Las Cruces To Dedicate Women Veterans Monument, Ex-Senator Gets 18 Months In Prison

Feb 17, 2018

New Mexico City To Dedicate Women Veterans MonumentAssociated Press

The city of Las Cruces soon will be dedicating what officials are billing as one of only a few monuments that focus solely on women veterans.

The dedication ceremony for the collection of six life-sized bronze statues is planned for March 10 at Veterans Memorial Park in Las Cruces.

The statues honor each branch of the military and their uniforms represent different eras.

Officials say the special guests for the upcoming ceremony will include Captain Betty Somppi, a centenarian who served as an original member of the first Women Auxiliary Army Corp from 1942-1945.

A temporary photo exhibit of local women veterans also will be on display.

The Latest: New Mexico Ex-Senator Gets 18 Months In Prison Associated Press

A New Mexico district court judge has convened a sentencing hearing former state Sen. Phil Griego to decide on possible fines and jail time for corruption convictions.

Judge Brett Loveless held a hearing Thursday at a Santa Fe courtroom.

Griego has been convicted by a jury of fraud, bribery and felony ethical violations in a corruption trial over accusations he used his position as a lawmaker to profit from the sale of a state-owned building.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office is seeking a 10 year prison sentence and fines of $52,000.

Defense attorney Thomas Clark told the courtroom that jail time would be the equivalent of a death sentence because of Griego's age and health problems. Griego is 69.

Family members including a grandson adopted by Griego are asking the judge for leniency.

Nonprofit Behind Santa Fe Indian Market Names New Director Associated Press

The nonprofit behind the nearly century-old Santa Fe Indian Market has appointed a new executive director.

A spokeswoman for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts says Ira Wilson will take the helm of the organization, replacing Dallin Maybee.

Maybee, an artist and attorney, announced recently that he was stepping down from the position.

The annual Santa Fe Indian Market in August has been touted as one of the nation's most prestigious art markets.

Each August, it draws about 1,000 jewelers, potters and other artists, as well as roughly 150,000 people, to downtown Santa Fe.

The juried art market on the city plaza lasts two days.

Wilson, who is Navajo, joins the organization after 26 years with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Water Managers Along Rio Grande Prep For Irrigation Season Associated Press

Federal water managers say they're preparing for the upcoming irrigation season in southern New Mexico.

The Bureau of Reclamation said Friday water releases from Elephant Butte Dam will begin on Feb. 23 and releases from Caballo Dam to the south will follow on March 16.

Officials are warning that dry riverbeds below both reservoirs will take on water quickly. They're asking the public to stay out of the river channels for their safety.

Flows are expected to fluctuate through the spring and summer months according to downstream irrigation demands.

Due to a dismal snowpack in the mountains that fed the Rio Grande, little inflow is forecast for Elephant Butte this spring. The latest map shows snowpack levels in New Mexico are far below normal for this time of year.

Grand Jury Indicts New Mexico Man In 13-Year-Old Boy's Death Associated Press

A grand jury has indicted a New Mexico man on a count of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's stepson.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Thomas Wayne Ferguson, the lead suspect in the death of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia, also has been indicted on kidnapping, child abuse, tampering with evidence and conspiracy charges.

The boy's mother, Tracy Ann Pena, and Ferguson's 19-year-old son, Jordan Nunez, are also charged in the case. Court documents show a grand jury is expected to review evidence against them March 6.

According to court documents, Nunez told investigators that Ferguson tortured the boy "for no apparent reason," beating him with brass knuckles, a cane, a homemade spear, a hammer and steel toe boots.

His body was found buried along a rural highway last month.

Canadian Squadron Heading Home After Training In New Mexico Associated Press

A Royal Canadian Air Force squadron is headed home to Alberta after visiting Holloman Air Force Base to take advantage of more favorable weather conditions in southern New Mexico.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that F-18 jets flown by 401Tactical Tactical Fighter Squadron from Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake trained alongside Holloman's F-16s to learn about each other's air combat tactics.

Royal Canadian Air Force Lt. Col Forrest Rock says the cold and snow in Canada limits the unit's training at home during winter.

Rock says the squadron exceeded the number of flight hours and sorties it had planned and was able to re-qualify several types of missions thanks to training facilities at Holloman.

New Mexico Authorities: 6 Charged In Sex-Trafficking Ring Associated Press

Authorities say six people have been charged in connection with running a New Mexico-based sex trafficking operation.

Felicia Maggard, a Bernalillo County Sheriff spokeswoman, said Friday that online and cellphone records indicate that three Albuquerque juveniles were forced into prostitution between February 2017 and January as part of the operation. She says 12 adult sex workers also were pulled into it.

According to the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, the investigation into the ring began in mid-January with the finding that a 16-year-old girl was being sold for sex online in Phoenix.

Four of those charged in the case have been arrested. They have been identified as Camara Cherry-Amos, Jason Jackson, Andrew Wyatt, Chante Bickham.

Arrest warrants are outstanding for suspects Destiny Way and John Dompierre.

Officials: Man Obsessed With Youtube Stars Likely Shot Self Associated Press

Authorities say a New Mexico man who traveled to Austin to kill and rob two YouTube celebrities likely died of a self-inflicted gunshot after being confronted by police.

The Travis County medical examiner's office says that Christopher Giles was struck by police fire on Jan. 26 but the preliminary determination is he died by suicide.

Police say Giles shot out a glass door and entered the home of YouTube stars Gavin Free and Megan Turney after becoming infatuated with Turney and jealous of their relationship.

The couple called Austin police while hiding in a closet. Officers arrived and exchanged gunfire with Giles in the driveway.

A search of Giles' cellphone and electronics by investigators in Albuquerque, New Mexico, returned notes revealing his plans and his obsession with the couple.