Woman in NM van shooting may still face charges

TAOS, N.M. (AP) — A Tennessee woman whose van was chased and shot at by a New Mexico State Police officer during a chaotic traffic stop may still see charges.

Taos County district attorney Donald Gallegos told KRQE-TV this week that he will present Oriana Farrell’s case before another grand jury sometime this month.

New Mexico Court of Appeals judge proposed last month tossing the criminal case against Oriana Farrell. The Memphis, Tennessee woman is facing charges of fleeing an officer, child abuse and other charges.

Last year, a New Mexico State Police officer shot at Farrell’s van carrying her five children after she twice sped off and was stopped by another officer for speeding outside of Taos. Video of the shooting gained national attention and the officer was later fired.

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Information from: KRQE-TV

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lawsuit: Motel owner sexually assaulted workers

RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Three women are suing a New Mexico halfway house employee and motel owner over allegations the women were forced to work with the owner who sexually assaulted them.

The lawsuit recently filed in Dona Ana County state district court says Cindy Hannan, the house mother of the New Life Recovery House in Alamogordo, required the women to work at a nearby Super 8 Motel and ignored complaints about the owner’s behavior.

Court documents say Super 8 Motel owner Victor Chevdawala (CHEHV’-da-WAH’-lah) assaulted the women on number of occasions. When they complained, documents say Hannan threatened to send them back to prison.

Hannan denied being involved in any “scandal” at the motel.

Chevdawala declined to comment. His lawyer, Bert Atkins, did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New Mexico hopes ‘singing road’ curbs speeding

TIJERAS, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico transportation officials are hoping a “singing road” along historic Route 66 will curb speeding.

Tigress Productions is creating the road between Albuquerque and the mountain community of Tijeras for a new National Geographic Channel series dubbed “Crowd Control” that will debut in November.

The road uses a series of rumble strips to create music. The driver will hear the tune as long as the speed limit is obeyed.

There are only a few such “singing roads” in the world.

Aside from getting drivers to slow down, state Transportation Secretary Tom Church says the rumble strips will keep drowsy drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.

He says the goal of the experiment is to change driver behavior in a fun way by giving them a reward for obeying the speed limit.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Governor wins challenge over green building codes

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has won a legal challenge over her administration’s repeal of “green” building standards implemented when Democrat Bill Richardson was governor.

The state Court of Appeals last week upheld a decision by the state Construction Industries Commission to revamp building codes.

The court had set aside a commission attempt in 2011 to overhaul the Richardson administration’s building requirements for energy efficiency.

The commission readopted its code revision last year and tried to address the court’s earlier ruling that it hadn’t provided sufficient reasons for the changes.

Environmentalists appealed, contending the commission still hadn’t justified the code overhaul.

Doug Meiklejohn of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center said Tuesday no decision has been made on whether to take the case to the state Supreme Court.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ranchers ask court to block fencing to aid mouse

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico ranchers are asking a federal judge to block the Forest Service from fencing off riparian areas in two national forests to protect the habitat of a tiny mouse.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the requested temporary restraining order would apply to fencing in the Lincoln and Santa Fe national forests.

The request was filed by the same individual ranchers and groups which previously filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

The U.S. Forest Service has already closed off some areas to prevent damage to the habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal wildlife managers also propose setting aside as critical habitat nearly 200 miles along streams and wetlands in parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Prosecutor wants sheriff’s office declared vacant

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A court is being asked to declare that the office of a northern New Mexico sheriff is vacant because he was convicted of abusing a driver during a traffic stop.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella was convicted Friday of pulling his gun on a driver and violating the driver’s civil rights.

Rodella’s attorney has said Rodella won’t resign, and District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco on Tuesday asked the state District Court to declare that Rodella’s position automatically became vacant upon his conviction.

Pacheco says that would allow county commissioners to appoint a new sheriff.

The County Commission has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to consider the situation.

Rodella remains in custody. He faces up to 17 years in prison when sentenced Dec. 26.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Santa Fe police: Man shot and wounded on driveway

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa police say a man is hospitalized in stable condition after being shot and wounded while standing on his driveway.

According to police, the 45-year-old man was shot twice Tuesday night by three or four men who fled the scene in a white car.

The wounded man’s identity wasn’t released, and police say they’re trying to determine a motive for the shooting.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Clovis officer accused in 2nd excessive force case

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — An attorney says a Clovis police officer facing an internal investigation over excessive force also roughed up a female suspect.

The Clovis News Journal reports attorney Dan Lindsey said this week the woman recently came forward to allege Brent Aguilar slammed her on a concrete porch during her February arrest for concealing identity and resisting arrest.

Authorities say Aguilar is under an internal investigation for slamming a handcuffed passenger into the asphalt during a traffic stop in August.

In the latest case, Melanie Ryan says Aguilar took her to the ground during a domestic disturbance call. Lindsey says Ryan suffered bruising to her chest and face.

