Man Shoots Police Robot During Standoff, Republican Propose Fix For NM State Budget

May 16, 2017

Man Shoots, Damages Police Robot During StandoffThe Associated Press

Albuquerque police say a man shot and damaged one of their robots during a SWAT situation.

Police spokesman Officer Fred Duran says authorities first arrived at the home on Albuquerque's northwest side Tuesday morning to arrest the man on a felony warrant.

The suspect opened fire as police sent in the robot. No one was injured and the man was taken into custody hours later after officers fired gas into the home.

Authorities have not identified the man but confirmed he had been under investigation for some time.

Duran says other people were also detained but it wasn't clear if they will face any charges.

The SWAT situation forced roads in the area to be shut down while police negotiated with the suspect.

Republicans Propose Fix For New Mexico State BudgetThe Associated Press

Republicans in the New Mexico House of Representatives want to use money from pensions and construction projects to shore up state spending and resolve a budget crisis.

GOP House minority leader Nate Gentry on Tuesday announced a plan to restore vetoed funding to the Legislature and state universities for the coming fiscal year by suspending capital outlay projects.

The proposal also would claw back retirement funds set aside for the state's unsalaried legislators to help bridge a projected $70 million deficit.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has called a special legislative session next week to resolve a feud with the Democratic-led Legislature over how to solve the state's budget crisis. Martinez is signaling support for a House Republican plan that slightly increases spending on student aid and a university cancer center.

AG Balderas Won't Be Entering Race For New Mexico GovernorThe Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas will not be entering the race for governor and instead will focus on his re-election as the state's top prosecutor.

The Democrat ended the speculation Tuesday with a statement that detailed the work his office has done — from pursuing internet criminals who target children to recovering Medicaid fraud dollars.

Balderas also said his office has a responsibility to hold the federal government accountable. He pointed to recent filings against President Donald Trump's travel ban and the sale of federal coal leases.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is limited to two terms. No Republican has entered the race, though U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce says he may pursue the GOP nomination.

The Democratic nomination is being sought by Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, former media executive Jeff Apodaca and Peter DeBenedittis of Santa Fe.

New Mexico Gains Foster Parents But Demand ContinuesThe Associated Press

The number of certified foster families in New Mexico has grown by more than 20 percent over the last two years, but state officials say there's still more that needs to be done to meet demand.

Children, Youth and Families Secretary Monique Jacobson says New Mexico has nearly 1,300 foster families. That includes full-time foster parents and those available for emergency situations.

May marks foster parent appreciation month throughout the country, and child welfare officials are pushing in New Mexico to raise awareness of the continued need.

State data shows the number of children taken into custody has climbed over the last few years to more than 2,600.

Jacobson says the focus has been on retaining current foster parents by boosting support services and on helping those who are interested to navigate the rigorous certification process.

Omitted Statements Complicate Deputy's Murder RetrialThe Associated Press

An audio recording transcript that omits statements has sparked controversy during the sixth day of a high-profile murder retrial.

The recording had taken place soon after a former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a fellow deputy.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that by the end of Monday, 30-year-old Tai Chan's attorneys had asked for a full dismissal of the case based on "prosecutorial misconduct." The judge, however, declined dismissal.

Chan had been charged with first-degree murder for the October 2014 shooting death of 29-year-old Jeremy Martin. His attorneys have argued the shooting was self-defense. A deadlocked jury last year forced a mistrial.

Chan's attorneys say some of the audio omitted from the transcript included statements made by Chan that Martin attempted to kill him.

Survivors Of Fatal Crash Say They Were DrinkingAlbuquerque Journal

The passengers in a truck that hit an SUV last Friday, killing a family of four, said they had been drinking.

The Albuquerque Journal reported the passengers told authorities they were drinking prior to the crash on U.S. 550, but it was not clear if the driver, Paul Ortega was also drinking. Ortega died in the crash and toxicology reports are pending.

The crash happened about 15 miles outside Cuba and caused the SUV to burst into flames. The family inside included parents Jimmie and Melissa Crawford of Aztec and their children Chace and Grant, ages 2 and 4. That’s according to friends and family of the victims.

The Journal reported Ortega was accused of drunk driving in 2012, but that charge was dismissed in a plea deal.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Jimmie Crawford was a retired firefighter and Melissa Crawford a stay-at-home mom. The family was enroute to Albuquerque for a youth soccer tournament.

Santa Fe Progressive Launches Run For New Mexico GovernorAssociated Press

Alcohol-prevention teacher Peter DeBenedittis of Santa Fe is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for governor of New Mexico.

