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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MST

  • Salvation Army official: Theft of toys no victory for Grinch

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — The Salvation Army says Farmington-area residents of northern New Mexico are donating gifts and money after somebody stole a van loaded with $6,000 worth of toys to be distributed to over 350 children. The marked van was stolen Tuesday from outside a store. Lt. Christopher Rockwell said the community's response was heartwarming and that "the Grinch will not have this victory." Farmington police spokesperson Nicole Brown said Saturday that an investigation into the theft continued and that the van and toys hadn't been recovered and no arrest had been made. She said a motive hadn't been determined.

  • New Mexico unit to specialize on Indigenous crime victims

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. 

  • New Mexico governor approves 3-district congressional map

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 the new congressional map gives a baseline for competitive federal elections without giving any party or candidate an unfair advantage. Republicans disagree, calling it a power grab by Democrats. 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.

  • Judge finalizes jury instructions at Maxwell sex abuse trial

NEW YORK (AP) — British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has appeared in court for a rare weekend hearing where attorneys made arguments about how the judge should instruct a jury on the law in Maxwell's sex abuse trial. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan scheduled the hearing on Saturday in an otherwise closed courthouse with jurors absent. The scheduling was an effort to keep Maxwell's trial on a fast track that will have her case reach a jury early next week. Closing arguments and Nathan's instructions are set for Monday. The 59-year-old Maxwell has denied charges she groomed teenagers to have sexual enounters with financier Jeffrey Epstein.

  • EPA releases $1B to clean up toxic waste sites in 24 states

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.

  • Police: Van full of Christmas toys stolen in New Mexico

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Time is of the essence for the Salvation Army in New Mexico now that the Grinch has thrown a wrench into the group's holiday toy program. A van loaded with $6,000 worth of toys set to be passed out to hundreds of children on Monday was stolen this week from a store parking lot in Farmington. Police say the investigation is ongoing, but the group is now hustling to replace the stolen toys before Monday. Lt. Christopher Rockwell with the Salvation Army Farmington Corps said the community already is stepping up with more donations.

  • Court: EMTs can take blood in drunken driving cases

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.

  • Ghislaine Maxwell declines to testify as defense rests case

NEW YORK (AP) — After 12 days of testimony over three weeks, jurors heard from the final witnesses in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial. The British socialite told the judge Friday she wouldn't testify because she was confident prosecutors hadn't proved their case. Closing arguments are now set for Monday in the trial, in which Maxwell is accused of helping the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse four teenage girls. The defense rested its case after a tight, two days of presenting witnesses who attested to Maxwell's character or said they hadn't witnessed any wrongdoing.