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New Mexico News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:25 a.m. MST

AP-US-CLIMATE-WESTERN-WILDFIRES

Changing snowfall makes it harder to fight fire with fire

DECKERS, Colo. (AP) — Thinning dense stands of trees across millions of acres of U.S. forestlands is a central piece of the Biden administration's $50 billion plan to protect against deadly firestorms that have been exploding across western states. But the same warming trends that worsen wildfires will also challenge the administration's attempts to guard against them. In Colorado, climate change means snow is not always on the ground when needed so that crews can safely burn off debris piles and vegetation to help keep future wildfires from becoming catastrophic. Snow cover now disappears about two weeks earlier on average across the U.S. versus 50 years ago.

ELECTION 2022-COWBOYS FOR TRUMP

Cowboys for Trump co-founder won't seek reelection

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin says he won't run for reelection on the Otero County commission in southern New Mexico or seek other public office in the 2022 election cycle. As a crucial registration deadline passed, Griffin said Tuesday that he has lost faith in the political system and the ability to effect change through elected office, though he will continue to be vocal. Griffin said the decision to sit out the election was not tied to his legal defense against misdemeanor criminal charges stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Griffin denies allegations that he knowingly entered barricaded areas of the Capitol grounds.

TAX RELIEF-NEW MEXICO

New Mexico governor slashes taxes as she pursues reelection

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor has signed tax relief legislation that hands out $250 individual rebates in an election year and narrows income taxes on Social Security to upper-income retirees. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday signed a bill with an array of tax rebate, credit and rate changes worth about $530 million in the initiative's first year. She also urged Congress to suspend the federal gasoline tax in response to rising fuel prices and President Biden's decision to cut off Russian oil imports. New Mexico is experiencing a windfall of state government income linked to oil production and federal pandemic aid.

NEW MEXICO-DEADLY PURSUIT

Prosecutors seek to hold New Mexico woman in fatal pursuit

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking to keep in custody a New Mexico woman accused of causing a crash last week that killed a police officer and a retired firefighter after she allegedly lied about having been kidnapped. A hearing has been scheduled next week to determine if Jeannine Jaramillo will remain locked up pending trial. Jaramillo faces two counts of murder and other charges stemming from a deadly wrong-way pursuit along Interstate 25 near Santa Fe. Jaramillo has a criminal record that includes two police pursuits in Cibola County last fall in stolen vehicles. Her public defender didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

TENT FIRES-DEATH-ALBUQUERQUE

Officials: 1 dead in 2 tent fires in downtown Albuquerque

Authorities say one person is dead following two fires involving tents in Albuquerque's downtown area early Tuesday morning. The fire department said cause of the male victim's death wasn't immediately known and that police and fire officials were investigating the fires. They occurred about a half-mile (0.8 kilometer) apart. The victim's identity wasn't released and no additional information was immediately available.

JEFFREY EPSTEIN-MAXWELL TRIAL

Ghislaine Maxwell juror regrets not disclosing sex abuse

NEW YORK (AP) — A juror in the sex trafficking trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell says his failure to reveal his own child sex abuse history during jury selection was one of the biggest mistakes of his life. The juror's revelation has jeopardized the conviction of Maxwell on charges she helped Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls. The juror expressed regret while responding to a judge's questions in Manhattan federal court Tuesday. He says he skimmed the questions too quickly. Maxwell's lawyers say the verdict should be thrown out. The judge didn't immediately rule. Maxwell's sentencing is scheduled for June. She says she's innocent.

NEW MEXICO CRIMINAL JUSTICE

New Mexico lawyers spar over criminal diversion program

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The top prosecutor in New Mexico's busiest judicial district says a program aimed at steering low-level offenders away from criminal prosecution remains underused despite a big rise in participation last year. District Attorney Raúl Torrez tells the Albuquerque Journal that defendants represented by public defenders don't accept enough offers from his office to participate in the pre-prosecution diversion program. But public defenders say they've accepted more offers since the district attorney started removing barriers to participation. Data from the district attorney's office shows defendants represented by public defenders accepted 29% of pre-prosecution diversion offers in November and 23% in December.

AUTO DEALERSHIP-NAVAJOS-SETTLEMENT

Navajo Nation seeks members for car dealership settlement

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials are seeking anyone who purchased a car from a chain of dealerships on or near the reservation to claim part of a settlement. The Daily Times in Farmington reports that the Office of Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission is searching for people eligible to receive part of a $450,000 settlement between Tate's Auto Group and the Federal Trade Commission. The owner of Tate's Auto Group was accused of manipulating consumer information on financial documents, according to a FTC complaint filed in 2018. The settlement was reached last summer. Tate's Auto had locations in Gallup and the Arizona communities of Holbrook, Show Low and Winslow.