Monday News Roundup: Court Overturns Mentally Disabled Man's Conviction

May 12, 2014

Court Overturns Mentally Disabled Man's Conviction The Associated Press

A federal appeals court has overturned a Navajo Nation resident's conviction in a sex-crime case, ruling that his confession to law enforcement agents was involuntary and shouldn't have been used during his trial.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Tymond Preston's severe intellectual impairment and police tactics that included repetitive questioning and threats for the interrogation to continue without end overwhelmed his will and made his statements involuntary.

However, the ruling also said there's enough other evidence to warrant another trial for Preston in the 2009 case.

Preston was sentenced to four years in prison, and the federal Bureau of Prisons web site says he was released April 4.

Preston's appellate lawyer, Keith Swisher, did not immediately return a call for comment on what happens next.

Official: 2,700-Acre Fire Spreads Near Silver City – The Associated Press

A Gila National Forest official says a 27-hundred-acre fire near Silver City has grown rapidly and has forced some evacuations.

Forest spokeswoman Punky Moore says structures are threatened, and some ranches, a campground and a lookout were evacuated Sunday afternoon about 15 miles north of Silver City. She didn't know how many people or properties were affected.

She says 100 firefighters, three air tankers and four helicopters are battling the blaze. A cause has not yet been determined.

She says winds and dry vegetation are feeding the fire, and there’s still potential for it to spread.

She says a Type 2 team will join the fight Monday, which brings additional people to help when the fire's complexity and potential to grow exceeds the capabilities of local units.

Albuquerque City Council Protest Lawsuit Eyed The Associated Press

Demonstrators removed from an Albuquerque city council meeting for holding a silent protest over police shootings say they are preparing to file a free speech lawsuit.

Protest organizer David Correia told The Associated Press that he and three other demonstrators who received citations banning them from City Hall for 90 days are meeting with American Civil Liberties Union lawyers on Monday.

On Thursday, protesters were escorted out by police after they refused to speak at the podium and turned their backs to Albuquerque councilors because of new rule changes they say limit free speech.

Councilors adopted stricter rules on public comments following a rowdy meeting earlier in the week where demonstrators packed the chambers, demanded that Police Chief Gorden Eden face a citizen's arrest and forced councilors to adjourn.

Gov. Susana Martinez's Campaign Raises $561,000The Associated PressRepublican Gov. Susana Martinez maintains a large fundraising advantage over the five Democrats seeking to challenge her in the November general election.

Martinez's campaign on Monday reported raising $561,000 in the past month and cash-on-hand of $4.2 million.

Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber is the leading Democratic fundraiser with about $115,700 in contributions, followed by Lawrence Rael with $58,000; Howie Morales, $22,000; Attorney General Gary King, $12,300; and Linda Lopez with $10,200.

The winner of the June 3 Democratic primary will face Martinez in November.

Webber reported cash-on-hand of nearly $455,900 as of last week. Rael had nearly $209,600, followed by $48,300 for King, Morales with $44,700 and nearly $14,000 for Lopez.

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file reports showing fundraising from April 8 through May 5.


BLM Seeks Bids For New Corrals For Wild Horses The Associated Press

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is soliciting bids for new, short-term holding facilities for wild horses removed from Western rangelands under its ongoing program to thin what it calls overpopulated herds.

Bids will be accepted until June 2 from those interested in operating the corrals in 17 Western and Midwestern states.

The BLM places mustangs in the facilities until they're adopted or shipped to long-term pastures in the Midwest.

Suzanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign says the plans come at a time when the agency already "warehouses" more mustangs off the range than remain free in the wild.

She says it's an indication the BLM intends to remove more horses in direct contradiction to a recommendation by an independent panel of the National Academy of Sciences.

Santa Fe Couple Give $250K In Scholarship Money The Santa Fe New Mexican, The Associated Press

Six students will collectively get a quarter of a million dollars a year for their higher education thanks to a Santa Fe couple.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported last week that five high school seniors and a New Mexico State University freshman have been honored as Davis Breakthrough Scholars.

All of the recipients belong to Breakthrough Santa Fe, a program at Santa Fe Prep that puts students through an intense six-week summer course.

The students have been with the program since seventh grade.

Philanthropists Andrew and Sydney Davis started the decade-old program to help students who otherwise could not afford college.

The Davises this year increased their contribution from $5,000 scholarships to covering tuition, books and supplies.

Officials say most of the recipients are the first in their family to go to college.

Mayor: Change To Come Soon To Albuquerque Police The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

Albuquerque's mayor says the city is not waiting for a formal agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to start instituting some changes to police procedures.

Mayor Richard Berry told the Albuquerque Journal that there are changes to protocol that the city can implement rather than wait for negotiations with the DOJ to be resolved.

Berry says one policy that will be affected is the use of lapel cameras by officers but didn't give further details.

The Justice Department released a scathing report in April, revealing a pattern of excessive force by the Albuquerque Police Department.

The report also said officers were "highly inconsistent" with their use of lapel cameras

Berry says the city won't go too far before getting more feedback from federal authorities.