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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT


WOODBURY, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man facing murder charges in two states has made a court appearance as he awaits a possible indictment. Sean Lannon appeared by videoconference in Gloucester County, New Jersey, where he was charged last month with murder in the beating death of Michael Dabkowski. Lannon also is charged with murder in New Mexico in the slaying of his ex-wife and two of her friends whose decomposed bodies were found in a pickup truck parked at an airport. He is also suspected in the death of a fourth person found dead in the truck. Authorities arrested Lannon in St. Louis a few days after Dabkowski was killed. Lannon's attorney didn't comment after Thursday's proceeding.


ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A Farmington man has been arrested for what authorities said was his acknowledged presence inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. Authorities say Shawn Bradley Witzemann acknowledged during an FBI interview that he was inside the Capitol and provided investigators with videos he took while there. The FBI said Witzemann made his way to the building's rotunda and shot video until an officer told him to leave. Witzemann's attorney, Todd Bullion, said his client has done nothing wrong. Authorities said Witzemann travels to protests to provide live-streaming video coverage and takes part in a podcast called "The Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism."


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is visiting Utah as she prepares to submit a review on national monuments in the state. Residents there have both staunchly supported establishing and increasing the size of national monuments, and fiercely rallied against them. Haaland is the latest Interior secretary tasked with making recommendations on where the boundaries lie. Her input comes after President Donald Trump's administration decided to downsize two national monuments in southern Utah. She is expected to submit a report to President Joe Biden after her meetings Thursday with tribes and elected leaders at Bears Ears National Monument.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is making it easier for residents 60 and up to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials announced Thursday that seniors can now schedule appointments to get a shot directly. That gives them a priority for picking dates and locations for their appointments. The move follows a federal report finding New Mexico lagged behind other states in distributing the vaccine to highly vulnerable populations. Younger residents are still expected to respond to first-come, first-served offers for vaccinations through texts and emails. Everyone is encouraged to register for the vaccine and select appointments online, but a tech support phone number is available.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A longtime Albuquerque resident has been listed as a billionaire on Forbes' annual list of the richest people in the world. The magazine published its latest rundown of global billionaires this week. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Ron Corio is the state's first billionaire. He came to New Mexico in 1979 from New Jersey and launched Array Technologies, Inc. in 1989. The company makes tracking systems for solar arrays that move to follow the sun. Forbes reported Corio is one of 2,755 global billionaires included on the list and one of 724 in the U.S. Forbes says he had a net worth of $1.1 billion as of Tuesday.


CHAMITA, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in northern New Mexico say a man and his adult son have been arrested in connection with a March 11 shooting in which one person was killed and three others wounded during a drug-related encounter. The State Police said 50-year-old Andrew Valdez of Chamita was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and 31-year-old Mario Valdez of Espanola was charged with first-degree murder and numerous other crimes. The State Police said officers responding to a shots-fired report found 35-year-old Fernando Martinez of Espanola dead and three other people wounded.  Online court records did not list attorneys for the father and son who might comment on the allegations.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new state law will make it easier for  older residents in New Mexico to permanently excuse themselves from jury service. The law applies to state residents age 75 or older who have been summoned to jury duty. They no longer will be required to submit a sworn, notarized statement if they want to be excused from jury service. Starting June 18, qualifying New Mexicans can request an excusal online through the state court system's jury website. Another option is to call the local court for more information. Census Bureau population estimates say 7% of New Mexicans are 75 years or older. That's about 153,000 residents.  


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 16 more confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths. The latest figures bring the pandemic totals on the tribe's reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, increased to 30,198 cases. The known death toll remains at 1,259. On Tuesday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 B.1.429 variant on the Navajo Nation, which came from a test sample obtained in the Chinle service unit area.  The variant was first identified in the state of California and has since been detected across the southwest U.S.