Associated Press

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A Bloomfield man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the stabbing his wife nearly a year ago during an argument over the thermostat at their home.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that 57-year-old Steve Barela was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison.

Barela was accused of fatally stabbing Evelyn Barela on Dec. 18 at the couple's home.

Authorities say Barela called 911 to report the killing, but fled the residence before officers arrived.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Officials took the first step toward requiring most incoming freshmen at New Mexico State University to live on campus for one year.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the university's Board of Regents approved a resolution Friday in support of requiring incoming freshmen to live in student housing.

They also expressed interest in possible exemptions from the requirement, such as students who live within a certain distance of campus and military veterans who are attending college for the first time.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some industrial energy consumers in New Mexico are protesting a move to make large-scale electricity customers pay for fuel savings they now enjoy from Public Service Co. of New Mexico's investments in renewable energy.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that about two dozen industrial energy consumers could be hit with a $1.5 million annual bill if state regulators stand by their decision to make large-scale electricity customers pay for the fuel savings.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque man has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to drug trafficking and firearms charges.

Prosecutors say 21-year-old Victor Hurtado received a 141-month prison term Thursday and will be on supervised release for five years after that.

Hurtado was accused of robbing an Albuquerque pharmacy on Jan. 6.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police officers will be getting a raise after the City Council earmarked funds for the department.

The council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday to give the police department $2.7 million for the raises, which will amount to a 5.9 percent raise for most patrol officers.

Officials say the exact raise amount has not been finalized as negotiations with the police union, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, are ongoing.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera wants to increase starting salaries for public school teachers by $2,000 to $36,000 next year to better compete with neighboring states.

The 6 percent pay increase would apply to nearly 3,700 new teachers in the fall of 2017 if funding is approved by the Legislature.

An earlier effort by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration to boost base pay by $2,000 was approved by the Legislature during the 2015 session.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Investigators are raising flags about weaknesses in the way federal officials keep track of deficiencies, concerns from employees and contractors and other problems at one of the nation's premiere nuclear weapons laboratories.

The findings of the U.S. Department of Energy's inspector general were outlined in an audit released Thursday.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man who police say fled the state three decades ago after shooting and killing his brother-in-law, and injuring his wife and another man has been arrested in Illinois.

Albuquerque police said Thursday that 62-year-old Valentin Vasquez was arrested more than a week ago in Moline, Illinois, where he got into a traffic accident.

According to police, Moline officers ran a check on Vasquez and learned he was wanted in Albuquerque on a murder charge in the March 1984 shooting death of Juan Gutierrez.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal magistrate has appointed a receiver for a livestock auction business in Portales that was accused of engaging in unfair and deceptive practices.

The receiver will be responsible for conducting a review of High Plains Livestock's viability and will take over all aspects of its operations.

The court's order came Tuesday in a civil case started in August against the business and its owner and two operators.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Child welfare officials are seeking a $12 million budget increase in hopes of lightening the caseloads of the state's overburdened social workers.

The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department appealed to members of a key legislative committee Wednesday, saying some workers face caseloads that are three times that of federal recommendations.

Of the request, $5 million would pay to fill vacancies and hire 50 new caseworkers to protect neglected children.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities across the Southwest are preparing to be inundated with calls and emails from people who might catch a glimpse of the contrail that will be left behind by an early morning missile test.

Officials at White Sands Missile Range say the Juno missile will be launched Thursday morning from an old military depot in western New Mexico.

On its way to White Sands, the missile will drop a booster into a safety zone north of Datil, New Mexico. Roadblocks have been set up in the area.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors say a second-degree murder conviction against a 20-year-old Albuquerque man in the deaths of two homeless men is "just."

Assistant District Attorney Vincent Martinez says that while his team pushed for a jury to find Alex Rios guilty of first-degree murder, prosecutors are satisfied with Wednesday's outcome.

Rios and two teenagers were charged with beating Kee Thompson and Allison Gorman to death with cinder blocks and other items as they slept in July 2014.

SOCORRO, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a man shot last week by an investigator with the Seventh Judicial District Attorney's Office in Socorro had a stolen gun in his possession.

New Mexico State Police say 29-year-old Daniel Reynolds remains hospitalized in stable condition.

