New Mexico Police To Watch For Drunken Drivers, Las Cruces Using Herd Of Goats To Clear Vegetation

May 27, 2017

New Mexico Police To Watch For Drunken DriversAssociated Press

New Mexico state police officers are planning a series of sobriety checkpoints around the state.

Officials say the checkpoints and advertising highlighting the state's enforcement efforts are aimed at reducing alcohol-related fatalities.

Data from the state Transportation Department and the University of New Mexico shows 113 people have died in alcohol-related crashes in the first four months of 2017. That's less than the first quarter the previous year.

In 2016, a total of 175 people died in alcohol-related crashes. That accounted for more than 40 percent of New Mexico's traffic fatalities last year.

Officials say New Mexico's alcohol-related death rate has consistently been nearly twice the national rate for the past two decades.

State police says they'll also be checking driver's licenses and reviewing vehicle registrations and insurance during June's checkpoints.

Las Cruces Using Herd Of Goats To Clear Vegetation Along Dam Associated Press

Las Cruces officials say dozens of rented goats is having success in reducing brush and other vegetation along a nearly 3-mile-long dam in the southern New Mexico city.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the herd of goats started at one end of the dam about a year ago and have gradually moved toward the other end while enclosed by a movable fence.

Street and Traffic Operations Administrator Willie Roman says use of the goats is a safe way to clear the dam's slanted surface.

The city embarked on the project because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected the dam and advised that the amount of vegetation on the barrier be reduced.

Las Cruces previously used goats to clear weeds at a lake and at a flood-control drainage.

Jury Convicts 2 Suspected In Death Of An Albuquerque Woman Associated Press

Two people suspected in the death of an Albuquerque woman have been convicted by a Valencia County jury.

Prosecutors say Shane Foster was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder with a firearms enhancement, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

They say Renee Foster was convicted of tampering with evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Sentencing dates haven't been set yet.

New Mexico State Police say they received information in December 2015 about 30-year-old Casimirio Ramirez, who was missing at the time.

Police executed search warrants at two Los Lunas residences and evidence gathered led to the recovery of Ramirez's body from a shallow grave near the Rio Grande River in January 2016.

The Fosters were arrested and booked into jail. Their trial began last week.

New Mexico Governor Restores University Funds, Vetoes Taxes Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed a string of tax proposals passed by lawmakers but has signed legislation that restores funding to state colleges and universities.

The Republican governor on Friday approved legislation to reinstate roughly $745 million in spending on state institutions of higher education that include university hospitals and medical research facilities.

The bill also reinstates funding to the Legislature for the fiscal year starting July 1.

She initially vetoed the funding in April as part of a standoff with lawmakers over how to resolve a budget crisis.

On Friday, she vetoed for a second time several tax increases that lawmakers say are needed to shore up state finances.

A rebound in tax revenues in February and March removed some of the pressure on recent budget negotiations.

Illinois Men Accused Of Sexually Assaulting New Mexico Girl Associated Press

Authorities say two Illinois men have been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a girl when she lived in New Mexico.

New Mexico State Police say 24-year-old Robert Hull and 31-year-old Bryan Huber were taken into custody in Loves Park, Illinois by the U.S. Marshals Service.

State Police say they received a report last June from an officer with the Albany, Oregon Police Department about a journal written by an alleged victim, who was 14 at the time.

The victim allegedly wrote in the journal details about how she was sexually assaulted when she lived in New Mexico.

The journal's discovery led to a multi-state investigation.

Police say Huber and Hull both are accused of criminal sexual contact of a minor.

It was unclear Friday if either man has a lawyer.

Body Of Hiker Who Fell Into Canyon Near Alamogordo Recovered Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say the body of a hiker who fell about 250 feet into a deep canyon east of Alamogordo has been recovered.

They say 19-year-old David Morales was hiking with a teenage friend on the trails adjacent to the Tunnel Vista area when he fell into the canyon about 5 p.m. Thursday.

Police say the teen had to hike back out to get help and waved down vehicles on U.S. 82.

Crews from the U.S. Border Patrol, Otero County Sheriff's Office and volunteer fire departments from surrounding communities helped State Police start a search and rescue mission.

A Border Patrol helicopter used infrared technology to locate Morales' dead body Thursday night and rescuers recovered the Alamogordo man's body Friday morning.

State Police say they're investigating the death.

Albuquerque Curbs Arrests, Jail Time For Minor Crimes Associated Press

A special order directing Albuquerque police to scale back on arrests for two dozen non-violent misdemeanor offenses marks the latest reform in New Mexico's largest city that aims to ease arrests and jail time for low-level offenders.

The May 10 order — spurred by a recent settlement agreement in a long-running lawsuit over local jail conditions — follows a voter-approved constitutional amendment in November that bars the courts from keeping inmates jailed solely because they can't afford bail, while allowing judges to deny bail to those considered exceptionally dangerous.

Criminal justice reform advocates nationwide have focused on reducing arrests and prosecutions for non-violent infractions — such as panhandling, prostitution and marijuana possession — that they say often disproportionately involve the homeless, people with mental illness and minorities.

Navajo Nation Proposes Lease Extension For Coal Power Plant Associated Press

The Navajo Nation has introduced legislation to extend the lease on the coal-fired power plant in northern Arizona so it can operate through 2019.

The Arizona Republic reported Thursday that the lease extension would allow for the Navajo Generating Station to be used through December 2019 and then be torn down. If the tribe does not approve a lease extension by July 1, the plant will have to close at the end of this year to be torn down by 2020.

If the deal is approved, the Navajo Nation will earn $110 million in lease payments throughout the next 35 years. This is because the generating stations owners will be required to monitor the land after the facilities are removed.

The tribe also hopes to keep several pieces of the operation when it closes.