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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Watchdog group cites interference at polls in Latino areas

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A voting rights group says that caravans of flag-waving President Donald Trump supporters appeared to obstruct and intimidate voters at two polling location in predominantly ethnic-minority neighborhoods last weekend in the Albuquerque area. Common Cause New Mexico Director Heather Ferguson said Wednesday that the incidents took place on the first day of balloting at voter convenience centers in the South Valley area and the western reaches of Central Avenue. The areas are heavily Latino. She estimates that dozens of potential voters in each location left without voting as a result of the incidents. Local prosecutors say they are investigating.

  • Watchdogs push New Mexico to limit US nuclear waste dump

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State environmental regulators are reviewing an application from the federal government to renew its permit to operate the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico. It will be next year before a final decision made, but watchdog groups raised concerns with state lawmakers during a meeting Wednesday. They say the U.S. Energy Department wants to make operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant open-ended, removing any reference in the permit to 2024 as the date when closure and decommissioning were supposed to start. They say allowing the change will mark another step toward solidifying New Mexico as the nation's dumping ground for nuclear waste.

  • New Mexico reports single-day record 827 new COVID-19 cases

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials in New Mexico on Wednesday reported a single-day record of 827 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths. The latest numbers increase the total cases to 38,715 statewide since the pandemic started, with 950 known deaths. Of the new cases, New Mexico Department of Health officials said 292 of them were in Bernalillo County and 172 more in Dona Ana County. New Mexico had set a single-day record with 819 confirmed COVID-19 cases last Friday with 557 more cases Saturday, 518 Sunday, another 518 cases Monday and 599 Tuesday.

  • Virus spikes have officials looking to shore up hospitals

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Hospitals around the United States are starting to buckle from a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, with several states setting records for the number of people hospitalized and leaders scrambling to find extra beds and staff. New highs in cases have been reported in states big and small — from Idaho to Ohio — in recent days. With persistent resistance to statewide mask mandates, some states are relying on individuals to do the right thing to stem the tide of the virus. Other states are worried about the spike putting pressures on the health system and are making plans for ensuring those infected get the hospital care they need. 

  • Renewable energy giant to buy New Mexico's largest utility

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The parent company of New Mexico's largest electric utility will become part of energy giant Iberdrola's global holdings under a multibillion-dollar merger. Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Iberdrola's majority-owned U.S. subsidiary Avangrid will acquire PNM Resources. Officials say the transaction is part of Iberdrola's strategy for investing in regions where regulations related to renewable energy are stable and offer opportunities for growth. New Mexico in 2019 adopted ambitious mandates to become carbon-free by 2045, and Public Service Co. of New Mexico has vowed to meet that standard by 2040 through the addition of more solar generation and battery storage. The deal will have to be approved by regulators.

  • Border Patrol agent impersonator in New Mexico gets prison

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A man in New Mexico has been sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison for impersonating a Border Patrol agent. Prosecutors say 45-year-old James Christopher Benvie received a 21-month prison term after being convicted in the case in March. Court records show Benvie was a leader and spokesperson for a group of vigilantes who camped at the border in Dona Ana County. Authorities say many members of the group wore badges, camouflage and other military-style clothing, often covered their faces with masks, and carried pistols and assault rifles. They say Benvie misrepresented himself as a Border Patrol agent in April 2019 when stopping and interrogating immigrants he suspected of crossing into the country illegally.  

  • New Mexico Supreme Court seeks members for equity commission

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court is looking for people to serve on a newly created commission on equity and justice. An order issued Monday formally established the commission and outlined the framework for its membership. The panel will study issues related to bias and inequities in the state justice system and promote diversity among judges and judicial employees. In addition to state and local judges, voting members will include representatives from the University of New Mexico law school, attorneys, community advocates and one state lawmaker. Representatives from more than two dozen legal organizations also will be invited to participate on the commission. 

  • New Mexico court upholds former officer's murder conviction

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a former Silver City police officer in the killing of his estranged wife amid a contentious divorce and child-custody case. The court's ruling Monday said the trial court properly allowed admission of hearsay statements from victim Cassy Farrington concerning Bradley Scott Farrington because there was evidence that he killed her to make her unavailable as a witness. The ruling cited Bradley Farrington's extensive history of domestic violence, his exploitation of his status as a police officer, and the couple's acrimonious divorce and custody proceedings. The victim, a 23-year-old mother of two, was found dead in her Silver City home in 2014.