Former Environment Sec. To Lead Oil Group, Hitchhiker Explains What Led To Fatal Police Killing

Sep 5, 2016

Former New Mexico Official To Lead Oil Industry GroupAssociated Press

The former head of the New Mexico Environment Department has been appointed to lead an oil and gas industry group that represents producers around the state.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association on Friday announced Ryan Flynn as its new executive director.

Flynn replaces Steve Henke, who retired after six years with the association. Like Flynn, Henke also was a former government official, having worked in the Bureau of Land Management's field office in Farmington.

The association's chairman, Cliff Brunson, says Flynn's background in legal and regulatory affairs will be a good fit for the industry as it navigates what he called challenging times.

Environmental groups voiced concerns about a revolving door between government and industry, but association spokesman Wally Drangmeister said Flynn will honor an agreement that prohibits him from interacting with his former agency.

Hitchhiker Explains What Led Up To Fatal Shooting Of OfficerThe Associated Press

A hitchhiker who authorities say jumped into a car with two Ohio fugitives before one of them fatally shot a New Mexico police officer says he had no way of knowing that the two men were suspects in a killing halfway across the country.

Tony Jones also told the Las Cruces Sun-News that he couldn't have imagined how the encounter would have ended up with all three being jailed in New Mexico.

Authorities say the car's driver, 38-year-old Jesse Hanes of Columbus, Ohio, fatally shot Hatch police Officer Jose Chavez during an Aug. 12 traffic stop.

Hanes and another passenger in the car, 36-year-old James Nelson of Newark, Ohio, are accused in the July 25 shooting death of a 62-year-old man just outside Chillicothe, Ohio.

Missing Kentucky Teen Found Unharmed In New MexicoThe Associated Press

Kentucky State Police say a teenager has been found unharmed in New Mexico two days after being reported missing.

State police say in a news release that 15-year-old Jenna Oakley of Danville was located in a motel parking lot in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

The statement says Oakley and 20-year-old Kenneth R. Nigh of Arlington, Indiana, were found sitting in a car that had been reported stolen Thursday following the death of Oakley's stepmother.

The statement says Nigh was charged with one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Trial To Start For Rio Rancho Officer's Alleged Killer Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Court proceedings are set to begin this week in the trial of a man charged with shooting and killing a Rio Rancho police officer last year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that attorneys will begin jury selection in a Los Lunas courtroom Tuesday.

The trial of 29-year-old Andrew Romero was moved from Sandoval County to 40 miles south in Valencia County because of extensive media coverage of the case.

Police say Romero fatally shot Officer Gregg "Nigel" Benner during a routine traffic stop in May 2015.

Romero is facing first-degree murder and other charges.

Tabitha Littles, who was driving the vehicle carrying Romero, pleaded guilty last month to harboring a felon and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Four other charges were dropped in exchange for testimony against Romero.

On Road To 270, Arizona Is Home To Best Chance For A SpoilerAssociated Press

If Hillary Clinton carries Arizona in November, there's a good chance it's not because Democrats on their own have flipped a reliable GOP state they hope to win consistently someday.

Instead, Clinton and Democrats may have Gary Johnson to thank.

The Libertarian Party nominee's best chance to influence the presidential race may come in Arizona, where the former New Mexico governor appeals to a group of finicky conservatives who make up part of the GOP base.

About a dozen of the most contested states will help determine which candidate gets the 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. In Arizona, where the Republican nominee has carried the state in 11 of the past 12 presidential elections, Johnson could play the spoiler, potentially putting 11 electoral votes in Clinton's column.

Lawsuit Challenges Albuquerque Vehicle Seizure Policy Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A lawsuit says Albuquerque's vehicle seizure policy is unconstitutional and violates state forfeiture laws.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the city can seize vehicles from people with suspended or revoked licenses and drunken driving suspects who have a record of the offense.

Arlene Harjo is suing to end the practice and get back the vehicle her son was borrowing when he was stopped in April.

Harjo is represented by a team of New Mexico attorneys and the Institute for Justice.

City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said in a statement that the nuisance-abatement law gives owners protections to regain their vehicles.

She said state forfeiture laws do not apply to Albuquerque's policy.

Documents show auctioning seized vehicles or charging for their return brought the city over $8 million from 2010 through 2014.

With Prison Closure, New Mexico Towns Worry About Economy Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Two northwest New Mexico communities are bracing for the closure of a local prison next month.

