Teens Indicted In Homeless Killings, VA Review And More...

Aug 6, 2014

Credit Michael Grimes via Flickr and Creative Commons

NM Teens Indicted In Homeless Men KillingsThe Associated Press

Three teenagers arrested for the brutal slayings of two homeless men in Albuquerque have been indicted on first-degree murder, aggravated assault and numerous other charges.

The indictments were returned yesterday by a Bernalillo County grand jury. Arraignments for the three teens have yet to be scheduled.

Because the 15- and 16-year-old suspects were charged as serious youthful offenders and indicted on first-degree murder charges, they will be tried alongside 18-year-old Alex Rios in adult court.

Rios and the two younger suspects are charged with attacking three homeless men as they slept in a vacant lot.

The two men who were killed were Native American. But police say there's no indication the teens sought out their victims based on race, so hate-crime charges were not presented to the grand jury.

VA Review: No Patient Deaths Linked To Wait Times - The Associated Press

Veterans Affairs officials in New Mexico say a review has determined there was no link between the deaths of a dozen veterans and their place on the waiting list for medical care.

Amid an investigation into lapses in care, the New Mexico VA health care system initially identified 21 people who died while waiting to see a doctor. Officials promised to investigate each case to determine if the wait was a factor in their deaths.

The health care system ended up finding an additional 167 patients who died while awaiting various appointments, but VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown says there was no association with the wait times and the deaths.

The VA learned of the patients' deaths while reaching out to more than 1,000 veterans who were waiting to see primary care doctors or receive specialty care.

New Judge Files Lawsuit To Appear On Ballot - The Associated Press

A newly appointed judge is challenging New Mexico's system of allowing political parties to select the general election nominees in certain state judicial races.

District Judge Gina Manfredi in Sandoval County filed a lawsuit yesterday asking the 1st Judicial District court to place her on the ballot rather than Bernalillo lawyer Christopher Perez.

A Democratic Party committee picked Perez to appear on the ballot rather than Manfredi, a Democrat appointed last month by Gov. Susana Martinez to a newly created judgeship.

Manfredi will serve only until the November election.

A bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission recommended Manfredi for possible appointment by the governor. But political parties select nominees when a judicial opening occurs too late for candidates to run in the primary election.

Fired Worker Sues New Mexico College - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A former Northern New Mexico College worker has filed a lawsuit against the school, accusing top administrators of mismanaging funds and retaliating against employees.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Angelo Jacques, a former information technology director, filed a whistleblower lawsuit Monday.

According to court documents, Jacques says he was fired from his job after less than a year in order to "punish those who questioned their improper conduct."

A college spokesman declined comment Tuesday, saying officials had not seen the lawsuit.

Jacques, who was hired in September 2012, says he observed administrators using equipment that was purchased with federal funds and was meant for students.

Jacques says he also refused to look into people's computers to find out who was putting information critical of the administration.

New Mexico Endowment Funds Generate $779 Million - The Associated Press

New Mexico's permanent funds will generate nearly $779 million to pay for government operations and education this year.

State Investment Officer Steve Moise told a legislative committee yesterday the endowment funds have assets of nearly $20 billion and would make record distributions, about $60 million more than last year.

Moise said the funds should provide about $845 million in the 2016 fiscal year if investment performance holds.

New Mexico Man Accused Of Forging Inmate's Checks - The Associated Press and KOAT TV

Albuquerque police are searching for a man accused of forging nearly $2,000 in checks issued from a New Mexico prison.

KOAT-TV reported Wednesday that authorities say 32-year-old Carlos Gomez forged two checks from the Lea County Detention Center in Lovington.

According to arrest warrant filed July 28, an inmate was given a $7 check when he was released in May but Gomez made the check appear to be for more than $900.

Gomez allegedly made that check out to himself and then a second one for another man.

Police say Gomez cashed the check at a Walgreens drug store.

Detectives are investigating surveillance footage from the store.

NM Firefighters Help With Blazes In Other States - The Associated Press

Nearly 100 New Mexico firefighters have been assigned to help battle blazes in other western states.

The New Mexico State Forestry Division says the firefighters along with engines and a 20-person hand crew made up of military veterans are being dispatched this week to California, Oregon, Utah, Nevada and Washington.

New Mexico's fire season was relatively brief and not as severe as in years past, but other states are now seeing an increase in fire danger.

A State Forestry spokesman says the assignments will give the New Mexico crews more experience.

Federal fire managers say large blazes in a handful of western states have charred more than 756 square miles.

Shiprock Woman Gets Prison Term In Arson Case - The Associated Press

A Shiprock woman has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for helping her twin brother set fire to his ex-girlfriend's rented home in New Mexico.

Federal prosecutors say 33-year-old Christina Thompson received a 15-month prison term Tuesday followed by two years of supervised release.

Thompson was also ordered jointly with her brother to pay more than $57,000 to the Navajo Housing Authority for damages to the home.

Thompson was arrested last October on suspicion of arson. She pleaded guilty in the case in April.

Thompson admitted to authorities that she drove Dan Curtis Thompson to the victim's rental unit in Ojo Amarillo on Jan. 9, 2013 and helped him flee after he set the fire.

Dan Curtis Thompson lived there until the victim threw him out.