Jury Selection Begins For Ex-Officers, Navajo Officials Move Toward Tribal Amber Alert System

Sep 12, 2016

Jury Selection Begins In Trial For 2 OfficersThe Associated Press

An attorney prosecuting two former police officers charged with second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting of a homeless man has asked potential jurors with law enforcement ties whether they could be fair and impartial in deciding the case.

Opening statements and testimony in the trial for now-retired Detective Keith Sandy and former Officer Dominique Perez are scheduled to get underway next week. Jury selection in the case began today.

In her opening remarks to prospective jurors, special prosecutor Randi McGinn said the issue of shootings by police has become "one of the most polarizing issues of our time."

The court faces the challenge of seating an impartial jury in a case that received extensive media attention when 38-year-old James Boyd was fatally shot two years ago following a hillside standoff with more than a dozen officers.

Navajo Officials Move Toward Tribal Amber Alert SystemThe Associated Press & The Farmington Daily Times

Navajo Nation leaders are in talks with the U.S. government to establish an emergency alert system across the 27,000-square-mile reservation.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that Coordinator Harlan Cleveland says tribal government officials and the U.S. Department of Justice are considering establishing the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System on tribal land.

The program is a federal alert system created in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Cleveland says the Navajo Nation would have to sign an agreement with the DOJ before the federal system could be implemented.

The talks come after residents raised concerns about the Amber Alert system after the May 2 disappearance of an 11-year-old girl and her 9-year-old brother. The girl was found dead the next day. The boy returned to his family.

New Mexico Governor Appoints New Environment SecretaryThe Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed a longtime employee of the state Environment Department to serve as the agency's new leader.

Butch Tongate's appointment was announced Monday. He replaces Ryan Flynn, who resigned earlier this summer to take a job with an oil and gas industry group.

Tongate's career with the agency has spanned more than two decades. He served as chief of the Solid Waste Bureau and director of the Environmental Protection Division. Most recently, he worked as deputy secretary.

Martinez says Tongate's breadth of experience is an asset.

The department is in the midst of a legal battle with the federal government and the state of Colorado over the handling of a massive mine waste spill in 2015 that tainted rivers New Mexico and other states.

Judge Vacates Nov. Retrial For Man Accused Of Fellow DeputyThe Associated Press

A district court judge in Las Cruces has postponed the retrial of a former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy accused of killing a fellow deputy in 2014.

The original retrial of Tai Chan had been set for Nov. 28.

A judge Monday granted a stipulation motion to vacate the November date, but didn't set a new retrial date.

Prosecutors are seeking to have the retrial in February.

Chan's first trial ended in a mistrial in June.

He had been charged with first-degree murder in fellow deputy Jeremy Martin's death.

The two 29-year-old deputies were in Las Cruces the night of the shooting in October 2014, staying at a hotel after transporting prisoners to Arizona.

Martin died of his injuries at a hospital. Chan's attorneys say the shooting was in self-defense.

Transmission Problems Blame For New Mexico Power OutagesThe Associated Press

New Mexico's largest electric provider says it has restored power to thousands of customers following multiple outages throughout central New Mexico.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico had reported outages from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and south toward Belen on Monday afternoon. Residential and business customers were affected.

The utility company said on its social media pages that it was having transmission problems and that the cause was still under investigation.

PNM customers have experienced a number of outages in recent weeks.

More than 3,000 customers in the Albuquerque area had their power go out Monday evening. In early August, lightning was to blame for a major outage in parts of central New Mexico.

FBI: Item Posed No Threat At Albuquerque AirportAssociated Press

The FBI says that there was "no public safety threat" connected to a suspicious item found at an Albuquerque airport.

The discovery of the item Sunday afternoon led to evacuations at the airport.

Albuquerque International Sunport spokesman Daniel Jiron said earlier that a team of police bomb techs cleared the item, and the security checkpoint area and passengers were allowed back around 3:30 p.m.

Sunday night, the FBI released the brief statement saying that there was no threat. But neither the agency nor the airport provided information on what the item was.

Jiron says the it raised suspicion and police were called around 1:45 p.m.

Officers evacuated the checkpoint as a precaution.

Arriving passengers were held in a concourse area while departing passengers were not allowed near the checkpoint.

Jiron says roughly six flights were delayed as a result of the incident.

