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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MST

  • RIO ARRIBA COUNTY SHERIFF-SENTENCING

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday after being convicted on two felony counts of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness in 2017. Jurors in 1st Judicial District Court deliberated only about five hours before reaching the verdicts Wednesday. Prosecutors said the 60-year-old Lujan faced a prison term of up to 4 ½ years. Lujan's attorney asked the judge if his client could remain free pending an appeal.  The judge denied the request and had Lujan taken into custody by Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies. The verdict came after a three-day trial for Lujan, which was his second on the charges that stem from allegations he helped former Española City Councilor Philip Chacon evade police following a high-speed chase.  

  • TRIBAL OFFICER-RAPE ARREST

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A now-former tribal police officer for a pueblo near Albuquerque faces felony charges accusing him of raping a woman he had arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Leon Martin remained jailed Thursday after being booked Tuesday on charges of criminal sexual penetration, false imprisonment, demanding a bribe and violation of ethical principles of public service. Online court records didn't list an attorney who could comment on Martin's behalf. Isleta Pueblo Gov. Vernon Abeita said that Martin no longer was an officer for the pueblo's police department. Martin was arrested after a woman reported he raped her following a car crash. 

  • OIL DEPENDENCE-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A study commissioned by a coalition of oil and natural gas businesses in New Mexico shows that state and local governments are more reliant than ever before on the industry to pay for basic public services including public education. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association announced study results Wednesday that link $5.3 billion in annual state and local government income to the petroleum industry, while association President Leland Gould said the oil industry contributions are great news for teachers, students, healthcare workers and others. About 200 educators urged elected leaders to help diversify the economy and reduce reliance on the oil in a letter writing campaign.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 63 more COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the third consecutive day. The latest daily virus figures brought the tribe's totals to 39,561 cases since the pandemic began. The known death toll remains at 1,542. Based on cases from Nov. 12-25, the Navajo Department of Health on Monday issued an advisory for 65 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has again called for everyone on the vast reservation to get fully vaccinated or get a booster shot and wear masks.

  • JEFFREY EPSTEIN-MAXWELL TRIAL

NEW YORK (AP) — A former housekeeper is testifying that two women who have accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexually abusing them as underage teens were repeated visitors to his Palm Beach mansion and that they were summoned by Epstein or his associate Ghislaine Maxwell. Juan Patricio Alessi began testifying Thursday at Maxwell's sex trafficking trial. The case against Maxwell stems from four now-adult women who said she recruited them into being sexually abused by Epstein. Maxwell denies the allegations, and her lawyers say prosecutors are going after her because they can't try Epstein. He killed himself in 2019 while jailed on sex trafficking charges.

  • RIO ARRIBA SHERIFF-TRIAL

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan has been convicted on two felony counts of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness in 2017. Jurors in the 1st Judicial District Court deliberated only about five hours before reaching the verdicts Wednesday. The 60-year-old Lujan remains free pending his sentencing hearing Thursday. Prosecutors say Lujan is facing up to 4 ½ years in prison. The verdict came after a three-day trial for Lujan, which was his second on the charges that stem from allegations he helped former Española City Councilor Philip Chacon evade police following a high-speed chase. The first trial in the case ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked. 

  • PROP FIREARM-SHOOTING

NEW YORK (AP) — The assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin a prop gun that went off on a New Mexico film set, killing a cinematographer, backs up the actor's assertion that he did not pull the trigger. Lisa Torraco, a lawyer for assistant director David Halls, told ABC News that her client has always said Baldwin never pulled the trigger. Baldwin said during an exclusive ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos that airs Thursday that he did not pull the gun's trigger before it went off. Investigators say Baldwin fired a prop gun that had been loaded with live ammunition. The prime-time special on the shooting airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

  • PUBLIC EDUCATION-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she will pursue a 7% pay increase for educators and staff at K-12 public schools as well as higher minimum salaries for teachers at various career stages. The proposal announced Wednesday would boost salaries for more than 50,000 public education workers across the state at an annual cost of about $280 million. The Legislature convenes in January to craft a general fund spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in July 2022. The governor's office estimates that the proposed changes would increase the statewide average for teacher pay to just over $64,000 a year.