Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT

May 11, 2019

Utility, city converting streetlights in Albuquerque to LED
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque and Public Service Co. of New Mexico plan to convert all of the over 11,000 PNM-owned streetlights in New Mexico's most populous city to energy-efficient LED by the end of the year.
Officials say the conversion project is intended to save money on electricity and to improve lighting in neighborhoods.
The conversion project began last month in the International District and crews will complete the work in phases as they move from one part of the city to another.


Mayor vows coordinated push against Albuquerque crime
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Mayor Tim Keller says drugs, guns, gangs and domestic violence are fueling crime in Albuquerque, where the shooting death of a University of New Mexico athlete became the latest high-profile killing to shake the city.
Keller and other officials vowed Friday to crack down on crime. Deputy Chief Robert Thornton of New Mexico State Police also said his agency would assign 50 officers to help boost law enforcement's presence in the city.
The announcement came as police searched for 23-year-old Darian Bashir, who was identified in an arrest warrant as the man suspected of shooting UNM baseball player Jackson Weller.
Weller was gunned down last Saturday after leaving a bar in an area popular among college students. Less than two weeks earlier, a postal worker was killed on his daily route in an Albuquerque neighborhood.


The Latest: Virgin Galactic enters 'home stretch' of tests
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic is not setting a launch date yet for its first commercial space tourism flight as it begins moving 100 personnel, a rocket ship and launch-support vehicle to a spaceport facility in New Mexico.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said Friday that an interior cabin is being tested for commercial operations and that a small, undisclosed number of test flights are pending.
Pilots are among the personnel moving from California to begin acclimating to flying conditions above the high desert in southern New Mexico.
Whitesides says the company is in the "home stretch" toward its first commercial space flight and declined to specify deadlines.
He joined Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson in thanking New Mexico politicians and residents for their patience and taxpayer investments in the Spaceport America hangar and launch facility.
Branson envisions a future with hotels in space and near-space transcontinental flights but cautioned that "we need the financial impetus to do all that."


WWII-era Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye Sr. dies at 97
CHINLE, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has announced that World War II-era Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye Sr. has died.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says Begaye died Friday in Chinle, Arizona. He was 97.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
Begaye was among hundreds of Navajos who served in the Marine Corps, using a code based on their native language to outsmart the Japanese.
According to the Navajo Nation, Begaye served as a Code Talker from 1943 to 1945 and fought in the Battle of Tarawa and the Batter of Tinian. He spent a year in a naval hospital after being wounded.
Begaye later ran a general store in Chinle.
President Donald Trump honored Begaye and two other Navajo Code Talkers at the White House in November 2017.


The Latest: 500 migrants arrested in New Mexico in 24 hours
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Another 500 migrants have been taken into custody in less than 24 hours along the border in southern New Mexico.
The U.S. Border Patrol says a group of 218 migrants from Central America was spotted at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry after midnight Thursday. A second group of 302 people was reported before midnight just east of Mount Cristo Rey near Sunland Park.
The agency says the migrants were taken into custody and provided medically screening.
Authorities say the El Paso sector, which includes part of West Texas and all of New Mexico, documented over 1,700 apprehensions on Thursday.
Officials say this fiscal year to date the El Paso Sector has arrested more than 109,000 migrants, compared to over 14,000 during the same time last fiscal year.
Elected leaders in New Mexico's most populous county are pledging $100,000 in behavioral health tax revenues to help asylum-seekers as officials in southern New Mexico are seeking more volunteers to help with the ongoing surge of migrants.
More than 100 migrants were released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Las Cruces on Friday, and city officials say the influx is straining resources.
They put out a call late Thursday, saying the need for fresh volunteers and donations was urgent.
In less than a month, about 4,200 migrants have been served in Las Cruces.
In Bernalillo County, officials plan to use the tax money to fund services, classes and resources for young migrants and their parents as they wait in Albuquerque before leaving to meet sponsors elsewhere in the U.S.


Navajo activist celebrates attention given murdered women
PHOENIX (AP) — Debbie Nez-Manuel was 3 years old when her mother disappeared from their home on the Navajo Nation. She turned up dead a few weeks later about an hour's drive away in Gallup, New Mexico.
So Nez-Manuel was overjoyed more than four decades later when the Arizona House of Representatives agreed this week to study the problem of Native American women who have gone missing or been killed. She said it felts like an early Mother's Day present for her mom she never knew.
The national campaign to identify cases of Native American women and girls who have been killed or gone missing has gained momentum in recent months with a string of similar state and federal legislation, marches and a series of stories by The Associated Press.


Prosecutors want to meet victims of sex offender Epstein
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Federal prosecutors want to meet with once-underage victims of wealthy financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein before deciding whether to open up a non-prosecution agreement reached over a decade ago.
Prosecutors said in court filings Friday that victim input is essential in deciding how to proceed. The filings came after a Florida federal judge ruled prosecutors violated a victims' rights law by not disclosing the Epstein non-prosecution agreement.
Attorneys for two victims countered that prosecutors should first announce their proposed remedy for that violation.
Epstein's deal in 2008 with then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta's office ended a federal investigation. Epstein instead pleaded guilty to lesser state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid financial settlements to victims and is a registered sex offender.
Acosta is now U.S. labor secretary.


Regents approve $3B budget for University of New Mexico
(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The board of the University of New Mexico has approved a $3.1 billion budget for the next fiscal year.
The Albuquerque Journal reports regents approved Thursday consolidated budgets for the university's Health Sciences Center, branches and main campus for the fiscal year that begins in July.
The budget is about 7% higher than the current budget. It includes a faculty and staff raise of 3% and a tuition increase of about 3.1%.
According to budget documents, about $2.2 billion will be directed for the Health Sciences Center. It expects to get $531 million in Medicaid revenue, $407 million from commercial insurance and $317 million from Medicare.
About $884 million has been budgeted for the university's main campus. The university's athletics program will have a $32.3 million budget.