Local and State News

LA MESA, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have issued an Amber Alert for a 2-year-old boy who allegedly was abducted by his father from a relative's home in southern New Mexico. Dona Ana County Sheriff's officials say 23-year-old Sergio Guadalupe Jacquez may be driving a stolen truck and could be headed to either Colorado or Mexico. They say Jacquez went to the home of his son's grandparents in La Mesa about 1 p.m. Monday demanding to take custody of the toddler. Sheriff's officials say the grandfather refused to let the boy go, but Jacquez allegedly forced his way into the home and took the child.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say the cause of a fire that charred the southwest part of Albuquerque remains unclear. Albuquerque Fire Department officials say several crews arrived at the Joy Light Church of God in Christ about 2:30 p.m. Monday and saw heavy smoke coming from the church. They say firefighters got control of the fire within minutes and the blaze was contained to the main sanctuary. No one was inside at the time and no injuries have been reported.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Incoming Democratic leaders in the New Mexico House plan to reconfigure the chamber's committee structure by creating new committees and eliminating others. The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2iH9dvR) that the Democratic leaders plan to make committee changes just as Republicans did two years ago. Democrats reclaimed control of the House in November. One change would involve creating a House Labor and Economic Development Committee.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Funeral services are scheduled for three children who were fatally shot inside their Albuquerque home in early December as their mom fought to shield them. Services for 5-year-old Elijah Mascarenas, 6-year-old Olivia Mascarenas, and 9-year-old Ian Mascarenas will be held Monday afternoon. The three were killed on Dec. 5 as their mother's ex-boyfriend attacked the family. Police say the former boyfriend, 45-year-old George Daniel Wechsler, was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and later died at the hospital.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new top prosecutor has taken over as district attorney in Bernalillo County for the first time in 16 years. Raul Torrez was sworn in Sunday in a private ceremony at the 2nd Judicial District offices. He replaces Kari Brandenburg, who had been district attorney since 2001 and chose not to seek re-election. The state's most populous county has seen high crime rates, a steep criminal case backlog, and a fractured relationship between the DA and law enforcement. Torrez is a former assistant U.S. attorney, assistant attorney general and assistant district attorney.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police say an Albuquerque mother who disappeared with her six children after being accused of beating one of her teenage sons has been arrested in Arizona. The woman was arrested by police for the White Mountain Apache Reservation and booked into the Navajo County jail in Holbrook, Arizona. Police say the children are doing well and awaiting their return to Albuquerque. The children range in age from 3 months to 14 years. Investigators say one of her 14-year-old sons, who wasn't among the missing children, showed up at a police station barefoot early Dec. 18.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state of New Mexico allows the FBI to scan its database of driver license photos to see if the pictures match a wanted suspect, one of just 16 states that open their photo vaults to the agency. The state agency overseeing the license database says the federal law enforcement agency tapped into it 240 times in 2016. A recent report from the Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology raised alarm about the practice nationwide. But it had high praise for how the Albuquerque Police Department uses its facial recognition technology.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Bad weather dashed the hopes of a New Mexico Jewish group that hoped to win a spot in the record books by creating the world's only menorah made from hot air balloons on New Year's Eve. The event sponsored by Chabad of New Mexico went on anyway, just without the launch of nine balloons that would have created the menorah. KOB-TV reports the balloonists did use burners normally used to inflate their balloons to re-create the nine-candle menorah that is the symbol of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights celebration. Saturday was the last night of Hanukkah.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It's still months away, but tickets are going on sale for one of North America's largest powwows. Expo New Mexico, which will host this year's annual Gathering of Nations , says advance tickets for the two-day event in late April will be available online starting Saturday. Organizers announced earlier this year that the event would be moving from its longtime home at the University of New Mexico's basketball arena to a smaller venue at the state fairgrounds. The powwow is the one of the world's largest gatherings of Native Americans and indigenous people.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Companies that offer behavioral health care to Medicaid patients will not face planned cuts in rate payments from the New Mexico Human Services Department. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://bit.ly/2hDnXNJ) reductions would have been implemented Jan. 1 as a result of a state budget signed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Medicaid has faced cuts since drops in oil and gas revenue removed millions from the state budget. Human Services Department spokesman Kyler Nerison did not respond Friday to questions about why the rate cuts were reversed.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A man could go to trial again in the death of a baby born following a collision. The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2isO62Z) New Mexico's appeals court ruled a mistrial should have been declared in Ramon A. Hernandez case because an officer testified about information that was previously ruled inadmissible. Aileen Smith's baby Dimitri died a minute after he was delivered. She said after the appeals court ruling that it is devastating. Smith and her husband Zach have lobbied for tougher consequences for DWIs.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a burglary at a Rio Rancho gun store where two men drove a stolen pickup truck through the business' entrance in the middle of the night. Rio Rancho police say several guns were stolen during Monday's burglary at Bulldog Firearms. Surveillance video shows the men exiting the truck after it smashed into the store. The men left in the truck, which was later found on the side of a road in Albuquerque.

