Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MST
- MISSING INDIGENOUS-SPECIAL UNIT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors in New Mexico's busiest judicial district and the state Indian Affairs Department are teaming up to create a special investigative unit to focus on cases of missing and slain Native Americans. State Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo and Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez announced the memorandum of understanding Thursday to create the unit. The team within the district attorney's office will help a statewide task force with analysis, case investigations and interventions. Officials said New Mexico has the fifth-largest Native American population in the U.S. and the highest number of Indigenous people who have been killed or are missing in the country.
- REDISTRICTING-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor has signed legislation to redraw the state's three congressional districts and divide a conservative stronghold into multiple districts over the objections of Republicans. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday that new congressional map gives a baseline for competitive federal elections without giving any party or candidate an unfair advantage. Consultants to the Legislature say the new congressional map gives Democrats an advantage in all three districts to varying degrees. Republicans need a net gain of five seats in 2022 to take control of the U.S. House and effectively freeze President Joe Biden's agenda.
Federal environmental officials have announced a $1 billion infusion to the Superfund program. The money comes from the infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden recently signed into law. It'll help officials tackle a backlog of highly polluted Superfund sites in 24 states. Nearly 50 toxic waste sites will be cleaned up, and ongoing work at dozens of others will get a funding boost. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan made the announcement Friday at a Superfund site in Philadelphia. He says most of the sites are in minority communities that have suffered disproportionately from contamination.
- DWI-BLOOD DRAW
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Emergency room technicians who are trained and experienced in drawing blood can draw blood for the purpose of a DWI investigation. The New Mexico Supreme Court made the determination in an opinion issued Thursday in a case that originated in San Juan County. Attorney General Hector Balderas said the decision codifies a common-sense notion and supports the Legislature's intent to allow for valid blood draws to be used as evidence in DWI investigations and prosecutions. State data shows there have been more than 100 fatalities resulting from alcohol-involved crashes so far this year. That's notably less than the previous two years.
NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell's defense has rested its case after two days of presenting evidence on the British socialite's behalf. Not among that evidence was testimony from the longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate herself. Around a half-hour after Maxwell told the court Friday she would not testify in her own defense because "the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt," one of her attorneys announced the defense had rested. The judge told the jury that announcement closed the evidence portion of the trial. She told jurors to return Monday when parties will do their closing arguments.
- PROP FIREARM-SHOOTING
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have issued a search warrant for Alec Baldwin's cell phone, saying it could hold evidence that might be helpful as they investigate a deadly shooting on a New Mexico film set. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded in the Oct. 21 shooting on the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set near Santa Fe. Baldwin was holding the gun during rehearsal when it fired. He has maintained that he didn't pull the trigger, only that he had cocked the hammer. Authorities have been trying to determine where the live rounds found on the set came from.
- ARREST WARRANT-HIT-AND-RUN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An arrest warrant has been issued for a Belen man in the hit-and-run death of a 7-year-boy struck by an off-road vehicle as his family crossed a street after a holiday event at the Albuquerque BioPark. Police said Sergio Almanza was not at his home Thursday and he's now considered a fugitive. Police say multiple tips and witness statements led investigators to Almanza, who is suspected of running a red light Sunday and striking Pronoy Bhattacharya. Almanza is accused of homicide by vehicle, great bodily harm, leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily harm, and tampering with evidence.
- WILDLIFE KILLING-NEVADA LAWSUIT
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists are suing three federal agencies over an environmental review the government says satisfies requirements to resume the killing coyotes, mountain lions and other wildlife in federally protected wilderness areas in Nevada. The move comes five years after the U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services settled a similar lawsuit by suspending operations to protect livestock from predators. The lead plaintiff is the WildEarth Guardians group that has long has battled USDA over the predator management program that Congress approved in 1931. It costs U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars annually and allows the department to eradicate a native species including mountain lions, bears, wolves and coyotes "for the benefit of agribusiness."