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

Aug 28, 2020

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A former northwestern New Mexico police officer shown on a lapel video roughing up an 11-year-old middle school girl a year ago has been charged with felony child abuse and misdemeanor battery. The New Mexico Attorney General's Office on Wednesday announced the charges against Zachary Christensen. He resigned from the Farmington Police Department about a month after the Aug. 27 encounter. Steve Murphy, Christensen's attorney, told The Daily Times in Farmington that State Police conducted an investigation within two weeks of the incident and no criminal charges were filed. Murphy said the attorney general's office was trying to grandstand.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials are relaxing pandemic lockdown restrictions to allow larger public gatherings of up to 10 people and provide limited access to museums with static displays. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the changes Thursday at a video news conference. In-person classroom learning is being delayed in counties with high average daily infections or high positivity on coronavirus tests. Other changes that take effect Saturday will allow people to dine indoors at restaurants in limited numbers for the first time since mid-July. State health officials announced 190 new virus cases and nine related deaths. That raises the pandemic tally to 24,920 cases and 764 deaths statewide.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Following the federal execution of one of its citizens, the Navajo Nation wants more say over criminal justice matters on its reservation in the U.S. Southwest. Lezmond Mitchell, who is Navajo, was executed Wednesday at a federal prison in Indiana where he was being held. He was the only Native American on federal death row. The Navajo Nation says the federal government violated the spirit of a law that allows tribes to decide whether to subject their citizens to the death penalty. Tribal officials say they'll work with congressional leaders and advocacy groups to push for change.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a 17-year-old suspect will face adult charges in the death of a former Santa Fe High School basketball player killed about a month ago. First Judicial District Judge T. Glenn Ellington ruled Wednesday that Estevan Montoya would be charged with murder, negligent use of a handgun, unlawful possession of a handgun and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors say Fedonta "J.B." White died after being shot during a house party in Chupadero, north of Santa Fe. Montoya's Defense Attorney Dan Marlowe did not dispute who shot White but questioned who instigated the fight leading up to the shooting.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — President Donald Trump is seeking re-election on a tough-on-crime agenda and Albuquerque, New Mexico, is one city he singles out for having high crime. New Mexico's largest city is 10th in the nation for violent crime and ranks No. 2 for car thefts. Trump dispatched federal agents to the city last month, and federal officials say arrests are being made. New Mexico Democrats have bristled at Trump's move, saying the city already is working with federal authorities on mandated police reforms. They blame Albuquerque crime on an officer shortage and the opioid epidemic. Others say a judicial system revolving door puts repeat offenders back on the street.


TSAILE, Ariz. (AP) — Officials at Diné College are excited about enrollment numbers this fall as more students than expected have registered for classes despite challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Provost Geraldine Garrity initially thought the limitations of internet access and connectivity on the Navajo Nation might affect numbers, but she said students found a way and prepared for the fall semester. The school reported that fall enrollment totaled 1,348 as of Monday. That's 50 students less than at the same time last year. Officials say the college is getting more transfer students and that full-time students outnumber part-timers this year.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham plans to relax some public health mandates and she is citing recent progress in slowing the coronavirus outbreak. The governor said Wednesday that limited indoor dining at food and drink establishments will be allowed. And capacity at houses of worship will be increased from 25% to 40% starting Saturday. State health officials say average daily coronavirus case totals have declined recently. They also say that virus testing capacity is meeting targets and that the virus' spread rate statewide is below the target. New Mexico has reported more than 24,730 confirmed cases and 755 deaths.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the authority of the state health secretary to restrict or close businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic. The unanimous 4-0 decision Wednesday was spurred by restrictions on indoor dining. In a decision announced by Justice Judith Nakamura, the court also rejected assertions by the restaurant industry that a July 13 ban on indoor dining service was arbitrary and capricious. The decision bolsters the authority of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her Cabinet, even as she announced plans to lift a ban on indoor dining as part of a revised public health order that will take effect Saturday.