MON: New NMSU lawsuit alleges guns were often present in basketball locker room, + More
New Mexico St lawsuit alleges guns were often present in locker room - By Eddie Pells AP National Writer
Two former New Mexico State basketball players and a student manager filed a lawsuit Monday saying their teammates frequently brought guns into the locker room where they sexually assaulted players as a way of ensuring everyone on the team remained "humble."
Kyle Feit, along with a teammate and student manager who did not want their names used, filed the lawsuit in district court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, against the school, its athletic director, Mario Moccia, and former coaches and players. All but Moccia were fired or left last season; Moccia received a contract extension and a raise.
The lawsuit was filed the same day as the Aggies' 2023-24 season opener, at Kentucky.
Feit revealed his name, the lawsuit says, because "his interest in speaking out and holding all of the defendants accountable outweighs his desire to protect his personal privacy interests."
Some of the allegations — that players would sexually assault teammates after forcing them to pull their pants down — were similar to those made in a lawsuit the school settled earlier this year with former players Shak Odunewu and Deuce Benjamin, along with Benjamin's father, for an amount totaling $8 million.
The new lawsuit claims that in addition to being assaulted in much the same way as Benjamin and Odunewu, guns were a regular presence in the locker room and elsewhere on campus and on team trips. The lawsuit describes Feit as having guns pointed at him from inside car windows three times as he was walking across campus.
Guns are not allowed on New Mexico State's campus, nor on trips involving school activities. The school's enforcement of that rule came under increased scrutiny when former player Mike Peake shot and killed a University of New Mexico student while the team was on a road trip in Albuquerque. Peake was not charged with a crime because video showed he was acting in self-defense.
After the Peake shooting, the lawsuit says, "the presence of guns (within the team) became even more real and menacing. (Feit) knew his teammates were in fear of retribution for the shooting and the atmosphere was very tense."
The lawsuit says Feit, who previously played at Arizona State and was featured in some of New Mexico State's early season promotional materials in 2022, was on the verge of quitting the team before administrators abruptly canceled the season in February.
The lawsuit says Feit was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while at New Mexico State. He moved away from campus and earlier this year signed with a pro team in Israel. He has since returned home due to the war in the region.
"His PTSD was triggered by the war in Israel, resulting in him living in constant fear and worsening his condition," the lawsuit says.
New Mexico State spokesman Justin Bannister said the school does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit was filed less than a week after the revelation that the same three players who were named in the lawsuit were found responsible for sexual misconduct, according to a Title IX investigation spearheaded by the school.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that the investigation determined the players, as a way of making sure their teammates stayed "humble," would demand other players pull down their pants and expose their genitals, while also sometimes grabbing those players' genitals.
All three plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege the players did similar things to them.
"It became difficult for Kyle Feit to focus on basketball and he felt like he was losing his love for the sport," the lawsuit said. "Going to the gym had always been a safe and positive place, and it was no longer. His game suffered, as did his well-being."
A generational commitment is needed to solve New Mexico's safety issues, attorney general says - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press
It will take a generational commitment to solve New Mexico's public safety problems, the state's top prosecutor said Friday, urging policymakers to listen to those on the ground who are working with people in need of mental health services.
Attorney General Raúl Torrez spent hours listening to providers and other experts from around the state. It was the second such summit Torrez had hosted. The first in September brought together law enforcement officers and prosecutors to share ideas for curbing violent crime.
The meetings come as New Mexico continues to grapple with a crime rate that remains well above the national average. Torrez said most violent crime has its roots in child abuse and neglect, substance abuse and intergenerational trauma — all problems that are addressed now in silos, with professionals working separately.
He and others talked about breaking down those silos and reducing bureaucracy in order to get people the help they need before they end up in the criminal justice system or dead.
"This is going to be a long and complicated and intensive effort," Torrez said at the summit. "It has to be if it's going to be successful."
The attorney general's office said it plans to use what has been learned during the meetings to make recommendations to the governor and state lawmakers in hopes of creating a comprehensive public safety package ahead of the legislative session in January.
The session will be focused on budget issues, and Torrez said there will be no shortage of resources that lawmakers can funnel toward more efficient programs as New Mexico stands to see another financial windfall from record-breaking oil and gas production.
Nick Boukas, director of the Behavioral Health Services Division within the state Human Services Department, said more conversations like the ones had Friday are needed to figure out how New Mexico can do things better. He said he speaks with his counterparts in other states every month to share lessons learned.
