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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Prosecutors can pursue murder charges in Santa Fe crash

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A judge says prosecutors presented enough evidence to pursue murder charges in a criminal trial against a New Mexico woman accused of causing a car crash that killed a police officer and a retired firefighter. Jeannine Jaramillo had a preliminary hearing Thursday before Santa Fe District Court Judge Mary Marlow Sommer. The 46-year-old Jaramillo is facing two counts of first-degree murder along with other charges in the March 2 wrong-way crash after a police pursuit on Interstate 25. She originally was thought to be a victim in the multi-vehicle crash, but later was accused of causing the deadly wreck and lying to police about what happened. According to authorities, Jaramillo initially told authorities that she been carjacked at knifepoint.

Rock strike, fall from ladder kills visitor at Bandelier

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Bandelier National Monument officials say a visitor was fatally injured at Bandelier National Monument when struck by a falling rock while climbing ladders to reach a canyon alcove. Monument officials said in a statement that the visitor fell about 30 feet after being struck Wednesday while climbing the second of the four ladders used to the reach the Alcove House,. The statement said visitor died while being lowered to the ground with ropes and a litter, and resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful. The victim's identity wasn't released. The statement said Alcove House will be closed until further notice while the incident is investigated.

New rules aim to decide US asylum cases in months, not years

The Biden administration has unveiled new procedures to handle asylum claims at the U.S. southern border, hoping to decide cases in months instead of years. The rules empower asylum officers to grant or deny claims, an authority that has been limited to immigration judges for people arriving at the border with Mexico. Immigration courts are backlogged with nearly 1.7 million cases, and it takes an average of nearly four years to decide an asylum case. The changes unveiled Thursday could have far-reaching impact, but officials say they will start slowly. The changes are expected to take effect in about two months.

White House releases report on Native American voting rights

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The White House says local, state and federal officials must do more to ensure Native Americans have equal access to voting. The Biden administration released a report Thursday that reiterated the persistent, longstanding and deep-rooted barriers to voting in tribal communities. Native Americans and Alaska Natives vote at lower rates than the national average but have been a key constituency in tight races and states with large Native populations. Absent action from Congress, Biden is seeking changes at the local and state levels. The White House report builds on other work by Native American voting rights advocates.

US states seek to ease inflation burden with direct payments

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Governors and state lawmakers throughout the U.S. are floating proposals to send checks to help residents cope with soaring inflation at a time when state budgets are bursting with cash. The relief ideas come at a time when many states actually have too much money on their hands because of billions of dollars of federal pandemic aid and ballooning tax revenue. It's also happening as the war in Ukraine has compounded soaring prices for fuel and other essentials. According to the Wharton Business School, the average family had to spend $3,500 more last year to buy the same amount of goods and services as they purchased in previous years.

Methane survey from small plane finds more pollution, waste

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A pollution survey using sensors on small airplanes to detect methane emissions across a major U.S. oil and natural gas production zone points to higher rates of waste and pollution than previously estimated. Released Wednesday, the study estimated that methane emissions are equivalent to roughly 9% of the overall gas production in the surveyed area. That's more than double the rate in several previous studies of the Permian Basin and national estimates by the U.S. government. The study arrives during a pivot period for efforts by government regulators and industry to measure and rein in greenhouse gas emissions from oilfield infrastructure.

Only 1 inmate stole McKinley County Sheriff's transport van

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have released updated information about three inmates who reportedly stole a McKinley County Sheriff's Office transport van before being captured. New Mexico State Police officials had said Monday that the inmates were being transported by a sheriff's deputy who apparently had a medical episode and had to stop the van. But county Undersheriff James Maiorano said Tuesday that it was one of the two male inmates _ 35-year-old Joshua Hall _ who slipped out of his handcuffs, faked a heart attack and overpowered the deputy when he opened the van's door. Maiorano says Hall then drove away in the van with the other inmates still shackled in the back. A lengthy pursuit ended when they were taken back into custody.

Official guilty of illegally entering Capitol grounds Jan. 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has convicted an elected official from New Mexico of illegally entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds but acquitted him of engaging in disorderly conduct during the riot that disrupted Congress from certifying Joe Biden's presidential election victory. U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden heard one day of testimony without a jury Monday before handing down a verdict Tuesday in the misdemeanor case against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin. Griffin's Washington, D.C., trial was the second among the hundreds of federal cases arising from the Jan. 6, 2021, siege. Griffin is among the few riot defendants who wasn't accused of entering the Capitol building or engaging in violent or destructive behavior.