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — A mentoring program for physicians in isolated, rural areas is being tapped by the federal government in efforts to expand access to specialized care. The unconventional system could hold particular promise for containing America's opioid addiction epidemic. At a health clinic in New Mexico's Espanola Valley, training by videoconference ensures a pregnant mother gets treatment to stay off heroin.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The last order of business for a long-time Albuquerque police officer was to pin a badge on his son. KOB-TV reports (http://bit.ly/2ixWRpK ) that Lou Golson on Thursday welcomed his son Adam Golson to the force, Lou Golson's last day on duty with the department. Lou Golson says he's proud that three of his five children have chosen to work in law enforcement, even after he was shot by a suspected drunken driver in January 2015. He suffered a gunshot wound in the abdomen and a broken wrist in the encounter.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new study suggests salty soils and dry conditions would have made it difficult to grow enough corn at Chaco Canyon to sustain the population at the once monumental gathering spot in northwest New Mexico. University of Colorado-Boulder scientist Larry Benson's research adds fuel to the theory that Chaco inhabitants relied on imports from around the Four Corners region.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Officials say a Santa Fe police sergeant on probation for threatening a paralegal has resigned, though the officer say otherwise. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://bit.ly/2ilpeHU ) that Santa Fe Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said Wednesday that Sgt. Charles Lujan resigned a day after an internal investigation into the threat allegation was completed. However Lujan said Thursday that his resignation was just a rumor started by another officer. He declined to comment when asked if he believed Gallagher was providing false information.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Newborns enrolled in New Mexico's home visiting program are less likely to use costly medical services than other children in their first year. The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2ifnfae ) that according to a new Rand Corp. study, children enrolled in the New Mexico First Born program were a third less likely to visit an emergency room than newborns in a control group. First Born is a privately funded program that provides in-home services to parents and children in their first year in order to promote healthy child development.

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — The Gila National Forest in southern New Mexico is now nearly one square mile bigger. The Trust for Public Land says it has conveyed 605 acres to the U.S. Forest Service through an arrangement paid for with money from the national Land and Water Conservation Fund. The property along the Upper Bear Creek was already surrounded mostly by federal land and includes a mile of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and a stretch of the Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico Jewish group is organizing a special event on New Year's Eve in hopes of winning a spot in the record books for the world's only menorah made from hot air balloons. Chabad of New Mexico says the menorah will be made up of nine balloons that will inflate at Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park, which hosts the famous international balloon fiesta each October. Chabad Rabbi Chaim Schmukler says the menorah will celebrate religious freedom and Jewish pride the New Mexican way.

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Oil service company Halliburton has announced plans to bring about 200 jobs to the Permian Basin, an area which covers southeast New Mexico and parts of western Texas. The Current-Argus reports (http://bit.ly/2hB2c2u ) Halliburton spokeswoman Emily Mir says in a Wednesday statement there will be job opportunities in various parts of the basin, including in Artesia. The announcement comes as local officials say there's been growth in the energy market in recent weeks, with more companies looking to expand in the region.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors have cleared an Albuquerque police officer in the 2014 shooting death of an Air Force veteran during a standoff at the man's home. District Attorney Kari Brandenburg announced this week that her office will not bring charges against Officer Daniel Hughes, who fired the fatal shot. The shooting ended a five-hour standoff with 50-year-old Armand Martin. After police shot flash bangs and tear gas into his home, Martin walked out and fired from two pistols. He was immediately shot in the chest.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials are highlighting the state's progress in reducing drug overdose deaths as a new law goes into effect to increase monitoring of prescriptions for opioid pain medication. The state Department of Health announced Thursday that New Mexico no longer ranks among the very worst states when it comes to drug overdose deaths. Statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show New Mexico moved up from 49th place in the rate of overdose deaths per capita in 2014 to 42nd place in 2015. A New Mexico state law taking effect Jan.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The former Dona Ana County treasurer who was removed from office after being convicted of public corruption and gross immorality is appealing. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports (http://bit.ly/2hsu7gd ) that an attorney for David Gutierrez last week filed a notice in state District Court to appeal the judgment that led to Gutierrez's firing. Gutierrez was removed from office on Nov. 31 after a Dona Ana County jury found him guilty for allegedly offering $2,000 to a female office employee to have sex with him.

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) — A former Bloomfield High School teacher convicted to molesting a 17-year-old student is asking that part of his sentence be transferred to a mental health facility. The Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/2hz8YWA ) that Benjamin Griffith has asked the court to consider transferring him to the Las Vegas Behavioral Health Institute to serve part of his sentence in the Sex Offender Treatment Program. Griffith was sentenced to 18 months in prison on June 30 after previously pleading guilty to criminal sexual contact with a minor.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Retired Maj. Gen. Franklin Miles, the son of a former New Mexico governor and the head of the New Mexico National Guard during the deadliest prison riot in the state's history, has died. He was 93. Miles' family tells The New Mexican (http://bit.ly/2hQZXUP) that the World War II veteran died this week following a short illness. Grandson Jason Baca of Santa Fe says Miles was an amazing man who always watched over his family. After serving in the Philippines near the end of the war, Miles returned and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a business degree.