Dominic Cappello, co-founder of the Anna, Age Eight Institute at New Mexico State University, said each state and how it takes care of its most vulnerable populations can be considered as separate social experiments, with some doing better jobs than others.
He pointed to annual rankings put out by The Annie E. Casey Foundation that are based on indicators related to child wellbeing. He acknowledged that New Mexico is usually last and that there are things to learn from states in the top 10.
"There's all the research in the world out there on what you do," he said, referring to addressing social determinants of health. "Some states invest more in this and others don't. So it really comes down to that."
Mental health providers who were at the summit said lawmakers are universally supportive of making it easier for people in their communities to access services.
"Republican, Democrat — it doesn't matter. Everybody wants this in their community," said David Ley, president of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers Association. "I think we just need to be able to give them the answers and ideas."
Santa Fe prosecutors add hate crime enhancement to 2023 Oñate statue shooting - Austin Fisher, Source New Mexico
State prosecutors in New Mexico last week indicated they will seek greater penalties for the man recorded on video shooting a climate activist during a prayer ceremony and protest in Rio Arriba County, by arguing the reason for his violence was discriminatory.
County surveillance footage and a witness’ Instagram livestream of the event show Ryan Martinez shoot Jacob Johns (Hopi, Akimel O’odham) before fleeing in a white Tesla.
The decision also comes after family and supporters for Johns petitioned prosecutors to add the hate crime enhancement.
On Sept. 28, Martinez was arrested by a tribal police officer shortly after the shooting. The officer testified in court that he found a handgun, a bullet still in the chamber, in a holster on his waist. New Mexico State Police later found a second handgun and a full magazine in the Tesla’s center console.
Martinez remains in a Rio Arriba County jail awaiting charges for attempted murder and aggravated battery.
University of New Mexico law professor Joshua Kastenberg said he thinks the hate crime charge against Martinez is viable and “about as clean as it gets.”
While the prosecution appears to have the clearest case of hate crime Kastenberg has seen in years, Martinez’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is still subject to more evidence or information.
He said Martinez “showed up with a purpose of disrupting an event that specifically targeted a position taken by the leadership of Native American tribes and the bulk of their members, and he was going to disrupt it.”
“He stepped right into a hate crime charge on that one,” Kastenberg said.
POTENTIAL PRISON TIME
State prosecutors added a hate crime enhancement and a firearm enhancement to the charges against Martinez.
He faces up to 16 years and six months for the underlying felonies, and possibly up to seven years for the two enhancements. There are also other potential pending charges, including reckless driving.
New Mexico struggled for a while with hate crime enhancement, Kastenberg said. It was on the books since at least 2001 but wasn’t discussed at the Court of Appeals or the New Mexico Supreme Court until 2007.
That year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld hate crime enhancements states had in place, ruling them to be constitutional.
The aggravated battery charge against Martinez came from photographic evidence and sworn testimony showing he pointed his loaded handgun at Malaya Peixinho. Her father Mateo Peixinho testified he interacted with Martinez twice before the shooting, and asked him why he was at the peaceful event.
“He described to me that he was frustrated and angry at the county commissioners for allowing a few Indian protesters to stop them from doing what they needed to do,” Mateo Peixinho testified.
Johns’ attorney John Day said Peixinho’s testimony supports a hate crime finding because it shows there is a motivation based on race and religion.
Since Kastenberg started teaching in New Mexico in 2016, “I haven’t seen a clear-cut hate crime as much as this one in our state.”
SELF DEFENSE CLAIM
Martinez’s attorney has said he was acting in self-defense. All defendants are entitled to raise a defense, according to Kastenberg. For a jury to consider a self-defense instruction, there only has to be a shred of evidence, the professor said.
There were plenty of times in Kasenberg’s experience as a trial judge when he said even if no one would believe a particular self-defense claim, he would still have to allow a jury to consider it because of the “scintilla of evidence” rule.
Kastenberg also said prosecutors “would be free to argue that it’s patently absurd to even consider that self-defense would apply in this case.” He doesn’t know what prosecutors would be able to present to a jury to prevent a self-defense claim at the trial. They might be able to but it’s usually rare, he said.
Kastenberg said he thinks the evidence “very possibly” could say Martinez stepped into it on purpose, which would negate his self-defense claim.
Day, the victim’s attorney, said the video evidence would undercut a self-defense claim because Martinez was the only person there with a gun. Kastenberg said one can forfeit a self-defense claim simply by going to a place uninvited with the apparent purpose of disrupting that place, if the disruption contains the element of an intent of violence.