Balloon Fiesta Landings Off Limits In Sandia PuebloAssociated Press

New flying restrictions in Sandia Pueblo are leaving some pilots participating in next month's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta deflated.

In video released Saturday detailing this year's event rules, organizers announced Sandia Pueblo will be off limits for balloon landings.

The reservation has been labeled a 40-square-mile "red zone," meaning balloons that fly over it must remain between 200 and 500 feet above ground level.

Sandia Pueblo is next to Balloon Fiesta Park, where the event is situated.

Some pilots are already expressing concern that wind and other factors could make it difficult to abide by the restrictions.

Organizers say Sandia Pueblo allowed landings under certain conditions in previous years but they could not reach an agreement this year.

Pueblo officials did not immediately return a message Sunday seeking comment.

Outcry For Death Penalty Collides With Navajo Nation Beliefs Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The Navajo Nation's opposition to capital punishment is in the spotlight following recent outcry for New Mexico to reinstate it in cases of child killings.

The mother of an 11-year-old Navajo girl abducted and killed in Shiprock has started an online petition demanding the tribe allow the death penalty.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Pamela Foster says opposing the death penalty allows for horrendous acts of violence against the tribe's children to continue. The petition has nearly 400 signatures.

Authorities say a Navajo man lured Ashlynne Mike into his van May 2, and her body was found the next day.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye says he supports the Major Crimes Act, which allows tribes to accept or reject a death sentence in prosecutions under federal jurisdiction.

New Mexico Water Officials Eye Pipeline To Colorado Lake Daily Times, Associated Press

A water commission is eyeing a possible pipeline from a Colorado lake to northern New Mexico.

The Daily Times reports San Juan Water Commission members will meet in October to weigh having the pipeline designed at an estimated cost of $10,000 to $15,000.

Further study could cost up to $250,000.

Lake Nighthorse in southern Colorado is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The man-made lake is fed by the Animas River.

Water has not been pumped from the reservoir in 2016 over concerns related to last year's Gold King Mine wastewater spill.

Future lake recreation could lead to invasive species that may impact a pipeline

Commission director Aaron Chavez says Lake Nighthorse was originally intended for drought relief.

Commissioner Jim Dunlap said the project would be expensive.

Hundreds Honor Slain Alamogordo Police OfficerLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral service of a New Mexico police officer who was shot and killed last week.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported members of the Alamogordo Police Department were joined by representatives of law enforcement agencies from around the nation, Gov. Susana Martinez and Alamogordo residents Saturday at the campus of New Mexico State University-Alamogordo to honor Clint Corvinus.

Martinez lauded Corvinus for his bravery and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce said the large crowd of mourners shows New Mexicans respect law enforcement.

Alamogordo Police say Corvinus, who was 33, was shot on Sept. 2 during a foot chase by a man with three active arrest warrants.

Police say another officer shot and killed the suspect during the chase.

Corvinus is survived by his parents, a girlfriend and daughter.

Marijuana Plant Display Cut From New Mexico State FairAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

One display at the New Mexico State Fair has gone to pot.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a display that included at least one live cannabis plant was yanked from the fair Thursday.

State health officials say grower Ultra Health didn't have the authority to display cannabis plants publicly.

Fair managers say they somehow overlooked the mention of a cannabis plant in the booth application submitted by Ultra Health.

Owner Duke Rodriguez says he included a graphic depiction in his application that showed any plants would be on view in a secure area.

Fair spokeswoman Erin Thompson says Rodriguez will get his $2,000 booth fee refunded.

State Department of Health officials are looking into whether displaying the plant publicly was a violation of law.

Gov. Martinez: 'More Items' May Be Added To Special SessionAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is signally she may add "more items" to a looming special session on the state's budget crisis.

Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan said Friday the Republican governor may seek to have "key issues addressed" if Senate Democrats want a lengthy session. But Lonergan did not say what legislative items Martinez would include.

In recently weeks, the Republican governor has called for the return of the death penalty in New Mexico and has repeated her demand for stronger anti-drunken driving penalties.

Jim Farrell, a spokesman for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, said Senate Democrats would not respond to the governor's latest suggestion.

Democratic New Mexico lawmakers say Martinez hasn't offered a plan to fill the state's budget hole.

Martinez has promised to call a special legislative session once lawmakers have concrete proposals.