Detective Takes Stand In Police Shooting Trial, Martinez Wants To Expand Child Abuse Punishments

Sep 21, 2016

Detective Takes Stand In Trial For 2 OfficersThe Associated Press

An Albuquerque police detective who a year ago said a police standoff with a homeless man began to unravel when he held two knives and took a defensive stance has begun testifying in the trial of two officers charged in the man's shooting death.

The testimony from Detective Geoff Stone, who was the lead Albuquerque police detective in the 2014 officer-involved shooting death, got underway Wednesday.

A prosecutor asked him to describe for jurors the firearms, ammunition and police equipment that now-retired Detective Keith Sandy and Officer Dominique Perez had on them the day of the shooting.

Sandy and Perez are standing trial on second-degree murder charges in the death of homeless camper James Boyd, who was shot after an hours-long standoff that involved 19 officers.

A special prosecutor faults police for escalating the standoff.

Governor Wants To Expand Child Abuse PunishmentsThe Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says not a day goes by that she doesn't think of Baby Brianna, a 5-month-old who died in 2002 after being sexually assaulted and suffering skull fractures and numerous other injuries.

Martinez was a district attorney in Las Cruces at the time of the infant's death. She prosecuted the child's mother, father and an uncle.

The mother, Stephanie Rene Lopez, was released from prison Wednesday on good behavior after serving less than half of her sentence.

The governor said she had sought the full measure of justice at the time but that the laws on the books were too weak.

Public outcry over the case helped lead to a change in state law that provides for life imprisonment — a mandatory 30 years in prison — for child abuse resulting in death.

Martinez said Wednesday she will continue to push for state legislators to expand the law to cover every child, regardless of their age.

Cash-Strapped New Mexico Misses Out On Insurance TaxesThe Associated Press

A review of a tax on insurance premiums has found that New Mexico failed to collect at least $193 million over the past five years, even as the state struggles this year to close a major budget shortfall.

New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller said Tuesday that the unpaid taxes can still be recovered and are likely to far exceed $200 million based on a sampling.

Tax collections on health, property and other insurance premiums are overseen by a division of the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. Keller is criticizing the agency for relying too heavily on taxpayers and the honor system.

Insurance Superintendent John Franchini says a civil investigation is underway into companies that allegedly underreported premium tax obligations on a regular basis.

Albuquerque Leaders Want Police To Carry Anti-Overdose DrugThe Associated Press & KOAT

Some city councilors in Albuquerque are pushing for police to carry a drug that can prevent deadly opioid overdoses.

KOAT-TV reports that councilors Dan Lewis and Diane Gibson say they want officers to carry Naloxone, which blocks opiate receptors in the nervous system and counteracts opioid overdoses.

New Mexico is currently second in the nation when it comes to drug overdose deaths. The Department of Health says 490 people died from an overdose in the state last year.

Officers with Rio Rancho police, Santa Fe police and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office already carry the drug.

Lewis says Albuquerque officers are sometimes on the scene before paramedics and it could be helpful to have the access to the life-saving medicine. He says police can purchase the drug with grant money.

New Mexico Mother Of 'Baby Brianna' Released From PrisonThe Associated Press

A Las Cruces mother convicted in one of New Mexico's most horrific child abuse cases has been released after serving less than half her sentence for good behavior.

Stephanie Rene Lopez left prison on Wednesday as reporters watched her exit the Grants facility.

Lopez was sentenced to 27 years in 2003 for negligent child abuse resulting in death and child abuse after her daughter, known as Baby Brianna, died.

Brianna's father and uncle were also convicted.

Authorities say Brianna, who died in July 2002, had been sexually assaulted and suffered multiple injuries.

Public outcry led to state law now mandating 30 years in prison for child abuse resulting in death.

The Baby Brianna Foundation says it is saddened but the law cannot be enacted retroactively.

Feds Seek New Contractor For Cleanup Work At Los Alamos LabThe Associated Press

The federal government is making its final call for any contractors interested in continuing the cleanup of hazardous waste at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapon laboratories.

Officials have been struggling for decades to clean up hundreds of contaminated sites and remove thousands of cubic meters of waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory. A recent report indicates the work could take another 20 years and nearly $4 billion.

The current environmental management contract belongs to the lab's troubled manager, Los Alamos National Security LLC. That agreement expires in September 2017.

The request for proposals issued Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Department involves a 10-year contract worth about $1.7 billion. It calls for monitoring the region's aquifer, cleaning up contamination and preparing low-level radioactive waste to be shipped off-site.