If the prosecution can present real evidence to show that Martinez came to the event looking to disrupt it, with the intent of using violence if he had to, they could make a good faith argument that he’s forfeited the right to raise a self-defense claim before the trial.
“I’ve seen that video, and I don’t see any self-defense there,” Day said. “I see someone who was motivated to commit violence against a prayer vigil.”
IDENTIFYING WITH HATE
It is also the second shooting at a monument specifically to Spanish colonizer and war criminal Juan de Oñate in the last three-and-a-half years, and part of a longer political struggle around public monuments to the United States’ colonial and Confederate history. Martinez’s case was mentioned three times during the Nov. 1 sentencing hearing for the person convicted in connection with the first shooting.
“Our political violence is unique to us here in a way that it’s not south of the Mason-Dixon line, but it has the same mentality, in my mind.” Kastenberg said.
According to the Rio Grande SUN, when Martinez learned the statue ceremony had been postponed, he wrote to the Rio Arriba county manager, “Has the ceremony really been canceled (sic) tomorrow morning??My statue won’t return?”
“There is a core of people who use it as their identity,” Kastenberg said. “Those symbols are their identity — and not simply because they have a relative who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War or they can point back to a time where they had a relative who fought for the Spanish.”
Kastenberg likened what’s happening in New Mexico to the violent resistance to changing Confederate symbols over the last 25 years in the U.S., along with a greater mass of people supporting them, who wouldn’t do violence themselves but seem comfortable with it.
“Even if they could analyze themselves deep down, they don’t want their belief system being challenged,” Kastenberg said. “They justify acts of violence in guarding their world, the belief systems that are contained with them, without even considering that their world represents generations of racial, religious, ethnic, gender oppression, and the like.”
‘IF IT WAS A SYNAGOGUE, IF IT WAS A MOSQUE: SAME CONCEPT’
Arguing for the hate crime enhancements in an interview, Day pointed to recent hate crime prosecutions including shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn.; a supermarket in Buffalo, New York; a church in Charleston, South Carolina; and a Walmart in El Paso.
Day compared Martinez’s actions to someone trying to intrude into and disrupt a Baptist church, for example, getting escorted by the congregation, pulling a gun and shooting into the building.
“What’s the difference?” Day asked. “This was simply an open air Indigenous ceremony. Not every religious ceremony has to take place inside a building. If it was a synagogue, if it was a mosque: same concept.”
Day said Johns and his family are pleased Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies indicated she will seek the hate crime and gun enhancements in the case.
“We’re also hopeful that the U.S. Department of Justice will see it as a hate crime,” Day said in an interview Friday. “It’s their call, but we certainly believe it falls under the federal hate crime statutes. But that’s their decision.”
There is a federal law which operates similarly to New Mexico’s hate crime enhancement, but it spells out specific hate crimes, allowing federal prosecutors to snare everyone involved in a given crime even if they are outside the state, Kastenberg said.
In a joint statement with the 25th Navajo Nation Council on Oct. 10, Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley asked the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and New Mexico authorities to “investigate the shooting as a hate crime and terrorist attack.”
“That’s certainly helpful, when you have other Indigenous bodies taking that position,” Day said.
Day said the hate crime enhancement, and the hope for a federal charge matter because they recognize the hatred toward various religious and ethnic groups “and we can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist.”
“But what we can do is address it using the laws appropriately that target crimes based on hatred and bias,” Day said. “It’s important, in this case, to recognize that hatred and bias underlies what the shooter did.”
What to know about same-day voter registration in New Mexico - Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico
Local elections are set from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7 across New Mexico.
Races on the ballots include school boards, water and soil districts, local ordinances and county and municipal government positions.
HERE’S WHAT TO BRING
Most polling locations across the state will allow for same-day voter registration. To register, state law requires a person to bring an ID with current residency, if an ID is not updated people should also bring a proof of residency:
A New Mexico picture ID, such as a driver’s license.
If your driver’s license or other identification is not from New Mexico, or it does not reflect the address you are registered to vote from, you will also be required to bring proof of residency such as a utility bill, bank statement, lease or other document identifying the address and identity.
A valid student photo identification card, proof of residency, and proof of attendance such as a current fee statement or class schedule.
Same-day registration is limited to casting a ballot in-person and cannot be used for voting by mail.
Doña Ana County Clerk Amanda López Askin cautioned people who are registering to vote on election day to expect their session to take a little longer.
