Death Penalty Bill Fails To Clear NM Senate, 20 Drug Overdose Deaths In New Mexico This Year

Oct 6, 2016

Death Penalty Bill Fails To Clear NM SenateThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Legislature has adjourned from a special legislative session without considering a measure to reinstate the death penalty and other criminal justice initiatives backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The Democrat-led Senate adjourned Thursday without taking up stricter sentencing provisions approved by the House or Representatives.

New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009. Martinez and allies in Legislature have pushed for stricter criminal sentencing as a response to the recent killing of two police officers and the August sexual assault, killing and mutilation of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in Albuquerque.

Many Democrats said it was inappropriate to consider the weighty issue of capital punishment during an abbreviated special session.

20 Drug Overdose Deaths In New Mexico This YearThe Associated Press

State authorities say they're investigating 20 drug overdose deaths in New Mexico this year that were likely caused by illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

The New Mexico Department of Health and the state Office of the Medical Investigator say that of the 20 deaths, 11 also had methamphetamine present in toxicology results.

The overdose victims ranged in age from 17 to 63 and 85 percent were male.

Authorities say illicitly manufactured fentanyl has been increasingly seen alone or in combination with other drugs as a cause of drug overdose death nationally.

They say it is among a group of synthetic opioids sometimes substituted for and sold on the street as heroin, oxycodone or other drugs.

Authorities say illicitly manufactured fentanyl also has a potency many times higher than that of morphine.

Los Alamos To End On-Site Radioactive Waste DisposalAssociated Press & The Los Alamos Monitor

A new report says Los Alamos National Laboratory will stop the disposing of low-level radioactive waste on site by October 2017.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that the environmental report says the lab will end on-site radioactive waste disposal at the storage compound known as Area G. That's the lab's largest disposal area.

The lab was shipping the low-level waste from Area G to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. That stopped when an improperly packed barrel shipped from the lab exploded at the plant in February 2014.

The annual report monitors the impact lab activities have on the environment and the residents of northern New Mexico.

Greg Mello, executive director of the nuclear disarmament group the Los Alamos Study Group, said he was pleased to hear the news.

Highlands University, Tribal Leaders Sign Scholarship DealAssociated Press

Highlands University and New Mexico's tribal leaders have signed an agreement to give Native American students access to more scholarship.

The memorandum of understanding signed last week sets aside 69 full-tuition scholarships per year through 2020.

Highlands' financial aid director Eileen Sedillo said the university has awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships to New Mexico's Native American students since 2006.

The first memorandum of understanding between Highlands and the New Mexico tribes was signed in 1997. Scholarships were added to later agreements.

Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson To Hold Albuquerque RallyAssociated Press

Third Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is planning to hold another rally in his home state — where polls show he has the highest percentage of support.

The Libertarian Party standard-bearer has scheduled a rally at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque on Saturday.

Representatives for the former New Mexico governor say they believe Johnson could win the state's five electoral votes.

Various polls show Johnson has around 15 to 25 percent of support in New Mexico where he served two terms.

New Mexico House Approves Agency Spending CutsAssociated Press

A plan to slash New Mexico state agency spending by nearly 3 percent with the exception of public safety and child welfare programs has been approved by the state House of Representatives.

The proposal approved Wednesday night closely resembles a Senate-backed bill. House Republican majority leader Nate Gentry says he negotiated a compromise with Senate leaders to cut higher education funding by 5 percent. House Republicans initially advocated for more cuts to higher education to ease budget pressures on public schools.

The 36-32 vote in the House advances a key budget solvency provision as lawmakers confront a nearly $600 million general fund spending deficit.

The House bill would deepen Senate-approved cuts to 5.5 percent of current operating budgets at most agencies, including departments overseeing public health programs, taxation and revenue, economic development, state museums and historic sites, along with the state attorney general's office.

Roswell University Receives $2.8 Million For STEM EducationRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Officials say a $2.8 million, five-year grant will boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at a New Mexico university, especially for the school's Hispanic students.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that Ken Maguire, vice president for Academic Affairs at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, says institutions with a student body that is at least 25 percent Hispanic were eligible for the grant. He says more than half the students at ENMU-R are Hispanic.

Maguire says the U.S. Department of Education grant will help the institution recruit and retain Hispanic students, create an innovation center for STEM learning and experimentation, and provide additional training and development for teachers in STEM fields.

According to Maguire, a 1980s-era laboratory will be converted into fabrication labs modeled after those at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Man Gets 26 Years In Prison For Killing 2 Homeless MenAssociated Press

An 18-year-old man convicted of bludgeoning two homeless men to death will spend more than 26 years in prison.

Nathaniel Carrillo on Tuesday was sentenced to 45 years in prison with 18 ½ years suspended in connection to the deaths of 44-year-old Allison Gorman and 46-year-old Kee Thompson.

Carrillo pleaded no contest in July to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

Authorities say Carrillo, who was 16 at the time of the 2014 attacks, 20-year-old Alex Rios and another teenager attacked the victims as they slept in a vacant lot and beat them with cinder blocks and other objects before stabbing them.

Rios was sentenced to 67 years in prison earlier this year. The other teen has not been sentenced yet.