KUNM

New Mexico's Solar Telescope Gets Funding, First Responding Officer In Boyd Case Takes The Stand

Sep 23, 2016

Funding Aimed At New Mexico's Solar TelescopeThe Associated Press

More than $1 million from the National Science Foundation will help support efforts to transition the operation of New Mexico's solar telescope to a consortium led by New Mexico State University.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the funding Thursday.

The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope specializes in high resolution imaging and spectroscopy used by astronomers for a better understanding of the sun and how space weather affects the planet.

The National Solar Observatory currently operates the telescope. It expects to open a new telescope by 2018 in Hawaii. This opened the door for the consortium to take over and keep the New Mexico scope open.

Officials say the funding will bridge the gap by supporting science and operations for a two-year period starting at the end of 2017.

First Responding Officer In Boyd Case Takes The Stand - KRQE

Today in the murder trial of two former Albuquerque officers who shot and killed homeless camper James Boyd, the open space officer who made contact with Boyd first took the stand.  KRQE reports that he told the jury that Boyd was immediately hostile and threatened him with knives.

Later that evening, Boyd was shot and killed by officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez shot Boyd.

Prosecutors say the shooting was unnecessary. They also mentioned that the original officer decided not to shoot Boyd even though he was involved in a similar situation as Sandy and Perez. 

The lead investigator is expected to take the stand today too for cross-examination.

Jury Deliberating In New Mexico Officer's Death CaseThe Associated Press

The fate of a New Mexico man charged in the shooting death of a suburban Albuquerque police officer is now in the hands of a jury.

Jurors began deliberations Friday in a case involving Andrew Romero. The 29-year-old is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2015 death of Rio Rancho Officer Gregg Benner.

The case was moved from Sandoval County to 40 miles south in Valencia County because of extensive media coverage of the case.

In their closing, prosecutors said Romero was not too high on drugs to know what he was doing.

Defense attorneys say just because Romero's DNA was on the gun, it didn't prove Romero fired it.

Romero could face life without parole if convicted.

UNM President Robert Frank Says He Won't Seek A 2nd TermThe Associated Press

University of New Mexico President Robert Frank has announced that he won't seek to renew his contract after it ends next year.

Frank said Friday that he decided it was best to let the Board of Regents know of his intentions.

He was hired by UNM in January 2012 and his contract ends on May 31, 2017.

The regents now have eight months to choose the school's 22nd president.

On Thursday, Frank announced the university will put a freeze on hiring, and all college officials will perform departmental audits of temporary and part-time staff positions.

Those positions that aren't deemed to be critical will likely be cut.

With declining enrollment and a smaller allotment from the cash-strapped state, UNM is bracing to have $22.5 million less to spend in fiscal year 2017.

Candidate Accused Of Illegally Applying For Absentee BallotsThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

A former state Senate candidate has been accused of illegally applying for absentee ballots in the names of three dead people in 2014.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Carlos Villanueva, a Democrat, says he didn't break the law and that he intends to plead not guilty.

A grand jury on Thursday charged Villanueva with three counts of unlawful absentee ballot application and three counts of unlawful absentee ballot possession. He also faces charges of perjury and conspiracy to committee forgery.

Villanueva tells the Journal that he was merely testing the election system when he applied for the ballots. He says election officials should have refused to mail the ballots.

He also says that when he did receive the ballots, he turned them in to state elections officials.

Villanueva unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in 2012.

Another Feature Film To Use Albuquerque As BackdropThe Associated Press 

The latest feature film to use Albuquerque as a backdrop will star a few actors of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" fame.

Steven Michael Quesada, Vincent McDaniel and Jermaine Washington are among the actors in "Furthest Witness," which is shooting through the beginning of October in Albuquerque.

The production will employ nearly four dozen New Mexico crew members, 30 principal actors from the state and 30 background talent.

Produced by Elevated Pictures and directed by Adam Del Guidice, the movie follows a man who has spent the last decade moving witnesses over the border to Mexico and has always avoided confrontation or suspicion until now.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says the film industry has a strong economic impact on the city with its high-paying and creative jobs.

