KUNM

State Looks To Dismiss Nuke Lab Lawsuit, Girl's Slaying Prompts Probation Review

Sep 1, 2016

State Looks To Dismiss Lawsuit Over Federal Nuke Lab Cleanup – The Associated Press 

The New Mexico Environment Department is asking a federal court to dismiss a watchdog group's lawsuit over a cleanup effort at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapons factories.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed its lawsuit in federal court in May, naming the U.S. Energy Department and Los Alamos National Security LLC as defendants.

The lawsuit points to a dozen violations. It says the defendants are liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties for failing to comply with a 2005 cleanup agreement with state officials.

In a motion filed Thursday, the Environment Department argues that a new agreement made in 2016 invalidates the 2005 agreement the lawsuit is based on and therefore the lawsuit should be dismissed.

Nuclear Watch officials call the argument "flimsy."

Martens Murder Prompts Review Of Probation Policies – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The brutal slaying of 10-year-old Victoria Martens has spurred a review of probation enforcement since one of those charged in the crime avoided supervised probation for two years.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel instructed his staff to review probation records dating back to Jan. 1, 2015, in an effort to find if the case of Fabian Gonzales was part of larger pattern.

Gonzales was supposed to be on supervised probation from an unrelated case, but he wasn't being monitored by probation officers. Deputy Corrections Secretary Alex Sanchez said her agency never received a judgment and sentencing order in a previous case involving Gonzales.

Court officials say their records show the information was uploaded to the agency in February 2015.

ENMU Campuses Preparing For State High Ed Funding CutsThe Associated Press & The Portales News Tribune 

Eastern New Mexico University satellite presidents say they expect higher education funding cuts amid a state budget shortfall.

The Portales News Tribune reports that all three campus presidents told ENMU board members last week that they are already making cutbacks in anticipation of state funds decreasing.

ENMU-Ruidoso President Clayton Alred says the Ruidoso campus will likely experience a $100,000 shortfall this fiscal year due to the state budget cuts. He says faculty member retired last year, and the campus will not re-hire for that position right away as a means to combat the shortfall.

ENMU-Roswell President John Madden says the Roswell campus has deactivated some programs and has improved electronic systems in anticipation of cuts.

Judge To Allow Evidence From Search Of New Mexico RanchThe Associated Press & The Gallup Independent

A federal judge says he will not suppress evidence gathered by New Mexico State Police during a search of an Indian trader's ranch.

The Gallup Independent reports that U.S. District Court Judge James Parker on Friday rejected a motion by Steve Coleman's attorney to suppress all the evidence from the January search of Coleman's Thoreau ranch.

Parker did acknowledge some concerns about how police searched the ranch.

The U.S. Attorney's Office will be able to use the more than 60 guns and rifles taken from Coleman's property to make its case for charges of possession of a firearm.

Coleman's lawyer, Tova Indritz, argued that the search was unreasonable because it lasted more than 13 hours, officers from other jurisdictions were present and the photos taken were invasive.

Prosecutor: Wounded Officer Justified In Returning GunfireThe Associated Press & KRQE

The chief prosecutor for Bernalillo County says an Albuquerque police officer was justified in returning fire from a suspected drunk driver who wounded the officer four times.

KRQE-TV reports District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said in a letter to Police Chief Gordon Eden that Officer Lou Olson was clearly acting in self-defense in the January 2015 incident.

Olson was seriously wounded when Christopher John Cook shot the officer as he approached an SUV that turned out to be stolen.

Cook ran from the scene, was the subject of a three-day manhunt and is now in prison.

Court records indicate Cook pleaded no-contest to charges that included possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner and shooting at or from a motor vehicle and causing great bodily harm.

New Mexico Man In Police Slamming Video Files Lawsuit Clovis News Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico man shown on a YouTube video getting slammed on asphalt by a Clovis officer during a traffic stop has filed a lawsuit.

The Clovis News Journal reports lawyers for Jorge Corona filed the lawsuit last month in Clovis District Court in connection with the August 2014 traffic stop.

According to the video, Officer Brent Aguilar is seen throwing a handcuffed Corona to the ground after Corona told the officer he didn't even ask for his name.

Prosecutors declined to pursue charges against Aguilar.

Corona is seeking an unspecified amount of damages including medical bills, attorney fees and lost earnings.

Clovis City Manager Larry Fry declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Anti-Wrinkle Vibrator Delays Flight At New Mexico AirportKOB-TV, Associated Press

A suspicious item found in the cabin of a Southwest Airlines plane that delayed a flight from Albuquerque to Denver earlier this week was a device that uses vibration to reduce facial wrinkles.

Albuquerque Aviation Police say the item was found in the seat back of a passenger's seat Monday evening.

The unidentified passenger reported the item to the flight crew and it was moved to the galley.

The plane was evacuated and taxied to a remote part of Albuquerque International Sunport and passengers were taken by bus back to the terminal.

Aviation police talked to the passenger that had found the item.

KOB-TV reports that police did a full sweep of the plane and passenger luggage and found nothing of concern.

Passengers were rescreened before boarding the plane again and flying to Colorado.

Police: Water Bottle On Manhole Closes Albuquerque StreetsAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say a suspicious device that was left on a road outside a courthouse and prompted authorities to close some streets was a water bottle.

