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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

May 18, 2020
  • Loosened restrictions, mask edict take effect in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The loosening of some restrictions imposed on nonessential businesses by New Mexico's governor to slow the coronavirus outbreak's spread took effect Saturday, along with a new edict that people wear masks in public under most circumstances. State officials reported six additional deaths from the outbreak and 185 additional COVID-19 cases. The loosening of restrictions that took effect Saturday applied to most of the state but not in the northwest region, where much of he outbreak is centered. Under the loosening, retailers and many services along with houses of worship could reopen at limited capacity. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered that face masks be worn in public except with exceptions that included eating, drinking and exercising.

  • Guitarist Jorge Santana, brother of Carlos, dies at 68

Guitarist Jorge Santana, the younger brother Carlos Santana and whose his guitar riffs on the band Malo's 1972 hit "Suavecito" became a Chicano anthem, has died. Carlos Santana announced on this Facebook page Friday that his brother died. He was 68. The family says he died Thursday of natural causes. Born in in Jalisco, Mexico, Jorge Santana began playing guitar following his brother's footsteps. He joined a San Francisco-based band that would later become Malo, which means "bad" in Spanish. Their 1972 hit "Suavecito" became a staple for Mexican American cookouts, weddings and quinceaneras for generations throughout the American Southwest. Santana later played with the New York-based salsa collective Fania All-Stars. 

  • Police seize New Mexico sheriff's phones in obstruction case

ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (AP) — Police have seized cellphones of a New Mexico sheriff accused of showing up drunk to a SWAT standoff. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Española Police Department executed a search warrant Thursday at the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office for the personal and work cellphones of Sheriff James Lujan. The search warrants are part of an investigation into a misdemeanor charge filed against Lujan by Española police for resisting, evading or obstructing an officer. Police say officers reported Lujan smelled of alcohol and ignored commands to leave the "kill zone" in front of the barricaded house in March.

  • Small free libraries offering solace amid virus shutdowns

As government orders shuttered public libraries to slow the spread of coronavirus, some have turned to official and unofficial book-sharing means to satisfy their desire for new reading material. In California's Yosemite Valley, a resident carts around donated books in the back of her car to serve as a mobile library. In Arizona, a teacher with a bookshelf she built in her yard says she's seen its use skyrocket. Little Free Library nonprofit executive director Greig Metzger says volunteers are reporting a jump in free small library usage. He says some people even are using the spaces to pass out canned goods and masks.

  • Police: New Mexico woman slashed tires of ex-boyfriend's dad

ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman is facing charges after police say she slashed the tires of her ex-boyfriend's father in a possible fit of revenge. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Natasha Atkinson was arrested Wednesday following reports of the tire slashing and an attempted stabbing last month. According to a criminal complaint, an eyewitness reported seeing the 38-year-old Atkinson crouching near the victim's passenger-side tires and slashing them. The complaint says the eyewitness told police he saw the victim confront Atkinson after the slashing. She was charged with injuring or tampering with a motor vehicle and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It was not known if she had an attorney.

  • Genetic analysis helps police make arrest in Santa Fe death

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe police say genetic analysis of DNA evidence from the 2018 fatal shooting of a man in his backyard helped crack the case. Police said they arrested 26-year-old Joseph Jones in the killing of 52-year-old Robert Romero, who was believed to have gotten into altercation with an assailant who then fled. Police initially had no suspect or motive but investigators then submitted the DNA sample to a lab that created a genetic genealogy analysis that led to three possible matches. Deputy Police Chief Paul Joye said investigators then investigated further and identified Jones as a suspect. Online court records didn't list a defense attorney for Jones who could comment on the allegations.

  • New Mexico to get $5.5 million for affordable housing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding public housing authorities across New Mexico more than $5.5 million in grants. The funding will be aimed at increasing access to affordable housing amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state's congressional delegation announced the funding Friday, saying it's part of the relief package approved by Congress. New Mexico previously was awarded more than $16.7 million in HUD grants. Democrat Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small says the grants come at a critical time as thousands of New Mexicans are facing reduced work hours, layoffs and increased economic uncertainty and state and local budgets are strained.

  • Federal contract awarded to repair northern New Mexico dam

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a contract to a Virginia-based company to repair a dam along the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico. The agency announced Friday that the two-phased contract with CARPI USA Inc. is worth up to $16.7 million. A study determined that El Vado Dam needed to be modified and repaired to reduce seepage and erosion. Repairs will include the installation of a liner on the upstream face of the dam. A separate contract will be awarded later for replacement of the spillway. Water stored at El Vado is used to meet the needs of several Native American communities.