Facebook Eyes Forum For New Mexico Hispanic Small BusinessesAssociated Press

Facebook is holding a workshop for New Mexico Hispanic small businesses days after announcing it is building a new data center in the state.

The social media giant and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are hosting the Albuquerque seminar Friday to show businesses how to have a better presence on Facebook.

A Facebook small business expert will give a presentation on the latest practices and strategies for success.

The Menlo Park, California-based Facebook announced earlier this month it had selected New Mexico for a new data center over Utah.

The largely Hispanic village of Los Lunas, New Mexico, agreed to give up all property taxes for 30 years in exchange for annual payments starting at $50,000 and topping out at under $500,000.

Attorney Says Ex-Senator Singled Out By ProsecutorsAssociated Press

A defense attorney for former state Senator Phil Griego says state prosecutors are placing an undue amount of scrutiny on the longtime politician in response to a new search warrant of bank records.

Court documents filed this week show the New Mexico attorney general's office is probing deeper into Griego's prior campaign finances with the consent of a district court judge.

An investigator with the New Mexico attorney general's office has obtained a search warrant to access bank records for a political action committee that Griego allegedly helped create. Investigator Mark Pinto says Griego moved money between his campaign fund and the committee without disclosures required by law.

Defense attorney Thomas Clark represents Griego and said Thursday that state prosecutors appear to be singling out the ex-Senator and taking extreme measures.

Couple Charged With Murdering Relative, Kidnapping Her KidsAssociated Press

A California couple has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a relative and the kidnapping of her three young children.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced the charges Thursday against Joshua Robertson and Brittney Humphrey.

They're charged with killing Humphrey's half-sister, 26-year-old Kimberly Harvill.

Harvill's body was found with gunshot wounds along a road in a remote area of Los Angeles County on Aug. 14.

Robertson and Humphrey were arrested in Colorado on Aug. 25 a day after the three children they're charged with kidnapping were found safe in a New Mexico motel.

Robertson will be arraigned Thursday. Humphrey is awaiting extradition from Colorado.

Prosecutors are asking their bail be set at $2 million. It's unclear if they have attorneys.

Authority Selects New CEO For Spaceport AmericaAssociated Press

An engineer who has held senior management and planning posts at White Sands Missile Range is Spaceport America's new CEO.

The board of the authority that oversees the commercial spaceport in southern New Mexico announced Thursday the selection of Daniel Hicks to replace Christine Anderson.

Hicks' 34 years as an Army civilian employee at White Sands has included working on strategic planning and numerous programs involving missiles, sensors and space.

Hicks is expected to assume his new positon in November. He's a graduate of Las Cruces High School and New Mexico State University.

Another Feature Film To Use Albuquerque As BackdropAssociated Press  

The latest feature film to use Albuquerque as a backdrop will star a few actors of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" fame.

Steven Michael Quesada, Vincent McDaniel and Jermaine Washington are among the actors in "Furthest Witness," which is shooting through the beginning of October in Albuquerque.

The production will employ nearly four dozen New Mexico crew members, 30 principal actors from the state and 30 background talent.

Produced by Elevated Pictures and directed by Adam Del Guidice, the movie follows a man who has spent the last decade moving witnesses over the border to Mexico and has always avoided confrontation or suspicion until now.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says the film industry has a strong economic impact on the city with its high-paying and creative jobs.

Funding Aimed At New Mexico's Solar TelescopeAssociated Press  

More than $1 million from the National Science Foundation will help support efforts to transition the operation of New Mexico's solar telescope to a consortium led by New Mexico State University.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the funding Thursday.

The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope specializes in high resolution imaging and spectroscopy used by astronomers for a better understanding of the sun and how space weather affects the planet.

The National Solar Observatory currently operates the telescope. It expects to open a new telescope by 2018 in Hawaii. This opened the door for the consortium to take over and keep the New Mexico scope open.

Officials say the funding will bridge the gap by supporting science and operations for a two-year period starting at the end of 2017.

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