The Cibola County Correctional Facility employs a staff of 300, all of whom reside in the towns of Milan, where the prison is, and nearby Grants.

Prison spokeswoman Traci Quintana told the Santa Fe New Mexican Saturday that many residents fear the local economy will suffer.

The center housed 1,200 minimum-security male inmates and only 400 still remain.

Quintana says the rest were already transferred.

According to Quintana, most of the inmates were immigrants from Mexico.

Immigration advocates say the privately-run prison provided poor health care.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced last month it was phasing out the use of some private prisons after an audit found more safety problems.

Father, Daughter Die In Flooded Arroyo In Tohatchi KOB-TV, Associated Press

A Navajo father and daughter in northwest New Mexico were found dead after trying to rescue a family pet from a flooded arroyo.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye expressed condolences in a statement Sunday for the deaths of Jay and Aschley Levier in Tohatchi.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports that 21-year-old Aschley Levier went into the water to save the family's dog Friday.

Witnesses say her 46-year-old father then followed to save her.

Both were swept away.

More than 100 volunteers searched for them.

Their bodies were discovered later in the day. The dog was found alive.

Areas of the Navajo Nation have recently been rife with flash flooding.

Begaye signed an emergency declaration last month in response to flood damage in Shiprock and Chinle, Arizona.

3rd Suspect In Albuquerque Girl's Death Avoided RegistryAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A woman charged in the rape and killing of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl was not required to register as a sex offender, despite a prior conviction for conspiracy to rape.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Saturday that current state law does not mandate registration for a conviction of conspiracy to commit criminal sexual penetration.

Jessica Kelley pleaded no contest to that charge for acting as a lookout while a woman allegedly raped another inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in September 2012.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to three years but got almost a year taken off for time served.

Legislation that would have required registration for conspiracy to commit certain sex offenses got unanimous approval in the state House last year but died in the Senate.

Airline To Offer Direct Flights Between Santa Fe, PhoenixAssociated Press

American Airlines will offer direct flights between Santa Fe and Phoenix starting next week.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales announced the new service Friday.

According to the airline, a flight will depart once a day from Phoenix to Santa Fe in the morning and head back in the other direction.

The flight will only offer 70 seats.

Gonzales says the new flight service will help bring more people to the city whether it's for tourism, films or other industries by being connected to another hub.

Tickets will go on sale beginning Monday.

Funeral Scheduled For Slain Alamogordo OfficerKOAT-TV, Associated Press

The funeral for officer Clint Corvinus will be held this coming Saturday on the branch campus of New Mexico State University in Alamogordo.

Corvinus was on patrol with another officer Friday when they encountered Joseph Moreno, who had three active arrest warrants. He fled on foot before gunfire erupted. Corvinus and Moreno were killed.

KOAT-TV reports Corvinus is survived by an 8-year-old daughter and a girlfriend. His death comes three weeks after an officer in the village of Hatch was gunned down during a traffic stop.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, extended sympathies to police. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican whose district includes Alamogordo, says the state has lost too many police officers in recent months and the "violence must end."

Moreno’s family is also preparing for his funeral and his sister expressed her sympathies to the Corvinus family as well. New Mexico State Police are investigating the shooting.

Rio Rancho Police Dog Healing After Being Hit By Driver KOAT-TV, Associated Press

A Rio Rancho police dog will soon be able to return to full-time duty after being hit by a car outside police headquarters.

KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reported Saturday that "Diesel" appears to have recovered from the incident.

Deputy Chief Paul Rogers says the dog and partner Officer J. Hickerson were playing in the parking lot and Diesel ran into an area used as a small access road for cars.

According to Rogers, 51-year-old Glenda Rougemont allegedly hit the canine and drove off.

Diesel was able to get up and run to Hickerson.

According to court documents, officers stopped Rougemont and arrested her for DWI.

It was not immediately known Sunday if she had an attorney.

Rougemont is scheduled to appear in municipal court later this month.

New Mexico Literacy Test May Cut Time Spent On ExamsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A new computer-based program used in public schools statewide to assess the literacy skills of children in grades K-3 may decrease the amount of time spent on exams.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state Public Education Department recently announced that all 89 school districts will use the new program.

Administrators say that, at $600,000 per year, the program costs significantly less for the state.

According to state officials, the longtime DIBELS program costs $1.3 million more and has been criticized for taking up too much time in the classroom.

Teachers have until mid-October to administer the tests.

However, some educators say they are worried they won't have sufficient prep time for the switch.