Injunction Sought To Stop Absentee Vote Counting In State, Border Patrol Agent Shoots, Kills Gunman

Nov 4, 2019

Injunction Sought To Stop Absentee Vote Counting In State - Associated Press

Republican Party officials plan to hold a news conference Monday to discuss their lawsuit against the New Mexico Secretary of State, the Doña Ana County Clerk and the county's Absentee Voter Precinct Board.

State GOP officials say the defendants are defying a new law that calls for absentee voters to provide their name, address and year of birth.

They also say many voters in Doña Ana County have submitted improper ballots.

The party filed its lawsuit Friday, asking the Third Judicial District Court for an injunction to stop the counting of the absentee votes.

They also want the court to issue a declaratory judgment to clarify the meaning of the 2019 changes and to set a uniform statewide standard for qualifying and counting absentee votes for this nonpartisan election and future ones.

Border Patrol Agent Shoots, Kills Gunman Who Opened Fire Associated Press

A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a gunman who opened fire about a mile from the border with Mexico, immigration officials said.

The agent approached a group of four people early Sunday, and one of them pulled out a gun and started shooting, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The agent fired back, hitting the man, who died at a hospital. No agents were hurt during the shooting in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a suburb of El Paso, Texas.

No additional information was released, including the names of the agent and gunman. The CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating.

Federal authorities blocked off the crime scene, closing a main road in Sunland Park and stretching crime tape between their patrol vehicles.

An auto shop and a car dealership on either side of the street were closed.

Boeing Crew Capsule Launched Mile Into Air On Test FlightAssociated Press

Boeing's crew capsule is back on land after a brief flight to test its launch abort system.

The Starliner capsule carried no astronauts Monday morning, just a test dummy.

Boeing plans to launch the Starliner to the International Space Station next month, without a crew. The abort system will provide a fast getaway for three astronauts if there's an emergency on the Florida pad or in flight.

During Monday's test, Boeing counted down to zero, then the Starliner's launch abort engines fired. The capsule soared nearly a mile (1,300 meters), then parachuted back into the New Mexico desert. The entire flight lasted one-and-a-half minutes.

Only two of the three main parachutes deployed, but NASA said astronauts would have been safe if aboard.

Next up is an orbital test flight.

Albuquerque Faces Ethics Beef For Pro-Bond Push On WebsiteAssociated Press

A conservative-leaning group says it will file an ethics complaint against the city of Albuquerque for a pro-bond push posted on the city's taxpayer-funded website.

Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing told The Associated Press on Monday his group will file an ethics complaint after Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller urged city residents on the city's website to vote 'YES' Wednesday on the proposed general obligation bond.

Keller says the bond would fund a new library and give police more vehicles and equipment.

Gessing says election laws prevent cities, counties, and school districts from using tax-funded websites to push a stance on bonds or mill levies.

Albuquerque spokesman Matthew Ross did not immediately respond to an email.

New Mexico's Top Court Examines 'Warrior-Gene' Defense Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court is considering whether evidence of a genetic predisposition toward violence should have been allowed in the trial of a man convicted of murder in 2015.

Oral arguments were scheduled Monday in an appeal stemming from the conviction of Anthony Blas Yepez in the killing of his girlfriend's 75-year-old step-grandfather during a domestic dispute in 2012.

The state Court of Appeals says evidence was improperly excluded at trial that Yepez had a so-called warrior gene variant linked to aggressive and violent behavior. The appeals court also found the omission was harmless and would not have had a bearing on the second-degree murder conviction against Yepez.

State prosecutors fear the appeals court decision left the door open to an unsubstantiated scientific theory in court.

New Mexico Agencies Compete With Private Sector For Workers - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Many New Mexico lawmakers say they want to build up the state government workforce, but the vacancy rate in the state's executive branch has clung to about 22% even after pay raises and increased recruitment efforts.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that state agencies are competing with strong demand in the private sector for workers, especially in southeastern New Mexico where an oil boom is generating high-paying jobs.

Officials say low pay in some state departments and the reputation of state government itself after years of belt-tightening also are factors.

State Personnel Director Pamela Coleman says she's optimistic the vacancy rate will fall as the new administration's priorities take hold.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took office on Jan. 1, when the vacancy rate in state government was also about 22%.

High-Profile Attorney In New Mexico Arrested For 2nd DWI - Associated Press

A high-profile defense attorney in New Mexico is facing his second drunken driving charge this year.

David Serna was arrested Saturday in Albuquerque after police said he crashed his Mini Cooper into another car.

According to a criminal complaint, the 66-year-old Serna admitted to having a beer an hour and a half before the accident after telling police he hadn't been drinking. Court documents also say Serna told authorities he had taken nerve pain medication and oxycodone earlier in the day.

Police say a breathalyzer test showed Serna had a blood alcohol content of 0.16 — twice the legal limit in New Mexico.

Serna was arrested and charged with aggravated drunken driving. Serna did not immediately respond to a phone message.

His latest arrest comes months after prosecutors dropped another drunken driving case.

New Mexico Delegation Takes Aim At US West's Water Scarcity - Associated Press

As things begin to dry out again in New Mexico, members of the arid state's congressional delegation are looking for ways to combat water scarcity here and across the American West.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is blaming climate change for growing water scarcity, worrying that New Mexico snowpacks were getting smaller and unable to adequately feed the Rio Grande and the rest of the state's groundwater supplies.

He and other lawmakers last week introduced the Western Water Security Act of 2019. They say the goal is to strengthen New Mexico's water infrastructure and focus efforts on conservation and the restoration of water supplies throughout the West.

The latest federal drought map shows a big pocket of moderate to severe drought over the Four Corners region, where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah meet.

Time Ticks Away At Wild Bison Genetic Diversity - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Evidence is mounting that wild North American bison are gradually shedding their genetic diversity across many of the isolated herds overseen by the U.S. government, weakening future resilience against disease and climate events in the shadow of human encroachment.

Advances in genetics are bringing the concern into sharper focus.

Preliminary results of a genetic population analysis commissioned by the National Park Service show three small federal conservation herds would almost certainly die off within 200 years under current wildlife management techniques.

Answers to protecting genetic diversity may lie in the transfer of bison between unlike herds or initiatives to create larger herds.

North America's bison squeezed through a genetic bottleneck of fewer than 1,000 animals in the late 1800s.

Inmate Who Escaped With Guard's Help Sentenced To 30 Years - Associated Press

A Clovis man who escaped from jail with a detention officer's help has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The 9th Judicial District Attorney's Office says 26-year-old Ricky Sena was sentenced Wednesday on convictions for felony escape from jail and other crimes in his 2018 escape with two other inmates from the Curry County Detention Center.

Detention Officer Sarina Dodson is serving a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty to assist escape from jail.

Sena's sentence will run consecutively to an 11-year term for other convictions.

Authorities said the inmates with Dodson's help were able to walk out an unlocked jail door.

The escapees were taken into custody after being located four days later hiding in a Clovis residence, and the other two inmates also are now serving prison terms.