- New Mexico man ends trial, admits killing wife, 4 daughters
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — A prosecutor in New Mexico says a man ended his trial and admitted he killed his wife and four daughters in 2016 at their home in Roswell. The local district attorney, Scot Key, said Friday that 39-year-old Juan David Villegas-Hernandez will face five life-in-prison sentences following his no-contest plea to five murder charges. Villegas-Hernandez acknowledged shooting his 34-year-old wife, Cynthia Villegas, and their four daughters, ages 3 to 14. Key said Villegas-Hernandez fled to Mexico before he was arrested and transferred back to the U.S. in custody. Sentencing is scheduled next Wednesday at the Chaves County Courthouse in Roswell.
- New Mexico relaxes mask rules for the fully vaccinated
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has adopted guidance on face masks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most cases. The state Department of Health announced Friday that masks are no longer required of vaccinated people in many public settings, though businesses and workplaces may still make face coverings a requirement for all regardless. Schools will continue to require masks at all times except when eating or drinking. A broad reopening in New Mexico has been linked to the goal of a 60% statewide vaccination rate.
- Health officials: Half of New Mexicans now fully vaccinated
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is now administering the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 to children ages 12 to 15. The move follow authorizations this week by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The New Mexico Department of Health is encouraging families to register children on the state's vaccine website. The expanded availability applies only to the Pfizer vaccine, which until now was only available to people ages 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people 18 and older. State officials say more than 50% of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated.
- New Mexico ACLU sues over treatment of immigrant detainees
ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center are suing a private prison company over the treatment of several immigrant detainees at the Torrance County Detention Center. The groups announced the lawsuit Friday. It centers on the use of pepper spray by guards last year as the immigrants protested poor living conditions and what they said were inadequate COVID-19 precautions. They also complained that updates on their immigration cases were being withheld. Detention center operator CoreCivic said it has followed federal guidelines regarding COVID-19 and that guards were forced to take action after the detainees became disruptive and ignored verbal orders.
- New Mexico Auditor Colón to run for state attorney general
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón has announced his candidacy for the office of state attorney general. The Democrat wants to follow in the footsteps of friend Hector Balderas, who is wrapping up his second term as New Mexico's top prosecutor and consumer advocate. They worked at the same law firm. Colón became the first person Thursday to enter the race for the open seat. Colón said he sees this as an opportunity to "take the next step." He said he is motivated by growing up poor in New Mexico and a desire to serve his community and protect families. Public safety is among his priorities.
- New Mexico education department mandates diversity course
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Public Education Department is completing a mandatory, agency-wide diversity training this week. The agency says the mandate is a new facet of a plan to address an ongoing court order. A judge has reaffirmed the order to address inadequate education services for Native Americans and other students, including a recent ruling to provide fast internet for students unable to attend classes in person. The department says educators need to be able to provide services for students of different cultural, linguistic, and income backgrounds. Separately, school staff are required to take diversity training under the Black Education Act.
- Trial of man accused of murdering wife, 4 daughters begins
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — The trial of a man accused of murdering his wife and four daughters in 2016 has begun in Roswell, New Mexico. Juan David Villegas-Hernandez faces five counts of first degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Cynthia Villegas, and four daughters Yamilen, Cynthia, Abby and Ida. They were found with gunshot wounds to the head inside their home in July 2016. The prosecution at the trial Tuesday said that Villegaz-Hernandez killed his wife and children after learning that she wanted to divorce him. Villegas-Hernandez's attorney called the crime horrific and heartbreaking, but he argued his client had no motive and prosecutors don't have the evidence to implicate him.
- In devotion to Trump, House GOP taps Stefanik for a top post
WASHINGTON (AP) — Demonstrating their allegiance to Donald Trump, Republicans have elected Rep. Elise Stefanik to a House leadership post. The New Yorker's elevation highlights how a party whose lodestar has long been conservative policies increasingly views devotion to the former president as indispensable to electoral success. Stefanik is a Trump stalwart, and on Friday she was elected to the No. 3 leadership job that until this week belonged to Rep. Liz Cheney. Republicans tossed the Wyoming Republican from that post for continually calling out Trump for helping spur the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and relentlessly pushing his false claims that voting fraud caused his November reelection defeat.