They say Reynolds was allegedly driving a stolen car Dec. 1 when the DA's investigator tried to pull him over with help from a Socorro County sheriff's deputy.

Police say Reynolds fled from a traffic stop and the DA's investigator fired shots at him.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico justices are hearing from prosecutors, public defenders and law enforcement officials as they weigh changes to a state Supreme Court rule meant to cut down the backlog of criminal cases awaiting trial in Bernalillo County.

Critics argue that what's known in the law enforcement community as the "speedy trial rule" is overtaxing the local District Attorney's office and allowing more criminals to evade prosecution.

The rule was implemented in February.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials say college scholarships backed by lottery proceeds are covering about 90 percent of tuition costs for qualifying students.

State Higher Education Sec. Barbara Damron briefed lawmakers Tuesday on funding levels for lottery scholarships. About 32,000 students rely on the money.

Damron says tuition increases are depleting scholarship funds faster than they can be replenished. Liquor taxes contribute $19 million to the scholarships, but that extra funding source ends in mid-2018.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys on both sides have rested their cases in the jury trial for a 20-year-old Albuquerque man charged with beating two homeless men to death.

Attorneys delivered closing arguments Tuesday morning after four days of testimony from witnesses and experts.

During the trial, jurors were shown photographs of one of the victim's injuries, and heard testimony from forensic experts, police detectives and a 16-year-old boy who says he took part in the July 2014 beating.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce wants a state district judge to consider former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran's years of public service before sentencing her next week.

A letter from the Republican congressman to Judge T. Glenn Ellington was among the correspondence released by the court after a hearing Tuesday.

The board chair of the state Public Employee Retirement Association, Patty French, and former Otero County Democratic Party Chair John Wheeler also were among those seeking leniency for Duran.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's tallest building will display the name of a credit union, breaking a pattern of banks seeking signage rights on the state's skyscrapers.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union's name will replace the Bank of Albuquerque sign on the 22-story Albuquerque Plaza building in downtown.

The building is owned by an investment group led by local businessman Jim Long. He says he's thrilled to have U.S. Eagle FCU acquire the rights and says he's used the credit union for nearly five decades.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State revenue projections are shrinking as New Mexico lawmakers begin to hammer out budgetary priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

New Mexico's top finance officials outlined the latest projections during the Legislative Finance Committee's meeting Monday in Santa Fe.

According to the testimony, declining revenues from oil and gas production have been offset by slow but stable growth in the state economy.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico state representative plans to take an unpaid leave of absence from his work as a Bernalillo County attorney while serving in Santa Fe during the upcoming legislative session.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the requirement for unpaid leave is written into Rep. Ken Martinez' contract with the county. The Grants Democrat says he volunteered to take leave without pay to avoid any controversy.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The trial of a 20-year-old man accused of fatally beating two homeless men in Albuquerque has resumed after a weekend break.

Alex Rios is facing 27 charges including two counts of first-degree murder in the July 2014 attack.

Two juveniles also were charged in the case. The youngest is taking a plea deal that offers him the possibility of release when he turns 21 in exchange for his testimony.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez wants to step up roundups of drunken-driving fugitives and have citizen watchdogs monitor judges who are routinely lenient on drunken-driving suspects.

Those are parts of new executive orders the Republican announced Monday to "crack down" on crimes related to drunken driving.

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Police say a man was killed when a vehicle that had been stuck on a snowpacked and icy road slid and overturned onto him.

Police say 73-year-old Dan Lewis of Atersia was a passenger in the vehicle that got stuck Sunday on a road near Ruidoso in south-central New Mexico.

According to police, Lewis and the driver got out to put rocks under the vehicle's tires but it then slid off the roadway and overturned onto Lewis.

He died at a Lincoln County Medical Center in Ruidoso.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque homeowner fought back when he saw a group of thieves trying to break into his car.

Police say the man saw three suspects in ski masks approaching his home and trying to break into one of his cars. The man went out to confront them and was faced with a gun. He says he shot at the suspects, hitting one before they sped away.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez wants to step up roundups of drunken-driving fugitives and have citizen watchdogs monitor judges who are routinely lenient on drunken-driving suspects.

Those are part of new executive orders the Republican announced Monday to "crack down" on crimes related to drunken driving.

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