It was left on a smoking manhole cover, prompting a scare that Officer Tanner Tixier says ended up being a false alarm.

Police said Wednesday morning that they were questioning a "suspect" as they investigated a potentially explosive device.

Tixier said the person who was being questioned had fled the area on foot. But it turned out, the man who was on his way to a meeting saw smoke coming from the manhole and placed a water bottle on it so that firefighters could find it after he was able to report his concern.

Smoke was coming out of the manhole because the city was testing its pipe systems.

ENMU Campuses Preparing For State High Ed Funding Cuts Portales News Tribune, Associated Press

Eastern New Mexico University satellite presidents say they expect higher education funding cuts amid a state budget shortfall.

The Portales News Tribune reports that all three campus presidents told ENMU board members last week that they are already making cutbacks in anticipation of state funds decreasing.

ENMU-Ruidoso President Clayton Alred says the Ruidoso campus will likely experience a $100,000 shortfall this fiscal year due to the state budget cuts. He says faculty member retired last year, and the campus will not re-hire for that position right away as a means to combat the shortfall.

ENMU-Roswell President John Madden says the Roswell campus has deactivated some programs and has improved electronic systems in anticipation of cuts.

Los Alamos Middle, High Schools To Have Gun Safes On CampusAssociated Press

Middle and high schools in Los Alamos will soon have gun safes full of shotguns and semi-automatic weapons on campus.

The Los Alamos School Board on Thursday approved Police Chief Dino Sgambellone's request to have police-owned gun safes installed inside the schools.

Sgambellone says the safes will help officers respond more quickly in the case of an active shooter. He says often valuable time is lost when officers have to run back out to their car to retrieve the weapons they need to handle a shooter situation.

The cases will be bolted down in a secure area an only police officers will have access to the equipment.

Sgambellone says the safes are still in planning stages and there are still a number of things to do before they are placed.

Navajo Nation Honors Tribal Policeman Killed In Car Crash Associated Press

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has ordered all flags in Chinle to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Saturday in memory of a tribal patrol officer killed in a car crash.

The Navajo Nation Police Department says Leander Frank died Tuesday after he was dispatched to a call in the Tsaile area.

Authorities say Frank's vehicle collided head-on with another car in the middle of Navajo Route 64 between Chinle and Tsaile.

Tribal officials say Frank was the 12th Navajo Police officer killed in the line of duty since 1975.

They say seven Navajo Police officers were killed by gunfire, three died in automobile accidents, one died after an assault and one succumbed to a heart attack.

Cold-Case Investigation Nets Arrest In 1996 Fatal BeatingAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say a cold-case investigation has resulted in the arrest of a 38-year-old man who confessed to a brutal 1996 killing after being confronted with DNA evidence that linked him to the crime scene.

A police affidavit says Jedidiah Ramon Rose initially denied involvement in the killing of Richard Brodbeck at Brodbeck's residence, but then admitted beating the victim in the head with a vase and another blunt object.

Police interviewed and then arrested Rose at his place of employment Tuesday.

Rose remained jail Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder, and it's not known whether he has an attorney.

According to the police affidavit, DNA evidence linked to Rose was found at 14 locations in Brodbeck's blood-stained residence, including on an adhesive bandage.

The victim's stereo and vehicle were missing.

Judge Grants Warrant For US Tribal Shield Sent To ParisAssociated Press

A judge has granted a federal prosecutor's request to issue a warrant for the return of a tribal ceremonial shield that had been sent to Paris for auction years after it was reported stolen.

Federal authorities and tribal leaders say the shield was swiped from an Acoma Pueblo home in New Mexico in the 1970s before eventually being sent to France, where U.S. laws barring the sale of tribal ceremonial items typically hold no weight.

Court documents do not indicate where the shield has been stored or held in the months since EVE Auction House pulled it from the auction block in May on the day it was set to go before bidders.

The judge's decision Wednesday comes a month after the U.S. attorney's office filed a motion requesting the warrant.

New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute Gets New Leader Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

The only state-owned and operated psychiatric hospital in New Mexico has a new leader.

The Las Vegas Optic reports that Frances Tweed recently was named the executive director of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute.

Tweed will oversee the 352-bed hospital plagued by high turnover of lower-paid workers. It is known for its adult psychiatric services on six units

The hospital also has a nursing home, a center for treating males between 12 and 18 years old who face charges for sexually harmful behavior. It has a forensic division for felony criminal offenders, including murderers and rapists.

Tweed replaces Troy Jones, who left in April for an administrator's position at a South Dakota hospital.

Some Civil Rights Sites At Risk Of Being Lost To History By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A once-thriving, all-black settlement in the New Mexico desert is a ghost town, rarely appearing on tourist maps. In Houston, Texas, tour buses pass but never stop at a building where Latino activists planned key civil rights events.

The two are among key sties in the nation's civil rights struggle that have been overlooked, neglected and absent from tourist guides.

Advocates say it's time that more states and local communities work to draw attention to the sites before they are lost forever to memory and time.

A few advocates with limited funds are now working to register some of the locations as historic landmarks. They point to efforts in Alabama where the state preserves more than 70 sites linked to the Civil Rights movement as a roadmap.

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