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Man Dies From West Nile Virus, Jury Selection Set For ABQ Police In Shooting Death

Sep 9, 2016

Valencia County Man Dies From West Nile VirusAssociated Press

New Mexico Department of Health officials say a 63-year-old Valencia County man has died from West Nile virus.

They say the man developed neuroinvasive disease and was hospitalized before his death.

It's the second human case of West Nile infection identified in New Mexico this year and the state's first West Nile fatality in 2016.

The man's name wasn't released Thursday.

Last year, the New Mexico Department of Health identified 14 cases of West Nile virus in people, including 12 with neuroinvasive disease. There were no fatalities.

Authorities say there are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile.

They say people over 50 and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus.

Jury Selection Set For Albuquerque Police In Shooting DeathThe Associated Press

Jury selection is expected to begin next week in the murder trial for two former police officers charged in the on-duty shooting death of a homeless man who authorities say struggled with mental illness.

The March 2014 shooting followed a standoff between 38-year-old James Boyd and police.

Video from the helmet camera of Officer Dominique Perez, one of the officers charged in the case, shows Boyd on a hillside with knives in hand. A flash of bean bag rounds goes off before Boyd, who appeared to be turning away from police, is shot and falls to the ground.

Outcry over the shooting set off protests two years ago in Albuquerque over police use-of-force — a topic that has since become a hot-button issue nationwide.

Jurors must decide whether Boyd posed a life-threatening danger to police.

Report: Federal Official In New Mexico Took Gifts, MealsThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican 

A new report is raising questions about a former federal Bureau of Land Management official who worked in New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://goo.gl/idXfJe) a U.S. Interior Department report made public this week says Steve Henke may have violated agency policy and federal law by accepting gifts and meals.

Henke served the manager of the bureau's Farmington Field Office before taking a top job with New Mexico's largest oil and gas trade organization in 2010.

The report says Henke accepted gifts and meals and didn't financially disclose them. It also says Henke may have influenced witnesses, including his wife and staff, to convey false information to inspectors.

Henke told The Associated Press he stood by his record and believed the report "lacked depth."

New Mexico Ballot To Include Alternative To Trump, ClintonThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican 

A group backed by Republicans who don't support their party's presidential nominee has won a spot on New Mexico's ballot, potentially giving the state's voters another choice in the presidential election.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the group, Better for America, says it will find a third party alternative to Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The party's efforts to recruit someone have slowed, however, because its biggest supporters have been focusing on independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin of Utah. McMullin has already secured ballot spots in several states and Better for America is expected to nominate him as its candidate in New Mexico.

McMullin is a former CIA officer, Goldman Sachs associate and Republican congressional staffer.

Southeastern New Mexico DA's Office Faces Budget CrisisThe Associated Press & The Roswell Daily Record

A district attorney's office in southeastern New Mexico is facing a budget crisis and will cut cutting personnel.

The Roswell Daily Record reports Fifth Judicial District Court District Attorney Diana Luce said last week her office has asked the Legislature for a 1.5 percent budget increase.

The Fifth Judicial District Court covers Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties and includes Roswell.

Luce says cases have continued to increase with the office prosecuting 6,595 cases during the last fiscal year. She says that's an increase of 249 cases.

Roswell Police Chief Philip Smith says he is disappointed to about the cuts the DA's office is being forced to make.

The crisis comes as Democratic state lawmakers and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez fight over details of a looming special session on the state's budget

YouTube Video Shot Inside NM Medical Pot Grow Raises QuestionsThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal 

One of New Mexico's licensed marijuana producers is under fire after a YouTube music video featured the facility's marijuana as a backdrop.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a Sept. 1 letter from the state's Medical Cannabis Program asks New Mexico Top Organics - Ultra Health how hip-hop artist Versatile Verse managed to get inside the facility and what benefit the video offers to qualified patients or the program.

Ultra Health LLC President and CEO Duke Rodriquez says this isn't the first video they've had filmed in the facility but it is the first time the Department of Health has balked.

The facility was featured in the video for Versatile Verse's song "New Mexico," which has gained more than 3,500 views on YouTube.

Prosecutors Seek To Push Retrial In Deputy Shooting CaseThe Associated Press 

Prosecutors are asking that the retrial of a former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy accused of killing a fellow deputy in 2014 be moved to February.

The original retrial of Tai Chan was set for Nov. 28, but Chief Deputy District Attorney Gerald Byers filed a stipulated motion Sept. 2 asking that the new proceedings be moved. Chan had been charged with first-degree murder in fellow deputy Jeremy Martin's death.

Prosecutors say reconvening witnesses for a trial during the holiday season would be more difficult and expensive than delaying the trial.

Chan and Martin were in Las Cruces the night of the shooting in October 2014, staying at a hotel after transporting prisoners to Arizona.

Chan's attorneys say the shooting was in self-defense.

Santa Fe Airport's Removal Of Prairie Dog Draws Fire KOAT-TV, Associated Press

Santa Fe Municipal Airport officials' removal of prairie dogs is drawing scrutiny from some wildlife advocates.

KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports that's because the filling of prairie dog holes also is hurting the burrowing owl population.

