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

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Albuquerque police officer fatally shoots woman

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Albuquerque police have identified an auto theft suspect shot and killed by officers as 19-year-old Mary Hawkes.

Hawkes was the third person killed by police in five weeks and the first on the heels of a federal investigation that faulted the department for excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression.

Police say Hawkes was shot Monday morning after pulling a gun during a foot chase. Police Chief Gordon Eden said the suspect pointed a gun at close range, but few other details have been released.

The shooting comes just weeks after a series of sometimes violent protests against Albuquerque police, who have shot at 38 people since 2010, killing 24.

Tension over the department's use of force escalated last month after police shot and killed a homeless camper in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.


Feds schedule public meetings on police reform

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department has scheduled a series of public meetings to gather comments on possible reforms for the Albuquerque Police Department over its use of force.

The federal agency recently issued a scathing report on what it called excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression at the Albuquerque Police Department.

The agency also criticized the city's oversight system and limited powers in investigating cases of questionable police conduct.

Albuquerque officers have shot at 38 people since 2010, killing 24, including a woman who was suspected of auto theft earlier this week.

The public meetings will be hosted at community centers in various parts of the city. The first will be Monday evening at Alamosa Community Center in southwest Albuquerque.

Meetings are also scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.


N.M. plans to make payments to workers in June

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Thousands of current and past New Mexico state government workers are due to receive payments this summer for back wages in a union contract dispute with the state.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state Department of Finance and Administration says it will start cutting checks for back pay in July. However, the department cautions that the payments to 10,300 past and current employees are subject to what it calls "budget availability."

The department also says 5,700 current employees will receive a corrected hourly pay rate beginning in June.

Department spokesman Tim Korte says the payments will cost taxpayers more than $30 million but that the Legislature only appropriated $2.7 million. Korte says agencies are figuring out how to come up with the rest of the money.


Albuquerque man charged in wife's death

ALBQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An Albuquerque man is facing a murder charge after police found his wife dead inside their home while making a welfare check.

Officer Tasia Martinez says officers were dispatched early Tuesday to check on Larry and Geraldine Hoffland. The couple did not answer the door or the phone so officers had to force their way in.

They found the 54-year-old woman dead and the 53-year-old man with apparent self-inflicted injuries. He was transported to a local hospital.

Martinez says Larry Hoffland is facing an open count of murder and will be booked when he's released from the hospital.

The cause of his wife's death remains under investigation. Police are awaiting autopsy results.


High court to hear legislator election case

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The state Supreme Court is expediting a hearing in an election challenge that removed Democratic Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint from the June 3 primary election ballot.

The court on Tuesday set an April 29 hearing on an appeal planned by Jeff, who was elected in 2008.

Jeff said on her Facebook page she has "full faith and confidence" the court will rule in her favor.

A district court judge in Gallup on Monday determined that Jeff lacked enough valid voter signatures on her nominating petitions.

Two other Democrats are running for the northwestern New Mexico legislative seat.

Jeff has broken party ranks on key legislative votes, including supporting Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's efforts to stop New Mexico from issuing driver's licenses to immigrants illegally in the country.


Senators seek support for Southwest Chief route

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Three U.S. senators are seeking support for capital improvements to Amtrak's long-distance routes, including one that passes through New Mexico and Colorado.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Mark Udall of Colorado have sent a letter to the chairman of an appropriations subcommittee that's considering funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies that oversee Amtrak.

The senators say long-distance service is a critical link for small and rural communities.

Amtrak has said it would consider rerouting the Southwest Chief to a more southern route if no agreement is met on maintaining the current track, which links Chicago and Los Angeles.

Amtrak has suggested New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas share the costs of maintaining and improving more than 600 miles of track in those states.


Court upholds dismissal of corruption case

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - State prosecutors have lost a legal challenge seeking to revive a public corruption case against former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron.

The state Court of Appeals ruled last week that charges against Vigil-Giron were properly dismissed in November 2012 because delays in the case violated her constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Vigil-Giron was indicted in August 2009 on charges of fraud, money laundering and embezzlement for alleged misuse of federal money in a voter education campaign. Two consultants for the campaign were convicted in a separate federal prosecution.

A special prosecutor, appointed after Attorney General Gary King's office was disqualified from handling the case, had appealed a Bernalillo County district court judge's decision to dismiss the case.

Vigil-Giron was secretary of state from 1999 to 2006.


Proposed Navajo junk-food tax fails at council

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - An effort to resurrect a junk-food tax on the country's largest American Indian reservation has failed.

The Navajo Nation Council earlier this year approved an additional 2 percent sales tax on snacks high in fat, sugar and salt. Tribal President Ben Shelly vetoed the measure, saying it was unclear how the tax would be enacted and enforced.

A bill to override that veto came before tribal lawmakers Tuesday but fell three votes short.

Lawmakers approved a separate measure to eliminate the tribe's 5 percent sales tax on fresh fruit and vegetables.

Elected officials across the country have taken aim at sugary drinks with proposals to limit the size of beverages that can be sold, raise taxes or require warning labels. But those efforts have not gained widespread traction.


Arizona officials support wolf alternative

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is supporting an alternative for managing Mexican gray wolves along the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The commission voted in favor of the alternative during a meeting Tuesday. It says the proposal was developed by 28 cooperating agencies and other stakeholders and will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for consideration.

The proposal would allow for up to triple the target number of Mexican wolves in the Southwest from the previous goal of 100. Supporters say that would help with developing a self-sustaining population.

The alterative also calls for a major expansion of the area where wolves can be released and expansion of the area where wolves can disperse and establish territories.

Commission Chairman J.W. Harris says the biggest impediment to wolf reintroduction is social tolerance.

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