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

Jul 2, 2019

Albuquerque driver charged in Uber passenger's deathALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a driver in the St. Patrick's Day shooting death of an Uber passenger in Albuquerque.Court records show Bernalillo County prosecutors charged Clayton Benedict on Monday afternoon — more than three months after the shooting death of 27-year-old James Porter occurred.A spokesman for the district attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking further explanation on timing of the charges.A voicemail left at the local public defenders' office seeking comment on Benedict's behalf was not immediately returned Tuesday.Authorities say Benedict opened fire after he picked up Porter and a friend, and an argument broke out along Interstate 25.Ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft have policies that prohibit the presence of weapons inside vehicles when they are used for transporting clients.


Deming school board to sue ex-employee over missing funds(Information from: Headlight, http://www.demingheadlight.com)DEMING, N.M. (AP) — The Deming school board has voted to file a lawsuit against a former high school secretary suspected of embezzlement.The Deming Headlight reports the board voted last week to file a civil lawsuit against a former Deming High School secretary accused of misusing funds.A 63-page forensic audit by the Jaramillo Accounting Group in December 2017 details the former employee's misuse of a district purchase card, activity funds, purchase orders and receipts.Officials say as much as $145,000 remains unaccounted for over a four-year period. The district was able to recuperate most of the lost funds through its liability insurance.Superintendent Arsenio Romero says the district needs to still recover some of those funds.___


Santa Fe golf courses temporarily close after water problemSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe golf courses and athletic fields have temporarily closed after the treated wastewater used for irrigation was found unsafe for public watering.The Santa Fe City Council voted Monday to spend between $60,000 and $110,000 on irrigating the turf with drinking water.The city-owned Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe golf course and the athletic fields at the Municipal Recreation Complex closed last week, as well as the privately-owned Santa Fe Country Club.The city stopped delivery of all treated effluent after a test showed the water contained levels of biological matter, including contaminants like E. coli, above state limits.City Public Utilities Department Director Shannon Jones says the treatment plant experienced an "upset" sometime between June 19 and June 22 that disrupted the treatment process.


Southeastern New Mexico courthouse project facing delays(Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com)HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Construction of a courthouse in southeastern New Mexico is a year behind schedule and more delays are expected.Documents obtained by the Hobbs News-Sun show there remained 101 non-conforming issues as of May 2 for the planned Lea County Judicial Complex. The five-story structure in Lovington, New Mexico, was supposed to be occupied in August 2018.Lea County Chairwoman Rebecca Long says many issues with the project haven't been addressed yet. For example, she says one of the main drains is cemented in and there are possible leaks in the roof.County officials contracted Albuquerque-based HB Construction, Inc., in December 2016 to build the facility for around $30 million.HB Construction President Matthew Mulligan says all parties are working actively to get the project to the finish line.___


Treasure hunting film begins production in New MexicoSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An independent film about two sisters searching for pirate treasure will be filmed in New Mexico.The New Mexico Film Office made the announcement Monday."Sierra Sisters The Hunt for Blackbeard's Treasure" will film starting in mid-June through July in Albuquerque, Los Lunas and Zia Pueblo.Josh Relic is directing the film. It's being produced by Spanish Broom Productions and Dream Catcher Productions, LLC.About 45 people in New Mexico will work on the film as crew members, actors and background talent.The film follows sisters Hera and Athena as they go treasure hunting and try to outsmart their rivals.


'Are you serious?' Police describe senator's DWI arrestESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — Police say a New Mexico state senator expressed surprise when he was told he was being arrested on a drunken driving charge, saying to officers, "Are you serious? Jesus Christ."A court official says Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, has five days to appear in court on charges of aggravated DWI and reckless driving.The former Rio Arriba County magistrate judge is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.He was arrested Friday night after a collision at an intersection in Espanola, and booked into jail before being released the following day.No one answered The Associated Press' calls at a number listed for Martinez.Senate Democrats said in a statement that Martinez, 66, is "a valued member of our caucus" entitled to due process.


New Mexico utility charts closure for coal-fired power plantALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest electric utility is submitting to regulators its plan for shutting down the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, how it intends to replace the lost power and what it's going to cost customers.The filing with the Public Regulation Commission comes as a new state law dictates more aggressive renewable energy requirements while allowing Public Service Co. of New Mexico to recoup from customers some of the costs.The application for abandonment of the plant and the building of replacement power includes the utility's preferred option, which it describes as the most cost-effective plan, as well as three alternatives.The preferred option would save customers about $7 a month in the first year. Utility executives couldn't say what the savings, if any, would be beyond that.They say the goal is to be emissions-free by 2040.


Creditors group seeks info on church foundation's assets(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It will be up to a U.S. bankruptcy judge whether to order the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to produce records related to $48 million in assets.A creditors committee of clergy sex abuse survivors filed a motion last week in the ongoing bankruptcy case involving the archdiocese. The Albuquerque Journal reports the panel wants to determine whether the foundation's assets are property of the archdiocese's estate.The archdiocese filed for reorganization last December, citing the financial strain of the abuse scandal.In its bankruptcy petition, the archdiocese claimed nearly $50 million in assets. The filing also said more than $57 million in property was being held in trust for numerous parishes and property transfers worth an additional $34 million were done over the past couple years.___