DA Clears Man Of Murder Charge In Girl's Death, New Mexico Courts To Resume Full Business Hours

Jun 30, 2018

DA Clears Man Of Murder Charge In Girl's Death – Associated Press

Prosecutors have dismissed murder and sexual assault charges against a man arrested two years ago in the death of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl whose dismembered remains were found in her family's apartment.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez says there is no physical evidence that Fabian Gonzales raped Victoria Martens. Instead, a lab analysis found another unidentified male's DNA on her body.

Witness statements and cell phone data also show Gonzales and the girl's mother, Michelle Martens, were not at the apartment when the girl was killed.

Both had been charged with murder in the girl's death until Friday, when Martens pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and Torrez announced the new revelations.

Court records indicate a third suspect, who is Gonzales' cousin, still awaits trial on murder and other charges.

ACLU Says Government Wrong To Detain Families – Associated Press

The ACLU is disputing a Trump administration claim that it has to detain families indefinitely because of a court ruling barring it from separating them.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, said requirements in a case settlement known as the Flores agreement don't conflict with the order issued in San Diego on Tuesday that required the government to reunify immigrant families separated at the border.

The Department of Justice said in a court filing Friday in Los Angeles in the decades-old Flores case that the ruling requires it to keep families detained in order to keep them together.

Gelernt said the government has a constitutional obligation to release parents who don't pose a flight risk or danger, and that parents can choose to release their children if they don't want them to be in a family detention center.

The administration's zero tolerance policy has resulted in the separation of thousands of kids from their parents at the border.

New Mexico Courts To Resume Full Business Hours – Associated Press

New Mexico's state courts will have enough money to resume full business hours for the public for the new fiscal year that starts in July.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura made the announcement Friday, saying she's grateful lawmakers provided resources in the state budget for courts to meet their constitutional and statutory obligations.

Monday marks the start of the first business day for the 2019 fiscal year, but court officials say several clerk's offices have already started offering a full eight hours for customer service.

Funding and staffing shortages in recent years had forced about half of magistrate courts statewide to close clerk's offices for a portion of one day each week. A third of district courts also reduced the hours that clerk's offices were open to the public.

Autopsy Lists Zimbabwe Opposition Leader's Crash Wounds – Associated Press

An autopsy shows a key Zimbabwe opposition leader suffered skull and rib fractures in a fiery helicopter crash that killed him, his wife and three others in New Mexico earlier this year.

State medical investigators released autopsies for Roy Bennett and his wife, Heather, on Friday, nearly six months after they died in the wreck outside Raton as they were traveling to a friend's property in the area.

The autopsy for Heather Bennett showed she suffered head and chest injuries, as well as burns that covered most of her body.

Autopsies for the other crash victims killed were released last month.

The Bennetts' deaths were met with an outpouring of grief in Zimbabwe after the crash. A white man who spoke fluent Shona, Bennett had won a devoted following among Zimbabweans for passionately advocating political change.

Suspect Yells 'I Have A Gun' Before Being Shot By Police – Associated Press

Albuquerque police say a suspect in an armed robbery yelled that he had a gun before he was shot and fatally wounded by an officer during a chase that ended in front of a grocery store.

Police have released details and body camera footage from the June 16 shooting involving Richard Rivera.

Rivera and a woman were suspected of holding up a Verizon store and then fleeing in a stolen van. Police say Rivera fired at officers during the chase.

The van was finally stopped and video shows an officer running after Rivera while yelling at him to stop. He fired as Rivera approached the grocery store entrance.

Surveillance camera footage shows Rivera looking back and reaching for his right hip before the shots are fired. Police say Rivera had left the gun in the van before running.