Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
AP-NM-HOMICIDE SUSPECT JAILED
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a suspect in an Albuquerque murder case now is in jail after being released from a hospital. Bernalillo County Sheriff's officials say an arrest warrant was issued for 20-year-old Christopher Byers last month, but he had to spend weeks in a hospital recovering from being shot in a different incident in January. Byers had a court appearance Saturday. Prosecutors want him to remain in jail until his trial in connection with the death of a 16-year-old boy. Authorities say the teen's body was found in an open field in the South Valley last month. Sheriff's officials say Byers is being held on suspicion of an open count of murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and tampering with evidence.
RUSSIA UKRAINE WAR-OVERSEAS STUDENTS
- MONTEZUMA, N.M. (AP) — Students from Ukraine who are studying overseas are worrying about their loved ones and the war's impact on the lives they were planning to return to at home. As they made crepes to sell for a war relief effort on a recent Saturday, thoughts of their relatives in harm's way weighed on several Russian-speaking students at their boarding school in the Rocky Mountains. The Russian-speaking students at the United World College campus in New Mexico have been united in horror over the invasion of Ukraine.
- LOS LUNAS, N.M. (AP) — A 24-year-old man has been convicted in the 2018 rape and strangulation killing of a 6-year-old girl who lived with her mother in a New Mexico home shared with at last seven other people. Six hours of jury deliberations end Friday evening with the conviction of Leland Hust for criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and child abuse resulting in death. Another jury acquitted Hust in 2021 of first-degree murder in the death of Ariana Jade Romero but deadlocked on the other two charges. Hust faces mandatory sentences of 30 years and 18 years on the two counts. A sentencing date was not immediately set.
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Marijuana producers and aficionados are bracing for the April 1 start of retail marijuana sales across New Mexico to adults 21 and over. Among 18 states to fully legalize cannabis sales, New Mexico is ushering in a new era for cannabis as big business with implications for law enforcement, state finances and cannabis tourism along the state line with Texas. The state is emphasizing social and economic fairness as it underwrites startup loans to small-scale marijuana producers, extends tax-free access to medical marijuana and shores up state finances with an initial 12% tax on pot sales. Hobbyists can grow up to a dozen plants per household.
- ALAMORDO, N.M. (AP) — An Alamogordo accountant faces 24 years in prison for embezzling approximately $1.8 million from a foundation that provided scholarships to high school graduates and for tax fraud. A state District Court judge on Thursday sentenced 68-year-old Marion Ledford after he pleaded no contest to one count of embezzlement and three of tax fraud. The 12th Judicial District Attorney's Office said Ledford will serve the bulk of his state sentence after he completes a concurrent 18-month sentence he received in February after previously pleading guilty to tax evasion in a related federal case. Ledford formerly was CFO of the Robert W. Hamilton Foundation in Alamogordo.
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two tribal communities are ensuring they'll be free from federal interference if they take part in New Mexico's marijuana market launching in April. The state has assured the Picuris and Pojoaque pueblos that federal law enforcement won't interfere with the industry on tribal lands. The agreements with state cannabis regulators on Friday outline cooperative oversight of cannabis production and sales in Indian Country. The pacts respond to uncertainty about U.S. drug enforcement priorities on reservations after a raid on a household marijuana garden at Picuris Pueblo last year. Across the U.S., tribal cannabis enterprises have taken a variety of approaches as they straddle jurisdictional issues.
LAWMAKER HOME SWAT
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police say they've apprehended a man after an hours-long standoff at the home of his aunt, a former lawmaker. Police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says David Hendrickson is under arrest after police used a police dog to apprehend him. A spokesman for retired lawmaker Cheryl Williams Stapleton says Hendrickson is her nephew and showed up at her house Friday in a mental health crisis. He was on pretrial release with an ankle monitor. Williams Stapleton was a powerful Democratic representative but resigned last year to defend herself against corruption charges stemming from work as an Albuquerque Public Schools administrator.
CHACO-OIL AND GAS
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Land managers are extending the comment period on a proposal that would prohibit oil and gas development on federal land surrounding a national park in New Mexico that Native American tribes consider culturally significant. The Bureau of Land Management made the announcement Friday, saying the deadline for comments is being pushed back to May 6. Two more public meetings also have been scheduled. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has proposed withdrawing nearly 550 square miles of federal land holdings within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, making the area off-limits to oil and gas leasing for 20 years.