“Frankly, there’s going to be a bit of a wait,” López Askin said. “You have to fill out the information in the system, we have to verify documents, then it’s sent to the Secretary of State’s database, where they work on confirming all the information, so you’re eligible to vote.”
SAME DAY REGISTRATION ON NOV. 7
Source NM confirmed with county clerk’s offices across the state about their same-day registration availability at polling sites on Election Day. Here’s where the clerks said same-day registration will be available.
Auto industry pushes back on New Mexico’s wish for more electric vehicles - Bryce Dix, KUNM News, Las Cruces Sun News
Rules looking to put more electric vehicles on New Mexico’s roads are receiving some pushback from Republican lawmakers and auto industry leaders.
On November 13th, a joint hearing between the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board will consider rules setting future electric vehicle sales targets.
They would only apply to automakers, not dealers, and the state would require 100% of all new vehicles delivered to meet zero-emission standards by 2035.
The rules would not outlaw the use or purchase of gas or diesel powered vehicles.
As the Las Cruces Sun reports, the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association filed its testimony in the case and plans to testify during the hearing in opposition.
The NMADA argued the rules, if enacted, would limit options for consumers, forcing more drivers to buy electric vehicles.
That, and the group pointed out the state lacks adequate and equitable charging infrastructure –– especially in rural parts of the state.
The State’s House Republican Caucus had similar concerns, voicing in a letter to the Environmental Improvement Board that rural areas would struggle to adopt the rule.
Survivors say trauma from abusive Native American boarding schools stretches across generations - By Matthew Brown Associated Press
Donovan Archambault was 11 years old in 1950 when he was sent from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana to a government-backed Native American boarding school in Pierre, South Dakota, where abusive staff forced him to abandon his community's language and customs.
Archambault emerged bitter from the experience and said he drank alcohol for more than two decades before he finally pulled his life together, earning a master's degree in education and serving as chairman of the Fort Belknap tribes.
"It was probably the most brutal time of my whole life," Archambault recalled Sunday, "and it all stemmed from the trauma we suffered in the Pierre Indian School."
Decades after the last Native American boarding schools stopped receiving federal money, the traumas inflicted by the abusive institutions are getting belated attention through a series of listening sessions hosted by federal officials across the U.S.
For over 150 years, Indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced into the boarding schools, which systematically abused students to assimilate them into white society. Religious and private institutions ran many of the schools and received federal funding as partners in government programs to "civilize" Indigenous students.
Sunday's event at Montana State University in Bozeman was the last of 12 stops on the "Road to Healing" tour by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico who has prioritized examining the trauma caused by the schools.
The effects of the trauma have rippled through generations, fueling alcoholism, drug addiction and sexual abuse on reservations, said Jennifer Finley, a council member for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes whose grandparents went to one of the boarding schools.
"When we talk about historical trauma I always think, 'If only that's all we had.' But we have fresh traumas piled on top of it every single day," she said.
The U.S. enacted laws and policies in 1819 to support the schools and some continued to operate through the 1960s. An investigative report released last year by the Interior Department identified 408 government-backed schools in 37 states or then-territories, including Alaska and Hawaii.
The schools renamed children from Native American to English names, organized them into military drills and compelled them to do manual labor such as farming, brick-making and working on the railroad system, according to federal officials. At least 500 children died at the schools, according to the report — a figure that's expected to increase dramatically as research continues.
One of Haaland's deputies, Rosebud Sioux member Wizipan Garriott, has described boarding schools as part of a long history of injustices against his people that began with the widespread extermination of their main food source — bison, also known as buffalo.
Tribes also lost their land base and were forced onto reservations sometimes far from their homelands.
Victims and survivors of the schools have shared tearful recollections of their experience during prior listening sessions in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Michigan, Arizona, Alaska and other states.
They told stories of being punished for speaking their native language, getting locked in basements and their hair being cut to stamp out their identities. They were sometimes subjected to solitary confinement, beatings and withholding food. Many left the schools with only basic vocational skills that gave them few job prospects, officials said.
Myrna Burgess, a Northern Cheyenne elder, said Sunday that she and her classmates faced escalating punishments for speaking their home language. First time they'd get hit with a ruler on the back of the hand. After a second offense they'd have to turn their hand over, to get hit on the palm. Another offense brought a strike to the back or head, she said.
"That was child abuse right there, but no one ever went to jail," she said.
Archambeault said many of his classmates did not survive long enough to tell their stories and instead became victims of suicide, alcohol and violence that he traces back to the treatment they received at school.
