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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MDT


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state health officials say the state has 214 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 21,340. The state Department of Health said Tuesday that three more people have died from the novel coronavirus. Officials say 658 have died from COVID-19 in the state. As of Tuesday, there are 133 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. There are 8,685 virus cases designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the governor's authority to fine businesses as much as $5,000 a day for violations of emergency health orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. The court heard arguments from businesses claiming the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham overstepped its authority in response to the pandemic. The ruling was unanimous in the governor's favor. Chief Justice Michael Vigil says the Legislature clearly gave the governor authority to apply administrative fines higher than the $100 citations the businesses claimed was the maximum allowed. The state has fined 16 businesses up to $5,000 a day.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man who is serving a life sentence for kidnapping and killing an 11-year-old girl in 2016 had his appeal dismissed after he failed to file his court motion in time. Tom Begaye Jr. was sentenced in 2017 to life in prison with no possibility of parole after pleading guilty to murder, kidnapping and aggravated sexual abuse. The Farmington Daily Times reports that Begaye requested a reduced prison sentence and a hearing to try to plead guilty to lesser offenses. A judge ruled Begaye's claims were invalid because he made the requests too late.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Two U.S. House hopefuls in a crucial southern New Mexico race are distancing themselves from a Cowboys for Trump leader who said some Black athletes should "go back to Africa." Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small said late Saturday remarks by Couy Griffin were "another example of dangerous rhetoric" coming from someone who also is an Otero County commissioner. Torres Small says his "comments should be condemned by all." Republican former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell also says she disagrees with Griffin's comments. Griffin told The Associated Press he used a poor choice of words in the video.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A Republican seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in a crucial New Mexico House seat has picked up an endorsement from a former Democratic congressman. Former U.S. Rep. Harry Teague once held Torres Small's seat and said Tuesday he is backing Yvette Herrell in November. Teague says Herrell appreciates the impact the energy industry has on the state and will reach across party lines. Teague held the southern New Mexico seat from 2009 until 2011 and was the first Democrat to win the seat in nearly 30 years. He lost after voting for a bill aimed at curbing greenhouse gasses. 


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democrat U.S. hopeful Ben Ray Luján has released a television ad touting his support for expanding Medicaid while pointing to his father's fight with cancer. The commercial scheduled to begin airing statewide on Tuesday highlights Luján's father, Ben Luján, the late Speaker of the New Mexico House, and his access to insurance. But the younger Luján says the lack of affordable health care forces some New Mexico residents to make tough decisions to pay bills. Republican Mark Ronchetti says Luján supports a government takeover of health care that would outlaw employer-based insurance plans and limit doctor choice. Luján and Ronchetti are seeking an open U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico. 


DEMING, N.M. (AP) — Police in southern New Mexico say they believe an 83-year-old fatally shot his wife before killing himself. The Deming Headlight reports Gerard McDonough was found dead early Thursday after he reportedly called 911 to say he shot his wife, Diane McDonough. Officers arrived at their Deming home and found Gerard and the 69-year-old Diane dead. Police say they found two handguns. The death of Diane was ruled a homicide and the death of Gerard was suicide.


ABIQUIÚ, N.M. (AP) — A newly passed U.S. House bill may allow Abiquiú Lake to store a greater volume of water from a wider range of sources. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a provision in a water resources development bill would increase the northern New Mexico reservoir's storage capacity by 30,000 acre-feet. That would raise the lake's permissible water level by roughly 10 feet (3 meters). The reservoir now is permitted to store only what's known as San Juan-Chama water, which originates in the Colorado River. That water is diverted through tunnels across the Continental Divide and then carried along the Chama River.