Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
NEW YORK (AP) — ABC News has released a clip in which Alec Baldwin tells George Stephanopoulos that he did not pull the trigger on a gun that went off on a New Mexico film set, killing a cinematographer. The interview will air as a prime-time special Thursday on ABC and will stream later on Hulu. Baldwin fired a prop gun that had been loaded with live ammunition. The cinematographer was killed and the film's director was injured. It is the first time Baldwin has spoken in depth on screen about the shooting. ABC News says it will do a more in-depth report on the investigation into the killing next week on "20/20."
NEW YORK (AP) — The defense at the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is trying to cast doubt on a key accuser's allegation that the British socialite helped financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually the woman for years, starting when she was 14. A lawyer confronted the witness on Wednesday with FBI documents the defense says show she's made inconsistent statements about Maxwell's participation in the abuse. She responded by disputing the accuracy of the papers. The 59-year-old Maxwell pleaded not guilty to charges that prosecutors say show that she and Epstein were "partners in crime." The defense has countered by claiming she's being made a scapegoat for Epstein.
- PROP FIREARM-SHOOTING
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities are pursuing new leads on possible sources of live ammunition involved in actor Alec Baldwin's fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of a western movie. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday searched the premises of an Albuquerque-based firearms and ammunition supplier to the film "Rust." The supplier says he may know where live rounds came from, describing ammunition he received from a friend in the past that had been assembled from parts. Baldwin fired a prop revolver he thought was harmless during a "Rust" rehearsal on Oct. 21, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the director.