A second investigative report is expected in coming months. It will focus on burial sites, the schools' impact on Indigenous communities and also try to account for federal funds spent on the troubled program.
Montana had 16 of the schools — including on or near the Crow, Blackfeet, Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations. Most shut down early last century. Others were around recently enough that their former students are still alive.
A Native American boarding school school in the town of St. Ignatius on the Flathead Reservation was open until at least 1973. In southeastern Montana the Tongue River Boarding School operated under various names until at least 1970, when the Northern Cheyenne Tribe contracted it as a tribal school, according to government records.
The St. Labre school at the edge of the Northern Cheyenne continues to operate but has not received federal money in more than a century, according to government records.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition has tallied an additional 113 schools not on the government list that were run by churches and with no evidence of federal support. By 1926, more than 80% of Indigenous school-age children — some 60,000 children — were attending boarding schools that were run either by the federal government or religious organizations, according to the coalition.
The coalition's deputy chief executive, Samuel Torres, said Haaland's tour was a positive first step in addressing the schools' legacy. Next, he said, Congress must approve proposals to establish a truth and reconciliation commission, where survivors could continue airing their stories and the federal government's role in the abuse could be further documented.
"Boarding schools lasted over 150 years. It's going to take more than a couple of years of investigation," Torres said. "It's going to require generations. But this is where it has to start."
Gary Colson, who lobbied to add the 3-point shot during a basketball coaching career, dies at 89 - By Beth Harris AP Sports Writer
Gary Colson, who successfully lobbied to introduce the 3-point shot to college basketball during a 34-year coaching career that included stops at Fresno State, New Mexico and Pepperdine, died Friday. He was 89.
He died of complications of lymphoma at home in Santa Barbara, California, said friend Bob Rose, who was informed by Colson's wife.
Colson had a career win-loss record of 563-385 that included 10 seasons at Division II Valdosta State in Georgia, beginning at age 24.
Colson was a member of the NCAA Rules Committee in 1986 when he sought a straw vote from the members to see who was in favor of adding the 3-point shot. He said he was discouraged by such colleagues as Norm Stewart, Digger Phelps, Gerald Myers and Gene Bartow from bringing up a vote.
However, Colson went ahead, and the proposal passed. He also served on the NCAA Officiating Committee.
In its first year, the 3-point shot — then 19 feet, 9 inches — was rarely used. It has evolved over the years to its current distance of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches and is hugely influential in games.
Colson coached future Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson and Luc Longley, who won three NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls.
He preceded Jerry Tarkanian at Fresno State, Dave Bliss at New Mexico and Jim Harrick at Pepperdine.
Colson went 76-73 at Fresno State from 1990-95. He was 146-106 at New Mexico from 1980-88 and was 153-137 at Pepperdine from 1968-79.
He began his head coaching career at Valdosta State, where he was 188-69 from 1958-68 and took the school to two appearances in the NAIA national tournament as well as winning seven Georgia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles.
At Pepperdine, he guided the small Christian school to the 1976 West Coast Athletic Conference title, beating a San Francisco team that included Bill Cartwright in the season's final game. The Waves earned two NCAA Tournament berths during his tenure. He was the league's coach of the year in 1976 and was elected to the school's athletic hall of fame in 1996.
Colson also served as athletic director at Pepperdine from 1971-75.
"Coach Colson put Pepperdine men's basketball on the national college basketball map," current athletic director Steve Potts said. "He was a true scholar of the game and his coaching legacy extends far and wide."
He left Pepperdine in 1980 to take over at New Mexico, which was reeling after a gambling scandal that resulted in the firing of Norm Ellenberger and the program being placed on NCAA probation for three years.
After probation ended in 1983, the Lobos averaged 21 wins over the next five seasons, qualifying for the NIT each of those years. In his final season, his team went 22-14 and beat No. 1 Arizona. Colson was the Western Athletic Conference coach of the year in 1984.
Born in Logansport, Indiana, Colson graduated from David Lipscomb in 1956 and earned a master's in education at Vanderbilt in 1958. He was an all-conference player at Lipscomb and was named the Volunteer State Athletic Conference MVP as a senior. He is in the school's hall of fame.
He later worked as assistant to the president of the Memphis Grizzlies and scouted for his longtime friend, Hall of Famer Jerry West.
Colson authored the books "California Basketball" and "New Mexico Basketball — The System" about the fundamentals of the game.
He traveled to Japan in 2012 and 2013 to give clinics to young players.
He is survived by wife Mary Katherine, sons Rick and Wade, daughter Garianne, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.