear testing. While the U.S. House has adopted language prohibiting spending on such an effort, a group of senators has included $10 million for testing preparation. Details of the spending bill have yet to be hashed out, but the Union of Concerned Scientists, nuclear watchdogs and environmentalists are pushing for the funding to be eliminated.