NM May Execute 2 Long After Death-Penalty Repeal, National Guard Begins Arriving At Border

Apr 10, 2018

New Mexico May Execute 2 Long After Death-Penalty RepealThe Associated Press

New Mexico's Supreme Court is weighing whether the state's two remaining death row inmates still can be executed after the state's abolition of capital punishment.

Oral arguments were scheduled for Tuesday in the appeal of death sentences against Robert Fry and Timothy Allen for convictions in two brutal killings.

New Mexico repealed the death penalty for future murderers without canceling death sentences against Fry and Allen.

Attorneys for Fry say the execution no longer fits his crimes, while the state attorney general's office says it still is appropriate.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in 2014 on whether the sentences against Fry and Allen are constitutional. The court ordered further briefings on whether execution is disproportionate to their crimes.

New Mexico's last execution was in 2001 against child-killer Terry Clark.

National Guard Members Start Arriving At US-Mexico BorderAssociated Press

Some National Guard members have started arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border with more expected as federal government officials continue to discuss what they'll do about illegal immigration.

The Republican governors of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico committed 1,600 Guard members to the border Monday.

That gives President Donald Trump many of the troops he requested to fight what he's called a crisis of migrant crossings and crime.

The only holdout border state is California, led by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

He hasn't announced whether troops from California's National Guard will participate and has repeatedly fought with Trump over immigration policy.

Governors who send troops retain command and control over their state's Guard members and the U.S. government picks up the cost.

Mayor: Albuquerque Will Seize Cars Only After ConvictionsThe Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has directed the city's police department to only seize cars in cases with convictions.

In a statement Monday, Keller says he is asking the city council to update the ordinance to match the new policy.

The city has seized vehicles under a 25-year-old ordinance. Police could seize a car without the owner being convicted of an offense.

Police were allowed to confiscate the vehicles driven by people who were arrested on suspicion of a second or subsequent drunken driving offense or driving on a suspended license for a drunken driving arrest.

The proceeds from the seizures funded the department program and efforts to fight driving while intoxicated

A federal lawsuit against the city on its seizure program is ongoing.

New Mexico Crash Prompts Safety RecommendationsThe Associated Press

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that railroad companies install video and audio recording devices in their train cabs to monitor the activities of crew members to ensure safe operations.

The board during a meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., also recommended that federal railroad regulators find ways to prevent collisions like the one in eastern New Mexico in 2015 in which an engineer was killed and a crew member was seriously injured.

The two crew members had jumped from their Southwestern Railroad train before it struck a parked train on a siding near Roswell. Investigators say a crew member of the parked train failed to reset a track switch before going off duty.

The board acknowledged the lack of adequate warning systems, noting that failure to reset manual switches is a known high-risk hazard.

Cash-Strapped New Mexico County Will Not Get Aid From CityThe Associated Press & The Gallup Independent

A financially troubled New Mexico county will not get assistance from its largest city to help fund its sheriff's office through the rest of the year.

The Gallup Independent reports a special meeting planned for Friday for the city of Grants to consider a funding request by Cibola County was canceled due to a lack of council members present and failure to post public notice.

Grants City Manager Laura Jaramillo says the meeting will not be rescheduled.

Cibola County commissioners last week asked the city for $150,000 to keep the sheriff's office running.

Jaramillo says the city can only appropriate funding for municipal purposes and aid to the county would not be considered a municipal purpose.

Sheriff Tony Mace says his department will operate with minimal personnel to keep functioning.

Ted Cruz To Headline Event For New Mexico Congress HopefulAssociated Press

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is slated to headline a fundraiser for a GOP congressional candidate in a closely watched race in southern New Mexico.

The Texas Republican is scheduled to speak at a private April 27th event in Hobbs on behalf of former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman.

Newman is seeking the Republican nomination for the state's second district currently held by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who is running for New Mexico governor.

The race is one of many expected to draw national attention in the 2018 midterms.

The district is located on the state's U.S.-Mexico border region and has a large number of Hispanic voters.

US Regulators Consider Proposal For Spent Nuclear FuelAssociated Press

Activists are gearing up to speak out as federal regulators consider a plan to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear reactors around the United States at a proposed site in southern New Mexico.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened a public comment period that will last through May on an application filed by Holtec International.

Public meetings have been scheduled for late April and early May in Roswell, Hobbs and Carlsbad.

Holtec and a coalition of local leaders from southeastern New Mexico first announced plans three years ago to construct a below-ground space for temporarily housing tons of spent fuel. The company is seeking an initial 40-year license.

Some politicians have voiced support for Holtec's plans, but watchdog groups are concerned about environmental and health effects as well as the safety of transporting the fuel.

Sessions To Discuss Immigration Enforcement In New MexicoAssociated Press

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is slated to visit southern New Mexico and speak at a conference for sheriffs in border states.

Sessions will travel to Las Cruces on Wednesday and deliver remarks on immigration enforcement at an annual meeting organized by the Southwestern Border Sheriff's Coalition and the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition.

Sessions' visit comes after President Donald Trump said last week he wants to send 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard members to the border.

Trump also has said he wants to use the military at the border until progress is made on his proposed border wall.

The Southwest Border Sheriff's Coalition is made up of 31 sheriff's departments from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California whose counties are located within 25 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border Patrol Says Wall In New Mexico To Be 'Serious Structure'By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

A new wall being constructed along a 20-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern New Mexico is being advertised as a "very serious structure" made of metal and concrete.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials gathered Monday to mark the groundbreaking of the $73 million project at Santa Teresa near New Mexico's state line with Texas. They say the new wall will be harder to get over, under and through.

The work to rip out the old vehicle barriers and replace them with the bollard-style wall is expected to take a little more than a year. Environmentalists have sued over the project, saying the federal government overstepped its authority in waiving laws as a way to speed construction.

A federal judge in San Diego recently sided with the Trump administration in a similar project involving waivers of environmental reviews for the replacement and construction of border wall prototypes in California. The state is appealing that ruling.

NTSB To Determine Cause Of Fatal 2015 New Mexico Rail WreckAssociated Press

Federal safety officials are expected to determine the probable cause of a fatal 2015 collision involving two freight trains in New Mexico and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing similar wrecks.

The National Transportation Safety Board is meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

An engineer was killed and a second crew member was seriously injured when their Southwestern Railroad train struck a train parked on a siding near Roswell on April 28, 2015.

A preliminary report said the moving train went through a misaligned switch and that the parked train's crew went off duty about 20 minutes before the wreck and weren't present when it happened.

Spending Surges In New Mexico Governor RaceBy Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Democratic candidates for governor of New Mexico went on a spending spree of more than $2 million during the past six months as the sole Republican candidate stockpiled more cash than any other contender.

According to campaign finance statements filed Monday with state regulators, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham's campaign for governor spent $1.2 million while collecting contributions of $1.4 million.

State Sen. Joseph Cervantes injected $1 million of his own family money into his campaign in early April in the form of a loan from himself and wife Jennifer Cervantes. He collected $54,000 from contributors over the past six months.

Media executive Jeff Apodaca, who has been running ads on cable and network TV since December, reported spending roughly $628,000, while raising $254,000 from donors. Apodaca previously lent his campaign $450,000.

The campaign for Congressman Steve Pearce, the sole GOP contender, spent just over $440,000, while setting aside nearly $2.1 million with its focus on the November general election — the largest cash stockpile among candidates.

Pearce's state campaign account received an infusion of $784,000 in November — money the congressman raised and set aside before declaring his candidacy for governor. Pearce raised an additional $862,000 from contributors over the past six months.