Officer Rejects Plea Deal In Homeless Man's Death, ConocoPhillips To Sell Assets In San Juan Basin

Nov 14, 2016

Attorney: Officer Rejects Plea Deal In Homeless Man's DeathThe  Associated Press

A defense attorney says a former Albuquerque police detective charged with second-degree murder last year in the on-duty shooting death of a homeless camper turned down a plea deal offer from a special prosecutor.

The attorney for retired Detective Keith Sandy said Monday he rejected the offer to plead guilty to a lesser charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery in the 2014 shooting because the shooting was justified and he did not commit a crime.

In exchange, special prosecutor Randi McGinn would have cleared charges against Dominique Perez, the other officer in the case.

McGinn says she wouldn't have presented arguments at Sandy's sentecing hearing had he accepted the offer.

Jurors deadlocked last month on whether to convict the officers in the shooting after a two-week trial. A judge rescheduled a new trial for July.

ConocoPhillips Plans To Sell Assets In San Juan BasinThe Daily Times, Associated Press

A Houston-based oil and gas company plans to sell its assets in northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado.

The Daily Times reports that ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Davy Kong confirmed plans to sell the assets in the San Juan Basin over the next two years.

ConocoPhillips has operated in the basin for more than 50 years and is the largest operator in the region with thousands of wells.

The company employs approximately 500 people in the area, and San Juan County CEO Kim Carpenter said he hopes no jobs will be lost.

County Commissioner Scott Eckstein said it's too soon to say what the company's move will mean for the county.

ConocoPhillips on Oct. 27 reported a third-quarter loss of $1.04 billion. The results beat Wall Street expectations.

Firms, Patients Brace For Changes In Health Care LawThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

Health care companies in New Mexico are bracing for the likelihood that some parts of President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul could be undone by President-elect Donald Trump.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that New Mexico-based insurance and hospital system executives believe it's too early to tell how things would proceed.

But most of them agreed they would have to adjust their business operations after Trump begins working with a Republican Congress eager to end or at least significantly change the law.

The reaction was immediate for one group of policy-holders as phone lines burned up last week at the offices of the state health care exchange set up after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

New Mexicans moved quickly to lock in another year of coverage.

New Mexico Driver's License Overhaul Provides 2 New OptionsAssociated Press

New Mexico driver's licenses are getting an overhaul to comply with tougher federal identification requirements without forsaking people who are in the country illegally.

The state's Motor Vehicle Division on Monday began issuing two kinds of identification. One is a driver's license that complies with the federal REAL ID Act, and the other is a driving authorization card geared toward immigrants.

Existing driver's licenses will continue to be valid for boarding flights and accessing certain federal facilities until October 2020. Delays are expected nonetheless at Motor Vehicle Division offices.

State officials recommend applicants for the new driver's license bring a birth certificate, social security card and two proofs of residency. Immigrants in the country illegally must submit fingerprints for a background check to obtain a driving authorization card.

Ex-New Mexico Governor's Next Challenge Is A Bicycle TripAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson says he has no regrets about running for president for the second time and finishing a distant runner-up as a Libertarian candidate.

He's already talking about his next challenge and it won't be another try for public office.

The 63-year-old Johnson says he plans to bicycle, riding nearly 3,000 miles along the Continental Divide from Canada down into New Mexico sometime in early June.

Johnson told the Albuquerque Journal that he is dedicating himself to health and fitness.

He says if he may stay politically active, but not as a candidate.

Johnson says he'll leave that to others.

Prisons Fight Opioids With $1,000 Injection: Does It Work?Associated Press

U.S. prisons are experimenting with a high-priced monthly injection that could help addicted inmates stay off opioids after they are released.

It's called Vivitrol. And proponents say it could be effective in the fight against the opioid epidemic affecting 2 million Americans and a portion of the prison population.

Vivitrol isn't habit-forming, unlike older drugs like methadone, which can be abused.

But it costs significantly more — about $1,000 a month, compared with methadone which runs about $30 a month. Skeptics question its effectiveness and say the manufacturer has pushed an unproven drug onto corrections officials.

Supporters say Vivitrol can save money by keeping people from returning to prison.

Work Progresses On Doña Ana County Veterans CourtLas Cruces Sun News, Associated Press

A veterans court in Doña Ana County is a few months away from its start as officials put in the last pieces of infrastructure for the program.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the court would allow veterans or active-duty military members who are charged with crimes to choose treatment programs rather than jail time.

District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said grants and other funding sources can be pursued once the program is up and running.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he hopes the Doña Ana County program achieves encouraging results similar to veteran treatment courts in Bernalillo County.

A veterans court in Albuquerque has had 42 out of 75 participants graduate.

The court has fewer repeat offenders at 7.1 percent compared to the national rate of 43 percent.

Espanola Police, Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Shooting ProbedAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say they're investigating a non-fatal shooting involving Espanola police and the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office.

They say Espanola police responded to a stolen vehicle call around 2 p.m. Saturday.

Authorities say the vehicle was found and a pursuit ensued on State Road 503.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff's officers joined in the pursuit and eventually halted the vehicle using stop sticks.

Police say the suspect rammed several police vehicles trying to escape, resulting in officers and deputies firing shots at the vehicle.

The suspect and passenger both escaped injury and both have been taken into custody.

The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau is investigating the shooting.

Idea For A Public Bank In Santa Fe Back For More DiscussionAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Creating a public bank in Santa Fe is coming back for a new round of public discussion.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal is calling for the formation of a task force to determine whether the city should move forward with the establishment of a public bank.

Two other councilors have signed on to co-sponsor Villarreal's proposal, but some outside city government and with experience in the banking industry remain skeptical.

The resolution calls for the formation of a task force to prepare an application for a New Mexico bank charter and report back to the City Council in six months.

Santa Fe reportedly spent $50,000 to contract with a consulting and project management firm that determined that starting up such a bank was feasible.

Mother, Boyfriend Arrested After Girl Burned With LighterKOB-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque woman and her boyfriend are facing charges after her young daughter was burned with a lighter.

Authorities say 30-year-old Gregory Pierce and 29-year-old Julia Kirsch both are being held on suspicion of child abuse. They say Kirsch also is accused of intimidation of a witness.

KOB-TV says the grandmother of the 8-year-old girl called police when she saw the burn on the child's arm.

According to court documents, the girl told her grandmother that Pierce held a lighter to her arm.

Kirsch told investigators her daughter showed her the burn immediately after the incident, but she didn't believe Pierce did it.

Pierce and Kirsch have posted $20,000 bonds after their initial court appearances Saturday.

It wasn't immediately clear Sunday if either Pierce or Kirsch has a lawyer yet.