Judge Orders Change to Cause Of Death In Mary Han Case, UNM Braces For Larger Enrollment Loss

Aug 15, 2018

Judge Orders Change To Cause Of Death In Mary Han Case – Albuquerque Journal

A judge ruled today that the death certificate should be changed for once-prominent Albuquerque civil rights lawyer Mary Han from “suicide” to “undetermined,” the Albuquerque Journal reports.

She was found dead almost eight years ago.

Han’s sister petitioned the court, saying the crime scene was so contaminated—and the police work so shoddy—that there was no basis for the Office of the Medical Investigator’s finding.

OMI released a statement saying they disagree with the judge and stand by the original autopsy determination. OMI is considering an appeal.

Officers who responded to the scene later testified that they considered the death suspicious. But top-ranking city and police department officials interfered, according to a state investigation.

University Of New Mexico Braces For Larger Enrollment Loss- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

University of New Mexico leaders are warning that enrollment could be significantly lower than initially projected.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the university already predicted a 2.5 percent drop, but Terry Babbitt, the school's vice provost for enrollment management and analytics, said Tuesday the drop is "going to be quite a bit bigger."

Babbitt says he had no numbers yet, as classes don't begin until Monday and fluctuations occur during the first few weeks of the semester.

But University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes prepared the university's regents for some lower-than-expected figures, saying the administration has already implemented some changes in recruiting strategy but will need an "all-hands-on-deck" approach to tackle the issue.

The university's enrollment fell 2.9 percent from the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2017 and has dropped a cumulative 9.3 percent since its 2012 peak.

Man Rearrested After Being Mistakenly Released From Jail- Associated Press

U.S. Marshals arrested a man in New Mexico, months after he was mistakenly released from county jail by an employee's typo.

Marshals spokesman Ben Segotta say they arrested Matthew Joe Tuesday at his mother's home in Thoreau.

Segotta says marshals had been looking for Joe for a couple of weeks, and found him through a tip from a "confidential source."

A District Court judge in May ordered Joe to serve a year in the Metropolitan Detention Center — on stolen vehicle and other charges — but a jail employee entered the wrong year as Joe's booking date, leading the judge to believe he had already served his sentence.

The error resulted in Joe being mistakenly set free.

New Mexico Land Boss Says No To Offer From US Border Agency- Associated Press

New Mexico's top land boss has rejected a proposal from the federal government to settle an easement dispute over land along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn contends the government never received authorization to access state trust land that borders the international boundary and hasn't compensated the state for using the property.

After months of negotiations, Dunn said Wednesday he's disappointed with a government appraisal that amounts to less than $9,000. He said that's a fraction of what the state should receive in easement fees.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it continues to coordinate with Dunn's office but wouldn't comment further on the on-going discussions.

The parcel in question is among millions of acres around the state that are held in trust, with the proceeds of any easements, development or leases helping to fund public education.

Judge Recieves Threats, Compound Defendant In Immigration Custody - Associated Press

A sheriff in New Mexico says a woman arrested in a raid on a compound and charged with child abuse has been turned over to federal immigration authorities.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said Jany Leveille was transferred Tuesday to custody of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The 35-year-old native of Haiti is the mother of six children taken into state custody in a raid this month on the ramshackle compound near the Colorado state line.

Leveille's immigration status is unclear.

One of the four other adults arrested at the compound will not be released because an arrest warrant has been issued for him in Georgia.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is accused of kidnapping his 3-year-old son in December. A young boy's remains were found on the compound.

An attorney for a woman charged with child abuse in a raid on a makeshift living compound in northern New Mexico says she believes her client has been taken into custody by federal immigration authorities.

Attorney Kelly Golightley says she has reason to believe Jany Leveille is no longer in Taos at the county's detention facility and appears to be in federal custody.

A regional spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not immediately determine whether Leveille had been detained by the agency.

Leveille was among five adults detained in the raid.

A state judge on Monday cleared the way for the release of the adults to house arrest pending trial.

Golightley could not provide information about the citizenship or immigration status of the 35-year-old client.

Meanwhile, state court officials say Judge Sarah Backus has received threats of violence after her ruling that allowed the release of defendants in the case.

