Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Oct 8, 2019

Court battle looms over land leased to Jeffrey EpsteinSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A court battle is brewing over public grazing leases that New Mexico officials believe were used to help shield a remote desert ranch owned by financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of abusing young women there before he died behind bars.State Land Office General Counsel Ari Biernoff said Monday that the state will defend in court its right to terminate two leases to a company previously controlled by Epstein.Cypress Inc. attorneys say the company subleased the state parcels to a local ranching family for years and complied with lease terms.Cypress is asking a state district court in Santa Fe intervene and preserve the leases.A portion of Epstein's Zorro Ranch in central New Mexico extends across state trust land, under the grazing contracts with Cypress.


New Mexico adds plug-in vehicles to core government fleetSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A major oil producing state is poised to add plug-in electric cars to its core fleet of government vehicles for the first time.New Mexico's General Service Department announced Monday announced a price agreement with auto dealers as it prepares to spend at least $1 million on plug-in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by mid-2020.The agency oversees a fleet of about 2,000 government vehicles for a long list of executive agencies.Lawmakers set aside an additional $1.5 million for car-charging infrastructure.Electric vehicles can reduce climate pollution from transportation, especially as utilities seek cleaner ways to generate electricity.Local governments can take advantage of state's price agreement. General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz described plug-in vehicles as an important tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Teen facing charges in 2018 slayings of 2 near Rio RanchoALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a teenage boy is facing charges in the slayings of two of his friends near Rio Rancho last year.The name of the 15-year-old suspect isn't being released by The Associated Press because he's a juvenile.Prosecutors say the teen is accused of two counts of murder, three counts of tampering with evidence, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of armed robbery.It was unclear Monday if he's been arrested yet.Authorities say 14-year-old Ahmed Lateef and 15-year-old Collin Romero were reported missing last Dec. 16 after allegedly being kidnapped from a home in the Northeast Heights.Their bodies were a few weeks later buried in shallow graves in the mesa northwest of Rio Rancho.Authorities say the two teens had been shot, beaten and stabbed.


Clovis prep football coach accused of stealing from a playerGALLUP, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Police say a high school football coach has been arrested for allegedly stealing money from one of his players.They say 42-year-old John Roanhoaus of Clovis was arrested Saturday and booked into the McKinley County Detention Center in Gallup on suspicion of burglary and larceny.State Police say they were notified of a burglary Wednesday at Miyamura High School in Gallup.Officers viewed video evidence that police say showed a man entering the school's locker room and taking money from a football player's wallet.They say the man was identified as Roanhoaus, who is the head football coach at Miyamura and an arrested warrant was issued Friday.It was unclear Monday if Roanhoaus has a lawyer yet for his case.


US official: Research finds uranium in Navajo women, babiesALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials say federal research shows that about a quarter of Navajo women who participated in a study of uranium exposure had high levels of the radioactive metal in their systems.Dr. Loretta Christensen, the chief medical officer for Indian Health Service facilities that serve the Navajo Nation, cited the research at a congressional field hearing in Albuquerque.The Monday hearing centered on the atomic age's legacy on Native American communities. Cleanup of abandoned uranium mines continues decades after they closed.Christensen says the research also shows some babies born in recent years had high concentrations of uranium. She says research is ongoing.U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, says Native Americans were disproportionately affected by uranium mining and nuclear testing for Cold War weaponry.


Hot air balloon pilot, passenger injured amid hard landingsALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Several hot air balloon travelers received medical treatment after two hard landings at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.Fiesta spokesman Tom Garrity said that a hard landing northwest of Albuquerque on Monday morning resulted in a fire and that the pilot and a passenger were hospitalized with injuries.He says several public safety agencies are investigating. Local and state law enforcement officials had no further information.Separately, a balloon passenger with a pre-existing medical condition received treatment at the balloon launch site after a hard landing on the field.Another balloon landed with its fabric draped over a utility line in Albuquerque's North Valley without injuries or damage.The annual balloon fiesta draws pilots from around the world and from more than 40 U.S. states.


Age, health spur New Mexico lawmaker to pass on re-election(Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.santafenewmexican.com)SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Rep. Jim Trujillo will not be seeking re-election next year.The Santa Fe Democrat told the Santa Fe New Mexican on Sunday that it's time for him to cede to a younger candidate.Trujillo said he will be 81 years old by next year's primary election.Health issues also contributed to his decision. He suffered a stroke in 2017.Trujillo first became a lawmaker when he was appointed to the seat in 2003 after Rep. Patsy Trujillo, who is no relation, went to work for Gov. Bill Richardson.He was elected to the position in 2004. Since then, Trujillo has easily won every election with no opposition.___


El Paso judge on leave after DWI arrest in Santa Fe(Information from: KRQE-TV, http://www.krqe.com)SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An El Paso judge has been arrested for driving while intoxicated in Santa Fe.KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reported Sunday that El Paso Magistrate Judge Ray Gutierrez was detained last month at the Sant Fe Opera after his car hit another vehicle.According to a criminal complaint, Gutierrez failed a sobriety test with Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies.His blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.Gutierrez admitted to deputies that he had had five wine samples at the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta.Deputies also arrested him for carrying a gun inside a licensed liquor establishment.He has since been released from the Santa Fe County Detention Center.A spokesperson with the Council of Judges in El Paso says he is on leave pending an investigation.___