Airport manager Cameron Humphres says prairie dogs attract birds of prey like burrowing owls, and both cause problems at the airport.

Humphres says planes have had four bird strikes at the airport in recent years, but the prairie dogs can also mess with the runway lighting.

But bird watcher Jim Walters says airport officials can do a better job at monitoring. He the owl population there has dropped from 68 to 2 since 2008.

Burrowing owls use the prairie dogs holes for their young.

Humphres says the airport is required to remove wildlife.

Trial Begins For Man Charged In Officer's DeathAssociated Press

Prosecutors have shown jurors video of the frantic moments that followed the shooting of a suburban Albuquerque police officer and emergency workers' efforts to render life-saving aid to him.

Law enforcement officers and the widow of Officer Gregg "Nigel" Benner watched through tears Thursday as the video played on a courtroom screen. Authorities say Benner was gunned down after a routine traffic stop on May 25, 2015.

The video came from the lapel camera of a Rio Rancho police officer who was called to testify during the first day of a trial for 29-year-old Andrew Romero.

Romero has been charged in Benner's death.

Romero also was in the courtroom when the roughly 11-minute video was shown.

His trial is expected to last as long as three weeks.

New Mexico Governor, Lawmakers No Closer To Special SessionAssociated Press

Democratic New Mexico lawmakers are complaining that Gov. Susana Martinez hasn't offered a plan to fill the state's budget hole.

The Republican governor says she's already asked the agencies under her control to cut back and has promised to call a special legislative session once lawmakers have concrete proposals for shoring up the state's finances.

But there's no indication either side is closer to an agreement as New Mexico faces a $458 million shortfall that's tied to weak tax revenues and New Mexico's dependence on oil and natural gas development.

Lawmakers must also address a nearly quarter-billion-dollar deficit from last fiscal year.

Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan accused Senate Democrats of playing politics in an election year.

Sen. John Arthur Smith dismissed that claim, saying Thursday that everything needs to be on the table regardless of campaign promises.

Population Growth Of US Latinos Slows, Study SaysAssociated Press

A new report says the population growth of U.S. Latinos slowed down considerably over the last seven years because of lower immigration and declining birthrates.

A Pew Research Center report released Thursday found that the U.S. Hispanic population grew by an average of 2.8 percent each year between 2007 and 2014.

That's down from the 4.4 percent annual growth from 2000 to 2007 before the Great Recession.

The study says the expansion of the Hispanic population, once the fastest growing in the nation, has slipped behind Asian-Americans.

However, the study says some locations in states with traditionally small Latino populations are seeing a big jump in Hispanic residents. That includes the Dakotas, Carolinas, Utah and Tennessee.

Navajo Lawmaker Ordered To Pay Back $10K In Slush Fund Case Gallup Independent, Associated Press

A former Navajo Nation lawmaker has been ordered to pay $10,000 for his involvement in misusing the tribe's discretionary fund.

The Gallup Independent reports that Navajo Nation Window Rock District Court judge has already sentenced the majority of the lawmakers involved in the case. Prosecutors say all 10 delegates abused a financial assistance program designed to help tribal members facing hard times.

Judge Carol Perry on Tuesday ordered former Council Delegate Lean Manheimer to pay $10,000 in restitution to the tribe under a two-year payment plan.

Manheimer pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit bribery.

Two former lawmakers are still awaiting sentencing.

New Mexico School Board To Revisit Gun Policy Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A school board in New Mexico will revisit its policy about storing guns on campus.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Los Alamos school board recently decided to allow the local police department to keep AR-15 rifles and shotguns in safes at the district's middle and high school. The firearms are meant to help school resource officers if there is a shooter on campus.

School Board President James Hall said Wednesday that the board will discuss the topic again at its next meeting because of concern from parents.

Hall says he doesn't expect the board to change its vote.

Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone says the long rifles and shotguns would let officers better match the firepower of an active shooter.

Gary Johnson Says He 'Blanked' On AleppoAssociated Press

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson says he, "blanked" when he was asked about the name of Syria's largest city.

Johnson said in a statement that he thought Aleppo was an acronym when asked about it on the television show "Morning Joe" Thursday morning. Johnson responded, "What is Aleppo?" That response quickly went viral.

The former governor of New Mexico said in his statement that he "blanked," and added, "It happens and it will happen again during the course of this campaign."

Johnson is in the midst of a media blitz in New York City as he tries to reach 15 percent in national polls. That's the threshold needed for him to have a spot in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.

Southeastern New Mexico DA's Office Faces Budget Crisis Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

A district attorney's office in southeastern New Mexico is facing a budget crisis and will cut cutting personnel.

The Roswell Daily Record reports Fifth Judicial District Court District Attorney Diana Luce said last week her office has asked the Legislature for a 1.5 percent budget increase.

The Fifth Judicial District Court covers Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties and includes Roswell.

Luce says cases have continued to increase with the office prosecuting 6,595 cases during the last fiscal year. She says that's an increase of 249 cases.

Roswell Police Chief Philip Smith says he is disappointed to about the cuts the DA's office is being forced to make.

The crisis comes as Democratic state lawmakers and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez fight over details of a looming special session on the state's budget

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