Saturday News Roundup: Crime Spree Ends With 1 Suspect Dead

Dec 28, 2013

NM Police: Crime Spree Ends With 1 Suspect Dead - The Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say one suspect is dead and two others are in custody following a crime spree that stretched from Albuquerque to the village of Placitas.

Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez says it began late Friday when Albuquerque police began pursuing shoplifting suspects in a stolen vehicle.

The chase headed north on Interstate 25, with Albuquerque police tracking the vehicle by helicopter. A state police officer then began following the speeding vehicle.

The pursuit ended in Placitas as the three passengers got out of the car and fled on foot. They shot at police but the officers did not return fire.

Two suspects came out of the woods and surrendered, while the third died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Gutierrez says the case remains under investigation.

Navajo Council Approves Mine Proposal - The Farmington Daily Times

The Navajo Nation Council has approved a measure that would let disputes over a northwestern New Mexico coal mine that's being bought on behalf of the tribe be settled in state courts rather than tribal courts.

The council voted 17-5 in favor of the measure during a special session Friday in Window Rock, Ariz.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that a number of tribal delegates, attorneys and risk management experts met for about an hour in executive session before the vote.

Zurich American Insurance Company had asked the tribe to waive its sovereign immunity and settle any arbitration in New Mexico and Arizona courts before it and another company issue $500 million in bonds and insurances to a tribal company set up to purchase the mine.

Changes Streamline Process For NM Businesses - The Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico businesses no longer have to wait months to get their legal paperwork from the state thanks to changes at the Corporations Bureau.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that since the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office took over the bureau, the average wait has been cut to three days.

Under the Public Regulation Commission, the wait used to be nearly four months.

The bureau is also being run on a $1.1 million annual budget, compared with $3.8 million under the PRC.

The details were outlined in a report this month to the Legislative Finance Committee.

When the Secretary of State's Office inherited the bureau, officials say there was an average 110-day waiting period to process documents and register corporations. That backlog has now been eliminated.

Former Homeland Security Bureau Chief Sues - The Santa Fe New Mexican 

The former head of the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's Intelligence and Security Bureau is accusing his bosses of retaliation.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Richard Clark filed his lawsuit earlier this month in state district court. It names cabinet Secretary Gregory Myers and Assistant Secretary Anita Tallarico Statman.

Clark is suing under laws protecting whistleblowers and members of the armed services.

Clark says he was demoted earlier this year after trying to help one of his staff, a National guardsman, document scheduled military trainings on his time sheets.

A department spokesman says Clark could have appealed his demotion through the personnel process. The department is challenging many of Clark's claims, but the spokesman declined to comment further since the case is in court.

NM County Treasurer Faces Recall Petition - The Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz is facing a recall petition.

Ortiz's office has been the subject of a state audit, and the county commission recently voted no confidence in Ortiz.

The petition filed last week in state court accuses Ortiz of mismanaging county investments and other malfeasance warranting his removal from office.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the petition was delivered to Ortiz on Friday. It seeks court approval to circulate a petition that could force the treasurer into a recall election.

Some 45,000 signatures would be needed to trigger an election.

Ortiz has repeatedly defended his work. He has said he sees no grounds for recall.

A hearing to decide whether the petition can move forward for signature-gathering is scheduled Jan. 9 before Judge Beatrice Brickhouse.

Police: New Mexico Mom Admits To Kicking Child - The Associated Press

An Albuquerque mother is facing child abuse charges in the death of her young son.

Officer Simon Drobik says police were called to a home in the city's northeast heights Friday night after getting a 911 call from the mother, 38-year-old Synthia Varela-Casaus.

She initially told police her 9-year-old son was playing with his 3-year-old brother when the older brother was thrown from a bouncing toy horse and hit his head.

The boy was pronounced dead after being taken to an Albuquerque hospital.

Medical personnel saw multiple injuries on the boy's body. Drobik says the mother later told detectives she kicked the boy in the stomach during an argument, causing him to hit his head.

The mother told detectives she repeatedly kicked the boy while he was on the floor.

NM Representatives Push To Preserve Native American Seeds - The Associated Press

Two members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are pushing for the preservation of Native American seeds.

Legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan would focus on those seeds that are used for cultural, religious, medicinal, ceremonial and agricultural purposes.

Under the measure, tribes could get grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for research, education and training programs aimed at protecting the purity of Native American seeds.

The legislation would also allow for the construction of seed storage facilities.

At Tesuque Pueblo in northern New Mexico, Tribal Gov. Mark Mitchell says environmental contaminants and other factors are threatening the integrity of the community's native seeds.

The legislation has been referred to the House Agriculture Committee.

Albuquerque Zoo's Newest Residents To Make Debut - The Associated Press

The Albuquerque BioPark is welcoming four Tasmanian devils to the zoo.

The animals will make their public debut Monday. After that, visitors will be able to see the Tasmanian devils daily in the zoo's Australia area.

BioPark Director Rick Janser says officials have been working to bring the Tasmanian devils to Albuquerque for the past 10 years. The BioPark is the second facility in the U.S. to house Tasmanian devils.

The dog-sized marsupials have spent the past week settling in after arriving from Australia's Healesville Sanctuary.

Tasmanian devils are found only on the island of Tasmania. Some wild populations have declined by more than 80 percent due to a contagious, fatal cancer first detected in 1996.

While scientists search for a cure, zoos are raising a healthy, cancer-free insurance population.

Planned NM Trading Post To Help 'Struggling Women' - The Hobbs News-Sun

A planned trading post in Hobbs aims to help struggling women learn new skills.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports reports that the planned Heaven's Host Trading Post will assist women and children facing hardship get back on their feet.

Organizer Lara Zamora says she is funding the trading post by incorporating her party planning and event coordinating service.

Zamora says the goal is to start with the trading post, but eventually expand to include "a community for women and children who are struggling."

She says the trading post will be located across from the Lea County Airport and on acreage that was formerly Don Rogers Wrecking Yard.

Zamora is accepting donations and seeking volunteers to kick off the project.