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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST


ALBUQUERQUE, NM. (AP) — A U.S. Air Force court-martial panel sentenced a 22-year-old Kirtland Air Force Base airman to five years in a military prison on convictions stemming from a 2019 crash in Albuquerque that killed a pedestrian. Airman 1st Class Calvin Cooper was sentenced Wednesday after being convicted Tuesday of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and reckless driving in the death of Angelica Baca. The 39-year-old woman was standing in a median and waiting to finish crossing a street when she was killed instantly when struck by Cooper's speeding car.  Baca's mother, Rhonda Henson, said the conviction and sentencing would provide some closure.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Jailed Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin is seeking a second judge's opinion on whether he must remain incarcerated pending trial in connection with the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. In court filings Wednesday, attorneys for Griffin say a magistrate judge denied pre-trial release for reasons not cited by prosecutors and in violation of due process rights. They also argue that incarceration without bail is heavy handed considering Griffin never entered the Capitol building.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday reported 70 new COVID-19 cases and six more deaths. The latest numbers raised the totals to 28,544 cases and 1,038 known deaths since the pandemic began. On Tuesday, tribal officials said they received word that U.S. President Joe Biden had signed a long-awaited major disaster declaration for the Navajo Nation. It will provide more federal resources and prompts the release of federal funds for the reimbursement of emergency funds expended to address the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation which covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The tribe has tribe extended its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19.  


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State health officials sounded an optimistic note Wednesday about progress in containing the coronavirus pandemic amid a gradual increase in federal vaccine supplies to New Mexico and a downward statewide trend in infection rates, deaths and hospitalizations. State Health Secretary Tracie Collins announced Wednessay that nearly 9,000 people are receiving immunization shots each day statewide. The state's federal allotment of vaccine doses is increasing from 56,000 this week to 59,500 next week. State health officials say they are redoubling efforts to distribute vaccines in an equitable way to people at the greatest risk of severe health consequences.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Some New Mexico lawmakers are fed up with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's 11-month string of emergency health orders. They would like to put limits on health orders during the coronavirus pandemic and in future emergencies. A Senate committee considered a measure Wednesday that would limit emergency health orders to two weeks unless legislative leaders agree to an extension. A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham says quick action using the emergency health orders have saved lives, that the pandemic is far from over. In the House, a bill by Democratic and Republican lawmakers would limit emergency health orders to 90 days. After that, the governor would have to get legislative approval.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is backing legislation that would expand subsidies to the state's health insurance exchange for residents who don't qualify for Medicaid. A bill that would increase the state surtax on insurance premiums won its first committee endorsement Wednesday in the state House, with Republican legislators voting in opposition. Proceeds would be used to pay down premiums and other out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families that obtain insurance through state's exchange. State insurance regulators hope the measure might extend insurance coverage to 23,000 people who go without coverage.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force signaled that it would likely expand existing airspace to train F-16 fighter pilots rather than create new flying areas over the Rio Grande Valley and Gila wilderness. The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Tuesday that the Air Force would prefer to extend current operations over Eddy, Otero and Chaves counties for F-16 pilots taking off from Holloman Air Force Base. The Air Force has said that more airspace is needed to adequately train pilots. During public hearings in 2019, environmental and economic organizations said the Air Force had not provided data that supported claims that overflights and noise would have minimal impact on wildlife.


ALBUQUERQUE, NM. (AP) — A 22-year-old Kirtland Air Force Base airman has been convicted of charges stemming from a 2019 car crash that killed an Albuquerque woman. A court-martial panel on Tuesday convicted Airman Calvin Cooper of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide in the death of 39-year-old Angelica Baca.  A prosecutor said Baca was struck in a street median by Cooper's car as he drove 60 mph in a 35 mph zone, while a defense lawyer said Baca was negligent by not using a crosswalk to cross a busy street.