Thursday News Roundup: Farmington Deputy Shooting Ruled Homicide

Jun 19, 2014

Farmington Deputy Shooting Ruled Homicide - The Associated Press & The Daily Times

The death of a driver who was shot by a federal officer in Farmington in March has been ruled a homicide.  The Daily Times reports that the Office of the Medical Investigator says John Marszalek died from the gunshot and multiple self-inflicted stab wounds to the throat.

Police say Marszalek was driving erratically and exposing himself at stop lights while driving around Farmington on March 12.  They say he sparked two police chases, which ended after he crashed into a Farmington patrol car.  

The death investigation summary concludes that "Although the injury to the neck is self inflicted, the gunshot wound resulted from the actions of someone else, thus the manner of death is homicide.”  Officials are still waiting for the toxicology report.  Prosecutors are expected to wrap up the shooting investigation next week.

Immigrant Driver Licenses Plunge In New MexicoThe Associated Press

Records show that newly issued driver's licenses to immigrants in New Mexico have plunged by nearly a third in the past year despite no change in the state's policy of granting driving privileges to foreign nationals living in the country illegally.

There's no clear explanation for the 31 percent drop from 2012 to 2013, but the trend is continuing so far this year, according to state records obtained by The Associated Press.

Immigrant rights activist Marcela Diaz of Santa Fe contends that fewer immigrants are moving to New Mexico because of a weak economy and lack of jobs.

Governor Susana Martinez attributes the decline to the "word getting out" that New Mexico prosecutes people who falsely try to obtain licenses.

Border New Mexico County To End Immigration Holds - The Associated Press

A southern New Mexico county along the U.S.-Mexico border will stop holding people in jail without charge at the request of federal immigration authorities.

The Dona Ana County Detention Center recently announced it would no longer honor requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain people arrested on unrelated charges for 48 hours while agents investigate their immigration status.

Immigrant rights groups lauded the decision and say it loosens disputed ties between local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Advocates also announced the settlement of a lawsuit against Dona Ana County involving two sisters who were detained for two months under an ICE "48-hour detainer" without being charged with an immigration violation.

PNM To Move Forward With Natural Gas Plant - The Associated Press

New Mexico regulators have given the state's largest electric utility the go-ahead to build a $56 million natural gas power plant.

PNM says the La Luz Energy Center southwest of Belen will enable the company to maintain service for its customers in a cost-efficient way.

They say building the plant next to existing transmission lines and two major interstate gas pipelines will help keep costs down.

Construction is scheduled to begin later this year. It will be complete in early 2016.

Adding the gas plant to its portfolio will help as PNM looks for other sources of electricity in preparation for shutting down part of its coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

Movie About Cartels To Film In New Mexico - The Associated Press

A movie about efforts to take down a Mexican cartel boss will be filmed in New Mexico.

New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis announced Wednesday that the feature "Sicario" will be shot in Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Corrales, Laguna Pueblo, Bernalillo County and Sandoval County at the end of June through the end of August.

Starring Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin, "Sicario" is the story of a by-the-book female FBI agent who is assigned to work with two Delta-force operators to take down a Mexican cartel boss.

The film will be based at Albuquerque Studios and will employ about 200 New Mexico crew members as well as more than 2,000 resident actors and background talent.

NM Congressman To Hold Town Hall For Veterans - The Associated Press

U.S. congressman Ben Ray Lujan is hosting a town hall by  telephone this evening to discuss the latest reports that thousands of New Mexico veterans have had long waits for medical care in the Veterans Affairs health care system.

The town hall with the New Mexico Democrat will take place Thursday evening.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation have been reaching out to veterans in recent weeks as they try to gage the extent of the wait times and the quality of care patients are receiving from the VA.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce says he surveyed New Mexico veterans and found they're waiting longer for appointments than what a recent federal audit shows.

Petition Seeks Return Of Grizzly Bears To The West - The Associated Press

An environmental group wants federal wildlife managers to revise a decades-old recovery plan for grizzly bears to ensure the animal's return to more areas of the West.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed its petition yesterday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It identifies 110,000 square miles in a handful of western states as suitable habitat for the bears.

The areas include a forested region straddling the Arizona-New Mexico border, the Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevada in California, and parts of Utah and Colorado.

The recovery plan for grizzlies dates back to 1993. The Center for Biological Diversity says it needs to consider more recent research that questions the long-term viability of the current grizzly population.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says it has yet to receive and review the petition.

Assayii Lake Fire UpdateThe Associated Press

The wildfire in the Chuska Mountains east of the Arizona-New Mexico border has grown to more than 20 square miles. Fire crews are battling extreme heat and gusty winds in the area of pinion and juniper forest used as Navajo grazing lands. Authorities say roughly four structures have been destroyed and 50 homes near the communities of Naschitti and Sheep Spring remain threatened. 

Police Trying To ID Bicyclist Killed In Santa Fe - The Associated Press

Authorities are trying to figure out the identity of a bicyclist who died after being struck by a Rail Runner train in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe police on Wednesday released a photo of a religious icon that the bicyclist was wearing at the time of the incident.

Police say the man who died was wearing an Our Lady of Mount Carmel scapular around his neck.

The scapular is a common sacramental worn by Catholics.

The victim's is brown with gold embroidery and made of cloth.

Police say the bicyclist was also wearing a white baseball hat with black lettering. The hat reads "New York — the capital of the world."

According to investigators, the victim and the train collided Monday morning as the bicyclist crossed the tracks.

Farmington Suspect's Death Ruled Homicide - The Associated Press

The death of a driver who was shot by a federal officer in Farmington in March has been ruled a homicide.

The Daily Times reported Wednesday that New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator says John Robert Marszalek II died from from the gunshot and multiple self-inflicted stab wounds.

Police say Marszalek was driving erratically and exposing himself at stop lights while driving around Farmington on March 12.

They say he sparked two police chases before he was shot while stabbing himself in the throat.

Officers had already used a stun gun before the U.S. Marshal's deputy shot him.

Prosecutors are expected to wrap up the shooting investigation next week.