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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST

  • Rio Arriva County panel picks a replacement sheriff

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — The Rio Arriba County Commission has chosen a new sheriff to fill a vacancy created when James Lujan resigned last week after being sentenced to prison on two felony convictions. County Sheriff's Maj. Billy Merrifield was sworn in as sheriff on Monday after the commission approved the appointment during a special meeting. Lujan was sentenced to three years in prison on convictions of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness stemming from a 2017 incident in Espanola.

  • Navajo Nation: 35 more COVID cases, no deaths 3rd day in row

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 35 more COVID-19 cases, but no deaths for the third consecutive day. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's total cases since the pandemic began to 40,171. The known death toll remains at 1,551. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has again called for everyone on the vast reservation to get a booster shot and wear masks. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  • FBI: Man robbed two Albuquerque banks in about 15 minutes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The FBI says a man is believed to have robbed two Wells Fargo bank branches in Albuquerque within about 15 minutes Monday and is suspected of robbing four other Albuquerque banks in September and October. According to the FBI, the suspect is described as white, in his 30s, approximately 5-foot-9 (1.5 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), with black hair and a thin build. The FBI said he wore a blue sweater, a blue hat with a red brim and an image of a mountain on a gold background, a blue surgical mask, gray gloves, blue jeans and dark shoes.   

  • Democrat-led New Mexico delves into political redistricting

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Efforts to draw new political boundaries in New Mexico are starting in earnest as the Democrat-led Legislature convenes for an open-ended special session. The session began at midday on Monday. The stakes in the redistricting process are especially high for residents of a congressional swing district in southern New Mexico that flipped to Republican control in 2020. Native American communities are seeking greater political influence through a variety of strategies. Map recommendations were provided to legislators by a citizens' advisory panel. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holds veto authority over the process.

  • Woman says Maxwell abused her at age 14

NEW YORK (AP) — One of Ghislaine Maxwell's accusers says the British socialite once felt her naked 14-year-old body before telling her it would be a "great body" for financier Jeffrey Epstein and his friends. The witness was identified only by her first name, Carolyn, and took the witness stand on Tuesday. She became the third woman to testify at the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell about the abuse the accusers said they endured at the hands of Epstein. They allege the abuse was facilitated by his close associate Maxwell. The 59-year-old Maxwell has denied the charges. Her lawyers say the government is making her a scapegoat for Epstein's alleged sex crimes.

  • Passenger grabs steering wheel, causes New Mexico bus crash

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Police say a passenger is facing charges after grabbing the steering wheel of a Greyhound bus during a dispute with his brother and causing the bus to crash into a light pole in Albuquerque. They say the bus driver and two passengers are hospitalized with serious injuries and two other people are hurt after the crash late Sunday night near an Interstate 40 exit. Police say 52-year-old Leroy Maass has been booked into jail on suspicion of three counts of aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm and two misdemeanor counts of aggravated battery. They say Maass and his brother were traveling on the bus from Washington to Oklahoma.  

  • Exxon Mobil rolls out plan to cut emissions in Permian Basin

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Exxon Mobil says it has a plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in one of the most prolific oilfields in the U.S. The company made the announcement Monday, saying it will be focusing on emissions from its own operations as well as indirect emissions associated with the electricity it buys to power its well sites and other infrastructure. Exxon's plan centers on the Permian Basin, which spans parts of New Mexico and Texas. In New Mexico, regulators earlier this year adopted rules aimed at curbing methane emissions, with a target of capturing 98% of all natural gas waste by the end of 2026.

  • Ex-Navajo Nation controller faces new criminal complaints

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has accused its former top financial officer of misrepresenting information on a company hired to do rapid COVID-19 testing on the reservation. The criminal complaints filed Friday in tribal court allege Pearline Kirk violated tribal law in advising the tribal government to hire Agile Technologies Group LLC. The tribe's Department of Justice says the company received more than $3 million for pandemic-related services but wasn't qualified. Kirk's attorney, David Jordan, said Monday he hasn't seen the latest complaints and declined to comment. He previously said Kirk did nothing wrong and was protecting essential workers in her office.