Administrative Office of the Courts Director Artie Pepin said Tuesday that Backus has come under attack through social media, emails and telephone calls in response to a pre-trial ruling that allows the release of two men and three women. One telephone caller threatened to slit the judge's throat, while others made derogatory insults.

Backus says prosecutors presented troubling information about the defendants in court on Monday but failed to articulate any specific danger to the community.

Pepin says a judge's responsibility is to make impartial decisions based on evidence in court and not popular sentiment from other information.

The father of a boy kidnapped in Georgia would not be released because an arrest warrant has been issued for him in that state.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and other state Republicans are criticizing a Backus's decision, despite prosecutors’ warnings that the extended family had been training for an armed, anti-government mission.

State Republican Party Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi described the decision to allow the release as "absurd" and said he believes the suspects pose a danger to the public and are a flight risk.

Backus set a $20,000 bond for each defendant and ordered them to wear ankle monitors when released. They are forbidden to hold firearms.

Governor Martinez also renewed her criticism of new state rules for pre-trial release that set a high standard of proof for holding suspects without bond.

Santa Fe Public Schools To Check All Visitors' Backgrounds - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Santa Fe public schools will begin checking to see if visitors are on a national sex offender list.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the change adopted this week will require parents and visitors to campus to show IDs so officials can check their backgrounds. A system will conduct a quick scan to make sure the name and birthdate on the visitor's driver's license do not match any information logged in a national sex offender list.

Under the new system, visitors must swipe their driver's license or another type of identification card through a device that looks similar to a credit card machine.

Santa Fe Public Schools spokesman Jeff Gephart says the change will add "an additional layer of safety."

Emails Show Key New Mexico Commissioner OK'd Dubious Expenses - Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Documents show a key, northern New Mexico commissioner approved taxpayer-supported reimbursements for food and alcohol that have since come under scrutiny.

Emails from Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal released last week in an independent investigation into the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities showed Roybal gave his approval for reimbursements involving baseball tickets, expensive alcohol and fancy restaurant outings.

The emails show Roybal, as treasurer of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, rarely questioned the request for reimbursements which the New Mexico state auditor says were improper.

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities is an agency made of nine northern New Mexico cities, counties and pueblos surrounding the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory. The group promotes the economy in connection with the lab.

Roybal didn't immediately return an email from The Associated Press.

Murder Convictions In 2 Killings In Same-Day Home Invasions - Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld a man's murder convictions stemming from two killings that occurred in separate Albuquerque home invasions the same day.

The justices' rulings Monday upheld Jesus Suarez's murder convictions in the 2013 killings of Robert Kinter and Michael Garris.

Suarez's appeals argued that he received ineffective trial representation because his trial defense lawyer didn't try to have one jury hear both cases together so he could claim that he was framed by a gang for both killings.

The justices' two unanimous rulings on the two cases said it wasn't evident Suarez had ineffective assistance of counsel and that there was no indication the outcomes would have been different if the cases had been joined for trial.

Potential New Coal Plant Operator Offers Few New Details - Associated Press

A potential new operator of a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation says it would run the plant at less than half its capacity to ensure that it's economical.

Fewer employees, and a new lease and coal supply agreement also are in the mix as Chicago-based Middle River Power pursues a takeover of the Navajo Generating Station.

The current owners of the 2,250-megawatt plant near Page are planning to shut it down next year unless someone buys it. They say natural gas-produced power is cheaper.

Middle River Power says it can run the generating station more economically, ensuring a steady power base. The company offered few other details on Tuesday in a meeting before Arizona utility regulators.

Critics say the focus should be on renewable energy development, not coal.

Woman Accused Of Stealing From Albuquerque Rehab Patients- Associated Press

State prosecutors say a former office manager at an Albuquerque rehabilitation center has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $30,000 from elderly patients who suffered from dementia.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office says Leanne Bennett could face up to three years in prison when she's sentenced on Oct. 18 and be required to pay more than $44,000 in restitution to the victims.

Prosecutors say Bennett worked at the Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque.

They say she allegedly used her position as office manager to steal from elderly residents between 2012 and 2013.

Bennett allegedly gained access to residents' checking accounts, ATM accounts and debit cards.

She's accused of writing checks to herself and making cash withdrawals from victims' ATM accounts across the city.