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

Oct 30, 2019

Convicted felon gets 4 years for stealing $20 in burglary(Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com)GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A convicted felon who admitted to breaking into a western New Mexico business and stealing less than $20 has been sentenced to four years in prison.The Gallup Independent reports Chad Gonzales was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to non-residential burglary and confessing that he stole $18.90.Authorities located Gonzales through DNA samples after he cut himself during the break-in.The 37-year-old Gonzales entered into the repeat offender plea agreement, admitting that he was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in February 2012 and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in February 2015.Under the plea agreement, the prosecution dropped charges of larceny and criminal damage to property.___


Standard & Poor's downgrades UNM's credit ratingALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico's long-term credit rating has downgraded amid reductions in state funding and enrollment declines.Standard & Poor's Financial Service recently reduced the university's long-term rating by one level, from "AA" to "AA-." But S&P also revised the school's rating outlook from negative to stable.The S&P ratings reflect an institution's ability to repay long-term debt. It's also based on financial data for multiple fiscal years, including the fiscal year ending in 2019.S&P said in a report the university's rating could improve if enrollment grows and debt and financial resources improve further.Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Teresa Costantinidis says the University of New Mexico still has the highest rating of any higher education institution in the state.


Secretary of state quits 2020 Democratic bid for US SenateSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's secretary of state says she won't pursue the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, clearing a path for Rep. Ben Ray Luján as the party's candidate in 2020.Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday announced in an email the end of her campaign and endorsed Luján's campaign to succeed retiring two-term Sen. Tom Udall.Luján is the No. 4 Democrat in House leadership and has served six terms representing northern New Mexico. Two candidates who lost statewide election bids in 2018 are vying for the Republican nomination.Toulouse Oliver cut a progressive profile in her short-lived Senate campaign. The former county clerk called for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and rejected campaign cash from corporate PACs. Those positions later became part of Luján's platform.


New Mexico wants linguistic, cultural training for teachersSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state education officials want public schools to become more attuned to the culture and linguistics of a heavily Hispanic and Native American population, as they outline priorities for the next school year.Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart on Tuesday told a panel of state lawmakers that his agency hopes to better equip teachers to inspire children from households where an indigenous or foreign language is spoken.He says that teaching tribal languages in the classroom can help Navajo children communicate with elders. He says text books have to be created from scratch to teach some indigenous languages that aren't widely spoken.Lawmakers recently increased spending on teacher salaries, at-risk students and incentives to extend annual classroom hours by up to 20 percent.


New Mexico man sentenced to 25 years for family slayingsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico state district judge has sentenced Nicholas Ortiz to 25 years in prison for killing three members of an El Rancho family eight years ago.State District Judge Francis Mathew sentenced the 24-year-old man Monday after he was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.Authorities say Ortiz would be required to serve 85% of his sentence after getting credit for time served since his February 2015 arrest.Authorities say Nicholas Ortiz killed Lloyd Ortiz, Dixie Ortiz and Steven Ortiz in their home in June 2011 with a large pickax.Nicholas Ortiz, who is not related to the family, was 16-year-old at the time.Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Padgett declined to comment.Authorities say Nicholas Ortiz could appeal but there was no discussion about whether he would.


Project to fill defunct brine well facing $9M shortfallCARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A project aiming to stop a defunct brine well in southeastern New Mexico from collapsing is facing an estimated $9 million shortfall.The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports New Mexico Energy Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said last week the anticipated budget shortfall for the remediation of the Carlsbad Brine Well is $8.9 million. She says the cost of the project rose during the engineering and design work.The project, which would fill a 400-foot (122-meter) underground cavity below the intersection of U.S Highways 285 and 62/180, was first estimated to cost $43 million.A collapse could interrupt a main thoroughfare for New Mexico's oil industry while also damaging the Carlsbad Irrigation District and train tracks.Experts say a collapse could cost as much as $1 billion in damages, litigation and loss of life.


Judge withdraws from consideration for District Court seat(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge has removed his name from consideration for a U.S. District Court seat in New Mexico after the state's two Democratic senators withdrew their support.The Albuquerque Journal reports that Magistrate Judge Kevin Sweazea announced the decision in a letter to the White House last week.Sweazea says U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich withdrew their support despite having submitted his name to President Donald Trump as a potential nominee.Staff members for both Udall and Heinrich said Sweazea's confirmation would face serious hurdles in the Senate and that they are working to find other qualified candidates.Sweazea says the two-year process also "adversely affected" his willingness to take on the job, instead he plans to continue as a magistrate judge.___This story has been corrected to reflect that the senators are federal lawmakers.___


Former New Mexico officer in DWI wants 911 call thrown out(Information from: KRQE-TV, http://www.krqe.com)ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A former New Mexico State Police officer charged with drunken driving wants a 911 call related to her arrest tossed out.KRQE-TV reports an attorney for Jessica Turner said in recently filed court documents the 911 caller is unreliable because he never left his name, and incorrectly identified Turner as a man.Otero County deputies say they found Turner slumped over the wheel in February 2018 after receiving a call about a truck on Highway 82. The caller told police the driver almost hit him.A police report says there was a smell of alcohol in the truck and she performed poorly on a sobriety test.She resigned from New Mexico State Police a few months later.___