Construction To Start On Albuquerque Route 66 Transit PlanAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Construction crews are set to start removing medians along the nation's longest Route 66 urban stretch to make way for an Albuquerque rapid transit route.

The Albuquerque Journal reports heavy construction will start Oct. 17 in the University of New Mexico and the historic Nob Hill areas.

The construction will likely create traffic jams in one of the city's busiest areas.

The $119 million project would create a nine-mile network of bus-only lanes and bus stations in the middle of Central Avenue, or Route 66.

Business owners say the project would spark traffic congestion and ruin the car-friendly persona of the largest urban stretch of Route 66 in the nation.

21 US States Sue To Block Expansion Of Overtime Pay LawAssociated Press

A coalition of 21 states, including New Mexico, is suing the U.S. Department of Labor over a new rule that would make more higher-earning workers eligible for overtime pay.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt filed the lawsuit in Texas on Tuesday, urging the court to block implementation before the regulation takes effect on Dec. 1.

The measure would shrink the so-called "white collar exemption" and more than double the salary threshold under which employers must pay overtime to their workers.

Laxalt said the rule would burden private and public sectors and represents inappropriate federal overreach.

Officials from the labor department didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other plaintiffs include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Martinez Eyes Death Penalty In Special SessionAssociated Press

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez says she will place reinstating the death penalty on the agenda for the pending special session to fix the state's budget.

The Republican said in a statement Tuesday that she wants the death penalty as an option for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers.

New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009 before Martinez took office by replacing provisions for lethal injection with a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Martinez previously indicated she would back legislation for capital punishment during the upcoming state legislative session in January.

The move comes as lawmakers are calling for a special session to address a half a billion dollar shortfall.

Albuquerque Police Dismantle A Fencing/Racketeering RingAssociated Press  

Police in Albuquerque say they've dismantled a fencing/racketeering ring that allegedly stole more than $200,000 of merchandise in the last six months.

They say detectives in the Organized Crime Unit completed a long-term investigation Monday.

Police say the racketeering operation allegedly stole items from the Sears store at the Cottonwood Mall.

Two of the suspects worked for Sears and were assisted by others in selling the items online.

Police say two men and one woman are in custody and an arrest warrant issued for another woman in the case.

Detectives expect to make additional arrests and still are attempting to locate and recover the stolen property.

Albuquerque Leaders Promote Solar PowerKOB-TV, Associated Press

Albuquerque leaders have approved a resolution calling for the city to rely more on solar energy.

KOB-TV reports that the resolution sets a goal of generating a quarter of the energy for city facilities through solar power by 2025.

It states that the city recognizes the environmental health, public health and economic benefits of solar energy.

City Councilor Pat Davis says the city currently spends millions of dollars a year on energy and less than 3 percent of it comes from renewable sources. He says the council commissioned a study on the issue last spring and discovered that the panels could be installed on nearly 40 city-owned buildings for $45 million.

He estimated that doing so would save taxpayers about $3 million a year.

Chronic Wasting Disease Found In Mcgregor Range DeerAssociated Press  

Wildlife officials say five deer harvested in the McGregor Range area of southern New Mexico during the last hunting season have tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The state Department of Game and Fish made the announcement Tuesday.

First discovered in New Mexico in 2002, chronic wasting disease has only been found in the state's southern hunting units. To date, 42 deer and eight elk have tested positive.

The neurological disease is found in deer, elk and moose. Known to be fatal in these species, it attacks the brains of infected animals.

It's recommended that hunters avoid eating meat from animals that appear sick or that have tested positive. However, officials say no known transmission to humans has been documented through the consumption of meat from an infected animal.

Independent Feature 'Making A Killing' To Film In New MexicoAssociated Press  

The independent feature "Making a Killing" is filming in northern New Mexico.

State Film Office Director Nick Maniatis says principal photography is expected to continue through the end of October in Las Vegas and nearby Montezuma.

The film is being produced by CanAmPac3, LLC. The project will employ 20 New Mexico crew members, 15 local principal actors and 30 background talent.

Starring Christopher Lloyd, Michael Jai White and Sally Kirkland, the story follows a special investigator who is assigned to a murder in a Southwestern town and soon finds that underneath the surface is a foundation of lies and greed.

Las Vegas Mayor Tonita Gurulé-Girón says she's pleased to welcome the film team and that her community makes for an amazing destination for those who love film.