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This Hour: Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment

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Recordings surface in New Mexico governor race

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Democrats are calling on Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to apologize after a liberal publication released recordings in which she and aides used profanity and offensive names to describe political opponents.

Martinez said the tapes are stolen recordings of private debate prep sessions when she was running for her first term four years ago. She called their release by Mother Jones "the absolute height of desperation" by liberals trying to unseat her. But she does admit having "to fund the cuss jar a few times."

Martinez responded to the tapes in a letter to supporters. Her campaign spokesman called them "cheap political attacks."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lawrence Rael has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to demand an apology and the removal of key aides.


Bill targeting wolf-recovery program passes House

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona House of Representatives has approved a Senate bill allowing ranchers to kill endangered wolves in self-defense.

Senate Bill 1211 would allow livestock owners to kill a Mexican gray wolf if one was caught attacking livestock or a person.

Wildlife activists say the bill violates the federal Endangered Species Act. But a staff attorney says the bill has been watered down and now meets constitutional requirements.

A separate bill approved by both chambers sets up a reimbursement fund for ranchers who lose cattle to wolves. It stills final action.

Proponents say the federal government is overstepping its boundaries with its wolf-recovery program in Arizona and New Mexico.

The House approved the measure on a 37-23 vote Wednesday. It now returns to the Senate for transmittal to the governor.


Court revives election challenge against Democrat

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico's highest court has revived a lawsuit seeking to remove maverick Democratic Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint from the June 3 primary election ballot.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the case back to a district court in Gallup for a hearing Friday on whether Jeff submitted enough valid voter signatures on nominating petitions to qualify as a candidate.

Jeff has broken party ranks in the House to side with Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez on high profiles issues, including proposals to stop the state from issuing driver's licenses to immigrants living illegally in the country.

The justices are temporarily blocking the secretary of state from mailing out ballots to overseas voters while the case is pending.

Two other Democrats are running against Jeff in the primary.


Santa Fe police officer named in claim resigns

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A Santa Fe police officer has resigned after being accused of using excessive force against a taxi driver who was arrested during a traffic stop.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Police Department spokeswoman Celina Westervelt says Jose Gutierrez resigned Friday and did not give a reason for his resignation.

A lawyer for 40-year-old Dawn Bourgeois last week filed a claim that is a precursor to a possible lawsuit in connection with the March 30 traffic stop.

Westervelt says the department is conducting an internal review of the incident, which resulted in Bourgeois getting a black eye.


Man fraudulently acted as attorney in Las Cruces

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Dona Ana County Sheriff's investigators are searching for a man who fraudulently acted as an attorney.

They say 38-year-old Rafael Herrera is facing a felony charge of fraud.

Authorities say Herrera allegedly took retainers for services he never provided to an unknown number of victims.

According to court documents, Herrera worked for a Las Cruces law firm from October 2011 to September 2012.

He allegedly misrepresented himself as an attorney to at least one woman who claims Herrera charged her a $2,500 retainer for an immigration case.

The firm's principal attorney was doing business in Carlsbad at the time.

When the man returned to Las Cruces, discrepancies in the bookkeeping led him to believe Herrera misappropriated funds and collected from people whose cases weren't legally being represented by the firm.


Los Lunas police: Man tried to abduct young girl

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (AP) - Los Lunas police say they have little information so far to go on as they try to find a suspect in a reported attempt to abduct a 7-year-old girl.

Police say responding officers were told a man got out of a vehicle Tuesday evening and attempted to grab the girl's shirt.

According to police, the girl got away and ran to a friend's house.

A search was conducted but came up empty.

The only description released so far is that the suspect was an African-American man driving a red vehicle.


Man agrees to help Albuquerque police find body

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A man has pleaded guilty in one death and no-contest in another under an agreement calling for him to serve 28 years in prison and to help Albuquerque police find one victim's body.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 34-year-old Chris Blattner recently pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of 62-year-old Kathy Paquin.

He had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Paquin, who went missing in 2012.

In another case, Blattner pleaded no-contest to second-degree murder of George Orozco in 2007.

U.S. Secret Service agents learned that Blattner and his wife had secretly withdrawn $63,000 from Paquin's bank account, including $25,000 over five days after Paquin disappeared.

Blattner still faces federal drug charges


NM town hall yields water recommendations

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico officials, business leaders and others are hashing out recommendations for improving the way the arid state uses its water and plans for the future.

They have been meeting for two days as part of New Mexico First's statewide town hall on water.

The goal is to develop 16 recommendations on a range of topics, including water-sharing agreements and capturing more storm runoff to bolster supplies.

The recommendations will also address tapping sources such as brackish water. Experts say the water could be used by industry or to boost municipal supplies once treated.

Energy, Minerals and Resources Secretary David Martin says the state is already working with the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech and the federal labs to get a better handle on brackish aquifers and their sustainability.


New Mexico prisons to end overnight family visits

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The New Mexico Department of Corrections has announced that it is ending overnight family visits for inmates.

The agency said Wednesday inmates will no longer be allowed conjugal visits beginning May 1.

Officials say the policy change comes after two years of "careful consideration."

The policy recently drew scrutiny after it was revealed last year that convicted killer and rapist Michael Guzman fathered multiple children while serving a life sentence.

Officials say only a small portion of the nearly 7,000 New Mexico prison inmates qualified for overnight family visits.

Currently, only four other states - California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington - allow conjugal visits. The practice is forbidden in federal prisons.

Mississippi ended its conjugal visit policy earlier this year.


Univ. of New Mexico campus to get more lighting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The University of New Mexico will use state funding to install additional safety lighting on its Albuquerque campus.

KRQE-TV reports that installing additional safety lighting on some parts of the campus is a priority for student leaders because of potential risks at night.

The university already installed LED lights in some parts of the campus last spring and winter, but most of the $160,000 provided by the Legislature for campus improvements will be used to install additional lighting.

The improvement projects are expected to start in June and be done by August.

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