Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT
- HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — The investigation into this week's fiery head-on crash in West Texas now focuses on the revelation that a 13-year-old was driving the pickup truck that struck a van, killing nine people, including six members of a college golf team and their coach. The unidentified young teen and a man traveling in the truck also died. National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg on Thursday revealed the truck was driven by the child. He said the truck's left front tire also blew out before impact. The University of the Southwest students and the coach were returning to the New Mexico school from a golf tournament in Midland, Texas, when the vehicles collided Tuesday night.
TEXAS CRASH-GOLF TEAMS-EXPLAINER-YOUNG DRIVER
- It's not uncommon for people in rural parts of the U.S. to learn to drive when they're young, sometimes even before they reach their teens. But the news that a 13-year-old was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that blew a tire and struck a van in West Texas and killed nine people put a renewed focus on the practice. At a news conference Thursday, National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said the dangers of underage driving put it on the agency's "most-wanted list." William Van Tassel of AAA noted the driver's age was just one risk factor. The crash happened at night and on a road with a high speed limit when a spare tire blew.
- Jackson Zinn had a big heart and was close to his parents and two younger sisters. But when it came to the golf course, the 22-year-old University of the Southwest student was all business, self-disciplined and competitive. Family and friends remembered Zinn on Thursday as more details emerged about a fiery crash on Tuesday that killed him, five teammates and their coach. Authorities say their van was hit head-on by a pickup truck that had blown a front tire. The two people in the truck also were killed. University officials said Thursday that their close-knit community would be gathering next week to remember the students.
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An elected New Mexico official who helped found the group Cowboys for Trump faces trial next week on misdemeanor charges for being on restricted grounds at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. He plans to arrive at his trial in Washington on horseback. The strategy being used to defend Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin is just as unorthodox. His attorneys conceded Griffin entered a barricaded area to reach an outdoor balcony of the Capitol. But they have demanded prosecutors provide first-hand evidence that then-Vice President Mike Pence was still at the Capitol — a prerequisite for the Secret Service to invoke access restrictions.
CONGRESS-NEW MEXICO AUDIT
- WASHINGTON (AP) — A congressional oversight committee has opened an investigation into a partisan audit of the 2020 election results that is taking place in New Mexico and was authorized by a Republican-led county commission. Two Democrats on the House Oversight Committee wrote Thursday to the head of EchoMail requesting the company produce documents regarding its forensic audit in Otero County. The committee says it's looking into potential intimidation by volunteers from a conspiracist group canvassing voters and asking intrusive questions. EchoMail was involved in Arizona's GOP-backed ballot review, which failed to produce proof supporting bogus claims Donald Trump beat Joe Biden. EchoMail's founder hasn't responded to a request for comment.
- The Interior Department is on the verge of releasing a report on its investigation into the federal government's past oversight of Native American boarding schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Wednesday the report will come out next month. She first outlined an initiative in June that she says will uncover the truth about the loss of human life and the lasting consequences of boarding schools. Starting in 1819, the U.S. enacted laws and policies that led to Indigenous children being forced into boarding schools that sought to strip them of their language and culture.
BC-NM-CHILD DIES-STEPMOM'S PLEA
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe woman accused of fatally strangling her 5-year-old stepson in 2018 is facing a 25-year prison term. Prosecutors say 23-year-old Melynie Tyalan Curtis pleaded no contest Tuesday to charges of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in great bodily harm. They say Curtis' plea agreement calls for the dismissal of the remaining charges against her in a nine-count amended indictment. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Curtis will be required to serve at least 85 percent of her sentence and won't be eligible to accrue day-for-day credits for good behavior to reduce her prison time beyond 15 percent. Authorities say Curtis called 911 in September 2018 to report she had found her stepson unconscious in a bathtub.
- LAGUNA PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) — The FBI said Wednesday it is investigating a shooting that involved federal Homeland Security Investigations agents and occurred on a tribal reservation in New Mexico. The FBI said in a statement that no agents were injured but one person described as a "subject" was wounded in the incident Tuesday on the Laguna Pueblo. The agency said the investigation was ongoing and that no additional information was available. Laguna Pueblo is 42 miles west of Albuquerque.