Murder Charge Dismissed Against Former APD Officer , Officials Investigate Condo Fire

Nov 28, 2016

Murder Charge Dismissed Against 1 of 2 Albuquerque OfficersThe Associated Press

A special prosecutor has dismissed a second-degree murder charge against one of two former Albuquerque police officers who fatally shot a homeless man during an hourslong standoff.

Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn filed the notice to dismiss the charge against former Officer Dominique Perez on Monday, more than a month after a jury trial for Perez and another officer charged in the shooting ended with a judge declaring a mistrial because jurors said they could not come to an agreement on a verdict.

The notice to dismiss was filed "without prejudice," which leaves open the option for prosecutors to file charges later.

Perez was a SWAT officer at the time of the March 2014 shooting that killed camper James Boyd. Now-retired Detective Keith Sandy also opened fire.

McGinn did not dismiss the second-degree murder charge against Sandy.

Feds Investigating Fire That Destroyed ABQ CondosAssociated Press

Federal authorities have joined an investigation into a fire that destroyed a luxury condo building in Albuquerque.

It's unclear whether the fire was connected to a spate of crimes targeting businesses. When asked if the incidents were related, Albuquerque Fire Department spokeswoman Melissa Romero said only that the investigation was ongoing.

Romero says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will help the local fire department investigate a fire at the Carlisle Condominiums on Nov. 23 that resulted in over $9 million in damages. A team of 25 ATF agents arrived in Albuquerque on Saturday to begin investigating the cause of the fire.

A spokesman for the ATF told the Albuquerque Journal it was premature to discuss possible links between this fire and other fires and vandalism that took place around the city over the weekend at businesses and stores.

A suspect is in custody in those incidents.

Police Chief Says Arrest Should End Crime StringAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden says authorities believe a string of fires and acts of vandalism at businesses in the city will end now that a suspect is in custody.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Eden told a Saturday news conference that there were "multiple crime scenes all over the city."

No information was released about the suspect, whom Eden said has been arrested but not charged.

The FBI earlier Saturday announced that a person was in custody in connection with the placement of several suspicious devices.

The FBI's statement didn't include specifics but the agency said Friday that federal authorities and police were investigating vandalism involving devices placed at three Starbucks locations and that one device caused minimal damage.

Other incidents under investigation included fires early Saturday at Old Navy and Barnes & Noble stores.

No injuries have been reported.

New Mexico's 270,000 New Medicaid Recipients At RiskAssociated Press

With President-elect Donald Trump promising to do away with the Affordable Care Act, Republican states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the law are left to wonder what will happen to their programs.

Second-term Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has offered vague assurances that people won't be left without health insurance in a state with one of the highest Medicaid enrollment rates in the country. Many GOP-led states that joined the expansion may push for it to be kept.

Out of 2.1 million New Mexico residents, more than 270,000 people have signed up for Medicaid since Martinez agreed to expand the program in 2014 under provisions of President Barack Obama's health care law.

New Mexico state government is grappling with how to pay its small share of federally subsidized Medicaid expenses amid a state budget crisis linked to a downturn in the oil industry.

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Former Las Cruces OfficersLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Prosecutors have dismissed charges accusing two former Las Cruces police officers of beating a man in a holding cell.

The offices of District Attorney Mark D'Antonio and state Attorney General Hector Balderas jointly filed a dismissal notice in the cases of Richard Garcia and Danny Salcido.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means they can be refiled in the future.

Doña Ana County jurors last summer deadlocked after two days of deliberation in the trial of Garcia.

The ex-officers were charged with aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm in the 2014 beating of 49-year-old Ross Flynn, who suffered a fractured skull.

Group Praises Employees Who Shielded Hijab-Wearing ShopperAssociated Press

A civil rights group is praising the response of employees at a New Mexico grocery store when a woman yelled at a hijab-wearing shopper, saying she was a terrorist.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the "collective defense" provided last week at a Smith's store in Albuquerque by employees who gathered in front of the hijab-wearing shopper sets an example for others.

Hijabs are headscarves worn by some Muslim women.

Store manager Andrew Castillo says the woman yelled racist things and that other people in the store then shouted at the woman to leave the shopper alone.

Employees walked the shopper to her car so she couldn't be accosted outside by the woman who had left the store but remained in the parking area.

The woman left before police arrived.

Water Rights Deal Pits New Mexico Villagers Against OilmanSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A battle is brewing between residents of a northern New Mexico village and a Texas oilman who has a ranch along the Pecos River.

Pecos resident and gas station owner Pancho Adelo says he's concerned that the village is in danger of losing water to development.

At issue is a pending water rights transfer that villagers believe will affect a centuries-old acequia that diverts water for agricultural use.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports several residents have filed protests against a proposed transfer of 20 acre-feet of water from Pecos resident and Village Council member Herman Gallegos to Benjamin Strickling's ranch.

Despite Strickling's assurances that the traditional use of the water would be maintained, critics say it's hard for regulators to enforce just how much water the ranch pumps out or ensure that Gallegos stops using the water upstream.

New Mexico Revokes Hunting Privileges In Poaching CaseAssociated Press

State wildlife commissioners have revoked the hunting, fishing and trapping privileges of a northern New Mexico man for 10 years.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says Esequiel Mascarenas was found guilty of numerous charges, including killing deer out of season and exceeding the hunting limit for deer.

The Las Vegas man was the subject of an investigation that started in 2012. A search warrant culminated in more than two dozen poaching charges being filed in 2014.

The Game Commission handed down its decision after the case concluded in the courts.

On the night he was caught, Mascarenas and another man drove about 300 miles and shot three deer in three separate counties. Authorities say one was shot with a crossbow in downtown Cimarron behind the historic St. James Hotel.

Texas Oil Company Looks To Boost Production In New Mexico - Associated Press

A Texas-based oil and gas company has reached a $430 million deal that will clear the way for more production in southeastern New Mexico.

Concho Resources Inc. made the announcement this week, saying it has agreed to acquire dozens of square miles in the northern Delaware Basin. Much of the acreage is located in the Red Hills area in Lea County.

Concho president and chief executive Tim Leach says the transaction will add to what the company is already doing in the region.

Concho says the Red Hills area is generating exceptional returns at current prices and drilling there will help with the company's long-term growth.

Although the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas has been rising elsewhere in the U.S. in recent weeks, experts say depressed energy prices continue to curtail exploration.

Sale Of Santa Fe Art And Design University Put On HoldAssociated Press

A private, nonprofit agency that accredits colleges and universities has put the brakes on the proposed sale of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design to a Singapore-based company.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Higher Learning Commission wants more data about the sale and its possible effect on financial aid for students.

The commission's board voted during its November meeting to defer action on the sales application.

The commission is seeking additional financial and legal documents relating to the Santa Fe school, its parent company Laureate International Universities and potential buyer Raffles Education Corp.

Commission spokesman Steve Kauffman says the board expects to review the information at its next meeting in February.

The school has about 900 students enrolled in its art and film programs.