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

  • Online DNA profile leads to suspect in 1997 rape case in NM

Prosecutors in Albuquerque say they were able to track down a suspect in a decades-old case by using open-source genealogy data. Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez announced an arrest Tuesday in a case from 1997. The Albuquerque Journal reports it's the second time the office has been able to file charges using online genetic profiles. Torrez says his office hired a contractor in the latest case who was able to match DNA collected from a fork the suspect discarded to online data. Torrez says the suspect's DNA has been linked to several other rapes. 

  • Navajo Nation reports 10 more COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is reporting 10 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the vast reservation but no additional deaths. The figures released Tuesday pushed the total number of cases to 40,856 since the pandemic began. The death toll remained at 1,576. Tribal President Jonathan Nez urged residents to get vaccinated and a booster shot to build a defense against variants, including omicron. Vaccines do not prevent people from getting coronavirus, but health officials say the shots are effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death. 

  • New Mexico governor signs spending of federal pandemic aid

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's governor has signed a nearly $500 milling spending bill that draws on federal pandemic relief funds. The funds will help the state expand high-speed internet access, bolster roads, upgrade state parks, expand nurse training programs and help teachers pay off their student debts amid a shortage of educators. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday approved all proposed spending measures in the bill and vetoed a requirement that local governments contribute to related affordable housing projects. A bill-signing ceremony in Belen marks a truce in a lengthy standoff between the governor and a handful of state senators over which branch of government can allocate $1.7 billion in federal pandemic aid.

  • Albuquerque police launch crackdown on off-road vehicles

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police are launching a crackdown on off-road vehicles being driven on streets and highways. Police officials announced Monday that officers are being instructed to cite and tow all off-road vehicles being driven illegally, with no exceptions. Police noted that a 7-year-old boy was killed when struck by an off-road vehicle on a city street earlier this month as his family used a crosswalk. An arrest warrant has been issued for a 27-year-old man in that case. Deputy Chief Mike Smathers said police have noticed an increase in off-highway vehicles being driven on city streets over the past year. 

  • Biden administration moves to expand solar power on US land

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials have approved two solar projects in California and are opening public lands in other Western states to potential solar development. The moves are part of the Biden administration's effort to counter climate change by shifting from fossil fuels. The company proposing the projects east of Los Angeles say combined they would generate enough power for about 132,000 homes. Also Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management published a call to nominate land for development within "solar energy zones" in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Democratic President Joe Biden's promotion of renewable wind and solar power marks a shift from Republican President Donald Trump's emphasis on coal, oil and gas.

  • New Mexico adds vaccine rule to mask mandate at the Pit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico is adding coronavirus vaccination rules to a mask requirement for fans entering the Pit arena in Albuquerque starting after the Christmas weekend. In a statement on Monday, officials cited surging COVID-19 numbers and the emerging threat of the omicron variant. The directive starts with women's and men's basketball games Dec. 28. Everyone 12 and older entering the 15,000-seat arena will need to show proof they're fully vaccinated or show a recent negative COVID-19 test. New Mexico becomes the sixth school in the 11-member Mountain West Conference to set a vaccine rule for home arenas.

  • New Mexico governor seeks low-carbon fuel standard

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor is renewing calls for legislators to approve requirements for fuel producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Monday in a statement that state lawmakers should pass a clean fuel standard during the upcoming legislative session. The governor of the major oil producing state has discretion over which nonbudgetary initiatives are heard during a 30-day legislative session that starts Jan. 18. Earlier this year, a Democrat-sponsored bill to impose low-carbon fuel standards stalled in the state House of Representatives after wining Senate's endorsement on a party-line vote with Republicans in opposition. California and Oregon already have similar programs.

  • Suspect in Albuquerque boy's hit-and-run death a fugitive

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The driver suspected of hitting and killing a 7-year-old Albuquerque boy is now considered a fugitive. Police said Monday that they served a warrant at the home of 27-year-old Sergio Almanza and he appears to have gone on the run. Investigators identified Almanza as the suspected driver of the off-road vehicle involved in Dec. 12 incident. Authorities say Pronoy Bhattacharya and his family had just left the River of Lights display at ABQ BioPark when an all-terrain vehicle struck the boy and his father. The child died. The father suffered serious injuries but is expected to recover. Police say they suspect the driver was drunk.