She later pleaded no contest to a concealing identity charge.

Clovis Police Chief Steve Sanders says investigators are looking into the latest allegation.

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Information from: Clovis News Journal

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Governor wins challenge over green building codes

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has won a legal challenge over her administration’s repeal of “green” building standards implemented when Democrat Bill Richardson was governor.

The state Court of Appeals last week upheld a decision by the state Construction Industries Commission to revamp building codes.

The court had set aside a commission attempt in 2011 to overhaul the Richardson administration’s building requirements for energy efficiency.

The commission readopted its code revision last year and tried to address the court’s earlier ruling that it hadn’t provided sufficient reasons for the changes.

Environmentalists appealed, contending the commission still hadn’t justified the code overhaul.

Doug Meiklejohn of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center said Tuesday no decision has been made on whether to take the case to the state Supreme Court.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New Mexico hopes ‘singing road’ curbs speeding

TIJERAS, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico transportation officials are hoping an experiment along historic Route 66 will curb speeding.

Tigress Productions is creating a ‘singing road’ between Albuquerque and the mountain community of Tijeras for a new National Geographic Channel series dubbed Crowd Control. The show will debut in November.

The road uses a series of rumble strips to create music. The driver will hear the tune as long as the speed limit is obeyed.

There are only a few such ‘singing roads’ in the world.

Aside from getting driver to slow down, state Transportation Secretary Tom Church says the rumble strips will keep drowsy drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.

He says the goal of the experiment is to change driver behavior in a fun way by giving them a reward if they obey the speed limit.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Report: Convicted New Mexico sheriff won’t resign

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A northern New Mexico sheriff convicted of abusing a driver during a traffic stop that prosecutors called a fit of road rage reportedly won’t resign.

A jury last Friday convicted Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella of pulling his gun on a driver and violating a 26-year-old man’s civil rights.

Rodella faces up to 17 years in prison when he’s sentenced Dec. 26 in Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that Rodella’s attorney has told county leaders the sheriff will not resign.

The County Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session Wednesday morning in Espanola.

Santa Fe District Attorney Angela Pacheco says Rio Arriba County “needs to have a duly qualified sheriff to ensure the protection of the public” and the commission needs to appoint a replacement.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

'Bless Me, Ultima' novelist Anaya honored

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The godfather of contemporary Chicano literature has been chosen as the 2nd ever inductee into the Albuquerque Wall of Fame.

Author Rudolfo Anaya was honored Tuesday at the Alvarado Transportation Center during a special ceremony.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says Anaya received a Wall of Fame nod because his descriptive narratives opened up Albuquerque and New Mexico to the world.

Anaya was born in Pastura, New Mexico, and raised in nearby Santa Rosa.

He is best known for the novel Bless Me, Ultima, which experts say sparked the Chicano literary movement in the late 1960s and influenced a generation of Latino writers.

The novel was made into a movie in 2012.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Democrat files ethics complaint against legislator

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state Democratic Party official alleges ethical misconduct by a Democratic legislator who has broken party ranks to back Republican Gov. Susana Martinez on some issues.

An ethics complaint against Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint was filed Tuesday with the secretary of state by Democratic Party Executive Director Jon Lipshutz, who alleges Jeff was improperly reimbursed twice for expenses.

The complaint said Jeff received about $2,100 in for mileage and per diem payments for legislative trips last November and December, and she reimbursed herself with nearly $1,300 from her campaign for “gas and food” during the same time.

Jeff didn’t immediately respond to an email and telephone message seeking comment.

She lost a court fight to appear on the primary ballot, but is a write-in candidate in the general election.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Navajo vice president recovering after spider bite

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The vice president of the Navajo Nation is recovering after being bit by a brown recluse spider.

Rex Lee Jim had been hospitalized for more than four weeks in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jim says the spider’s venom spread like wildfire through his lower left leg. He says doctors were able to surgically remove the infection, dead tissue, ligaments and muscles, avoiding leg amputation.

Jim says the hospital stay also revealed that he has diabetes. He encouraged Navajos to eat healthy, exercise and get annual checkups.

Tribal spokesman Rick Abasta says Jim is recovering with rest and physical therapy. Jim is expected to be at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair in Shiprock, New Mexico, this weekend.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Chief: Albuquerque officer’s words ‘unacceptable’

RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque’s police chief says it’s “completely unacceptable” that an officer used foul language and called a man he later fatally shot a “lunatic.”

Chief Gorden Eden told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Officer Keith Sandy violated department policy when he used an expletive to describe a 38-year-old man struggling with mental illness.

Authorities say Sandy was one of two officers who shot James Boyd following an hours-long standoff in the Sandia foothills in March. That shooting later sparked a violent protest in Albuquerque and an FBI investigation.

In a recording released Monday, Sandy is heard telling a New Mexico State Police sergeant that Boyd was a lunatic who he planned to shoot.

The sergeant later said Sandy was referring to using a stun gun.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.