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Local and State News

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

  • New Mexico lawmaker changes affiliation after abortion vote

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico who voted in favor of a Democratic-backed abortion bill has left the Republican Party. House Minority Leader Jim Townsend said on Friday that state Rep. Phelps Anderson of Roswell changed his voter registration to a "declined to state" after voting to repeal a 1969 law that criminalizes abortion. Anderson sided with seven Democrats in repealing the law, drawing criticism from his constituents as well as calls for his resignation. Anderson was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 and won reelection in 2020. He also served in the House from 1977 through 1980.

  • New Mexico reports 424 additional COVID-19 cases, 8 deaths

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico on Saturday reported 424 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and eights deaths as the coronavirus outbreak in the state slows. The latest figures released by the Department of Health increased the state's pandemic totals to 177,214 cases and 3,386 but rolling two-week averages of daily new cases and daily deaths dropped over the past two weeks. According to data from The COVID-Tracking Project, the rolling average of daily new cases dropped from about 847 on Jan. 22 to around 571 on Friday and the rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 29 to 18.6.

  • Structure fire in village spreads into New Mexico forest

SACRAMENTO, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service officials say a fire that started Friday night in a structure in the southern New Mexico mountain village of Sacramento spread into an adjacent national forest before crews stopped its growth overnight. Officials say numerous volunteer fire departments and two fire engines completed lines around the fire, limiting its size to 17 acres of private land and Lincoln National Forest. Officals said crews on Saturday were mopping up and monitoring the fire to ensure that fire lines continued to contain the fire. Sacramento is in Otero County and 24 miles (39 kilometers) east of Alamogordo.

  • Endangered wolves sent from Arizona to Texas to aid species

PHOENIX (AP) — Two endangered Mexican gray wolves and three of their pups have moved from the Phoenix Zoo to the El Paso Zoo in a bid to bolster the number of predators. The Arizona Republic reports that three other pups stayed in Phoenix and are now adjusting to an emptier den and establishing a new hierarchy. Phoenix Zoo officials say that while it doesn't have a breeding pair anymore, it plans to change the enclosure to make it appealing to a breeding female wolf. The other wolves were transferred under a cooperative breeding program that aims to help the Mexican gray wolf survive.

  • Cowboys for Trump leader released from jail pending trial

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge in Washington, D.C., is freeing from jail Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin as he awaits trial in connection with the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell on Friday reversed a magistrate judge's detention order and released Griffin to his home in New Mexico pending trial on charges of knowingly entering barricaded areas of the Capitol grounds with the intent to disrupt government as Congress considered Electoral College results. Howell says denying pre-trial release might leave Griffin in jail for longer than the one-year maximum sentence amid pandemic-related court delays.

  • Democrats cap damage awards in police accountability bill

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill that would strip police officers of immunity from civil rights lawsuits in state court is being rewritten to cap potential damage awards at $2 million, in a concession to critics who warned of dire financial consequences for local governments and taxpayers. Bill sponsor and state Rep. Georgene Louis of Albuquerque announced the revisions Friday to the bill that would also waive personal liability in lawsuits against police and other government officials for violations of an array of civil rights under the state constitution. The bill confronts a crucial hurdle at a hearing scheduled for Monday in the Democrat-led state House.

  • New Mexico State Police officer shot and killed on highway

DEMING, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a New Mexico State Police officer making a traffic stop was fatally shot on a highway and that the attacker was chased and later died in a shootout with authorities. The officer who was killed Thursday has been identified as Darian Jarrott. He had been a state police officer since 2015. The attacker was identified by authorities as 39-year-old Omar Felix Cueva. The state police have said Jarrott was assisting U.S. Homeland Security Investigations on Thursday. State Police Chief Robert Thornton says Cueva was on his way to the city of Las Cruces to do a drug deal.

  • Wild horse hit, killed along highway near Navajo Nation

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Authorities and residents on the Navajo Nation have raised concerns about a herd of wild horses that have been grazing along a highway for several days before one was fatally hit by a driver last month. The Gallup Independent reported that Navajo Police joined residents to chase the remaining horses back to the mountains in the Red Rock Chapter area. Authorities say the horse was struck by a vehicle driving on New Mexico Highway 602 on Jan. 28. Shane Thom, a 30-year-old New Mexico resident who was visiting family nearby, expressed concerns over the horses and the drivers along the highway, calling the animals a "safety hazard."