DeBenedittis formally announced his candidacy Monday, describing himself as a progressive Democrat and political outsider who does not owe favors to past political contributors.

A New Mexico resident since 1995, DeBenedittis wants to pursue policies that expand early childhood education and provide universal health insurance coverage, while increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. He has not previously run for public office.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a third term in 2018. The Democratic nomination also is being sought by businessman Jeff Apodaca and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

No Republican has entered the race, though U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce says he may pursue the GOP nomination.

New Mexico Marijuana Enrollment Above 40,000 PatientsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The medical marijuana industry in New Mexico has grown substantially since being organized in 2007.

The Albuquerque Journal reports about 8,000 New Mexico residents have obtained a medical marijuana license since Jan. 1, which brings the statewide total to more than 40,000 patients. The amount of patients has increased by 84 percent since March 2016.

The number of dispensaries has also increased. The statewide total is at 56 after being at just 36 in January 2016.

New Mexico Department of Health data also shows first quarter sales this year topped $19 million, up 91 percent throughout the same period in 2016.

State Rep. Bill Rehm says he thinks the system is being abused. But R. Greenleaf & Associates Director Willie Ford says while that might be true, most people are using the system for legitimate medical conditions.

Man Accused Of Holding Family At Gunpoint Over Bird DisputeAssociated Press

A Bernalillo County man is facing child abuse and aggravated assault charges for holding a family at gunpoint because he believed they had shot and killed a federally protected bird.

Carlos Proffit remained jailed Monday on a $25,000 bond. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

The incident happened Saturday on the Pajarito Mesa southwest of Albuquerque. Proffit told deputies he saw the family shoot at a red-tailed hawk and admitted to keeping them there at gunpoint until authorities arrived.

In a criminal complaint, deputies say they observed one of the children holding what appeared to be a shotgun. The father said the family was attempting to get a closer look at the bird when Proffit drove up and pulled a gun on them.

Authorities did not say if the bird was actually harmed.

Conviction In Scheme To Smuggle Drugs Into Curry County JailAssociated Press

Prosecutors say a 42-year-old Clovis man faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on convictions stemming from a scheme to smuggle drugs into the Curry County jail.

A jury in Clovis convicted Bernardo Baca on Friday of trafficking controlled substances, distribution of marijuana, tampering with evidence and resisting arrest.

Prosecutors say a package containing methamphetamine and marijuana was found in an alley near the jail and that jurors heard phone calls between Baca and his girlfriend indicating they schemed to get the drugs into the jail.

According to prosecutors, the girlfriend was jailed at the time and the drugs were originally placed in a place where she could pick them up when she went outside for recreation.

Baca is currently serving sentences on prior drug convictions.

Justices Reject Appeal Of Student Arrested For BurpingAssociated Press

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a New Mexico mother's appeal over her son's arrest for disrupting his seventh grade gym class with fake burps.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the police officer who arrested the boy in 2011 was immune from liability.

The appeals court's ruling drew a sharp dissent from then-Judge Neil Gorsuch just six months before he was picked for the Supreme Court vacancy.

The mother featured Gorsuch's dissent prominently in her appeal to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch said arresting a "class clown" for burping was going "a step too far."

Justices typically are recused from cases they heard before joining the court, and Gorsuch had no role in considering the case when it came before the high court.

Forecasters Warn Of Dry, Windy Weather In New MexicoAssociated Press

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are warning about increased fire danger in New Mexico thanks to more dry and windy conditions.

A red-flag warning will be in effect Tuesday from noon until the evening hours for the northeast and east-central plains.

Forecasters say a low-pressure system racing from Southern California toward New Mexico is expected to reach the state late Tuesday.

Ahead of the system will be strong winds and very dry air that will combine for critical fire weather across much of the central and southern parts of New Mexico. The winds are expected to shift further to the east later Tuesday.

Officials say any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly, and outdoor burning is being discouraged.

Doña Ana Community College To Close Hatch Campus – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Doña Ana Community College is blaming stagnant enrollment and budget constraints for the decision to close a satellite campus in the southern New Mexico community of Hatch.

School officials said Monday that the campus will close next month.

Doña Ana Community College President Renay Scott said in a statement that the recession and resulting market declines have negatively impacted overall enrollment and use of the learning center in Hatch.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the branch campus taught three in-house courses per semester and served 42 regular students and 16 English-as-a-Second-Language students in the recent spring semester.

In addition to its Hatch campus, the community college operates learning centers in Sunland Park, Anthony and Chaparral. It is part of the New Mexico State University system.