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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT

  • HOMICIDE-FORMER OFFICE

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — A former Alamogordo police officer has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a 2019 wreck in Roswell in which one person was killed and two others injured. Luke Maxwell Towner faces a Dec. 14 hearing after pleading guilty Thursday in state District Court to homicide by vehicle, aggravated DWI and great bodily harm. The Roswell Daily Record reports that Judge James Hudson said a plea agreement recommends a 15-year sentence, including 12 years in prison and three years suspended and served on supervised probation. Court documents indicate Towner was driving at 70 mph when his pickup rear-ended a vehicle at a traffic light. 

  • FEDERAL GRANT-FIREARMS CASES

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government is providing a $278,000 grant to a New Mexico district attorney's office to hire a local prosecutor to try firearms cases in federal court. The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico announced Friday that the grant was awarded to the office of District Attorney Lemuel L. Martinez of the 13th Judicial District. The district includes Cibola, Sandoval and Valencia counties. The U.S. Attorney's Office said the grant supports efforts to reduce violence as part of initiatives across the country. Martinez said state prosecutors face significant challenges in going after dangerous offenders and he said the grant provides an incentive for state and local law enforcement to work with federal authorities.

  • TRIBES-INTERNET-ACCESS

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission has granted broadcast licenses to dozens of rural tribal governments. The commission said Friday an initial 154 licenses of 2.5 gigahertz were awarded to Native American communities. That includes about 20 in New Mexico and Arizona. The spectrum had long been reserved for educational institutions. Tribes fought to be first in line for a new batch of licenses for the wireless technology that is ideal for sending high-speed internet wirelessly. Around 400 tribes applied for the permits as internet access becomes crucial for health and education during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • STATE INVESTMENT LAWSUIT-CHALLENGE

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected a settlement challenge in a lawsuit over an alleged "pay-to-play" scheme dating back to the administration of Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that former state Educational Retirement Board Investment Chief Frank Foy filed the lawsuit in 2008, claiming the state lost about $90 million in bad investment deals. Neither Richardson nor any member of his administration was charged with a crime. Foy's attorney Victor Marshall opposed the settlement agreement, appealed the lower court ruling and then challenged the denied appeal. Foy can now appeal the case the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall said he was not able to comment.

  • AP-US-TRUMP-IMMIGRATION

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A top adviser to President Donald Trump says a key second-term priority on immigration, if the president is reelected, would be using agreements with Central American governments as models to get countries around the world to field asylum claims from people seeking refuge in the United States. Stephen Miller, a key architect of Trump's immigration policies, tells The Associated Press that the agreements would help stop "asylum fraud, asylum shopping and asylum abuse on a global scale." Like many of Trump's policies that have dramatically transformed the U.S. immigration system, the bilateral agreements are being challenged in court. 

  • ELECTION 2020-ENERGY POLICY

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Joe Biden has said the quiet part out loud on climate change. The Democratic presidential candidate spelled out for voters in Thursday's final debate that staving off the worst of global warming will require a "transition away" from the oil and gas industry over time. It's the same thing Biden has said in written climate plans. But the GOP has moved quickly to use Biden's statement against Democrats in down-ticket races. While polls show Americans are concerned about climate change, it's not clear if Biden's explicitness on the causes — oil, gas and coal — will hurt him Nov. 3. 

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One of the oldest Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States will again be foregoing Sunday Mass indefinitely as New Mexico marks its latest surge of COVID-19 cases. Archbishop John C. Wester is directing churches within the northern New Mexico diocese to cease regular Mass schedules after Sunday until further notice. He's encouraging Masses to be streamed via the internet or recorded so that they may be accessed by people at home. The guidance comes as state officials have been pushing people to stay home and adhere to the state's public health order. New Mexico on Friday reported an additional 797 cases and seven deaths related to the virus.

  • DRY NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — More national forests are imposing fire restrictions as New Mexico waits for some much needed rain. The Cibola National Forest is implementing the first stage of restrictions Friday on the Mount Taylor, Magdalena, Mountainair and Sandia ranger districts. That means no campfires or fireworks and smoking is limited to developed recreation sites, barren areas or inside vehicles or buildings. The Carson and Santa Fe national forests also are enacting restrictions. Officials say the risk of unseasonal wildfires across northern New Mexico is widespread. The Gila forest in southern New Mexico also warned of high to very high fire danger.