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New Mexico News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT

AP-US-ENDANGERED-WOLVES-POPULATION

Growth slows for endangered Mexican gray wolf population

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — There are now more Mexican gray wolves roaming the southwestern U.S. than at any time since the federal government started reintroducing the endangered species of predators. Results of the latest annual Mexican gray wolf survey show there are at least 196 in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. That marks the sixth straight year that wolf's numbers have increased. But U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said Wednesday that the wolves' population growth over the last year was tempered by higher than average pup mortality. Fewer pups survived through the end of the year in 2021, but there were more breeding pairs recorded.

FLEE POLICE-PROBATION POLICY

Prosecutor against probation in cases of aggravated fleeing

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Dangerous incidents involving high-speed police pursuits have prompted a northern New Mexico district attorney to adopt a policy to toughen potential plea deals for defendants in those cases. First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said Monday the policy prohibits probation as being the sentence in a plea deal for a case of aggravated fleeing. Also, her office will ask judges to order that anyone accused of aggravated fleeing be jailed until trial. The 1st Judicial District covers Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties. Recent incidents prompting the policy include two wrong-way cases on Interstate 25, including one that resulted in crashes that killed two people.

CHAVES COUNTY-DEPUTY SHOOTING

Chaves County deputies involved in fatal shooting at dairy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An investigation is underway after a disorderly conduct call at a dairy in Chaves County ended with a man fatally shot. KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports Sheriff Mike Herrington issued a video statement regarding the Sunday night shooting. Herrington confirmed two deputies were involved. The deputies tried to detain a suspect by first using tasers on him several times. He was then shot and killed. Authorities have not released any further details. Investigators from Chaves County Sheriff's Office, Roswell Police and New Mexico State Police are all looking at the shooting.

AP-NM-HOMICIDE SUSPECT JAILED

Suspect in Albuquerque murder jailed after hospital release

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

Ukrainian students overseas fret about relatives, the future

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.

GIRL KILLED-CONVICTION

Man convicted in death of 6-year-old girl in New Mexico

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.

MARIJUANA-NEW MEXICO-EXPLAINER

EXPLAINER: What's ahead for recreational pot in New Mexico

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.

FOUNDATION EMBEZZLEMENT

Accountant gets 24-year term for embezzling from foundation

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.