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

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ALBUQUERQUE POLICE SHOOTINGS

Activists to protest police shooting contest in NM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Activists say they want a planned police shooting contest in Albuquerque canceled, especially after the city has been under scrutiny for police excess force.

Advocates have scheduled a rally Wednesday in downtown Albuquerque to call for the event's cancellation.

The city and its police department are hosting the National Rifle Association competition Sept. 13-17 for law enforcement members who can "select to fire in just one match or fire in all of the championship match events."

Officials say the NRA event typically attracts 500 officers from across the U.S. and some international competitors.

In recent months, the city has been rocked by angry protests and a U.S. Justice Department investigation over more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

MASS SHOOTING-THREAT

Las Cruces man arrested for mass shooting threat

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A Las Cruces man has been arrested for threatening a mass shooting at New Mexico State University in May.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that federal authorities took 19-year-old Zachary Hess into custody Monday and charged him with making a threat online.

According to unsealed documents, authorities say Hess threatened a mass shooting at NMSU during an anonymous online chat four days after a mass shooting near a college in Isla Vista, California, that left seven people dead.

Investigators say an anonymous chatter snapped a screen shot of Hess' message and posted it the NMSU Facebook page.

The school evacuated the campus two days later.

Hess was ordered held without bond Tuesday and has been appointed a federal public defender.

SHERIFF-FEDERAL INVESTIGATION

Prosecutors seeks to drop charges on sheriff's son

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal prosecutors want to dismiss charges against the son of an indicted northern New Mexico sheriff who was accused along with his father of roughing up a driver during an off-duty traffic stop.

U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez said Wednesday that prosecutors have filed a motion to dismiss charges against Thomas Rodella, Jr.

Rodella and his father, Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella, were indicted this month for conspiracy to violate a motorist's civil rights during the March encounter.

Court papers say the sheriff wasn't in uniform when he chased down the motorist, jumped out of his personal SUV with a gun and shoved his badge in the motorist's face.

Prosecutors say the younger Rodella may lack the cognitive ability necessary to prove the charges against him.

DRUNK-DRIVING KILLING

Shiprock man gets 6 years for drunk-driving death

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a Shiprock man has been sentenced to six years in prison for killing a passenger while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 39-year-old Alvert Miller was sentenced Wednesday morning in the April 2013 drunken-driving accident. He will also have to serve five years of supervised release following his sentence.

Miller pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April.

Authorities say Miller was intoxicated when he lost control of his truck on a highway near Littlewater on the Navajo Nation. The impact led to the death of a 53-year-old Navajo man.

Prosecutors say Miller had prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.

FATAL TRUCK CRASH

I-40 in Laguna closed after deadly semi crash

LAGUNA, N.M. (AP) - Authorities say part of Interstate 40 in Laguna has been shut down due to a fatal crash involving two semi trucks.

New Mexico State Police say both trucks crashed around midnight Wednesday, killing a 59-year-old man at the scene. He is believed to be the driver of one truck.

Police say a driver and passenger from one semi were treated and released from a hospital with minor injuries.

They say both vehicles were in eastbound lanes. Heavy rain and speed may have been factors.

The investigation is ongoing.

Authorities have closed eastbound I-40 between Laguna and Mesita and drivers should expect delays.

INFANT MORTALITY

New Mexico's infant mortality rate drops

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico health officials say the state's infant mortality rate has dropped significantly.

The state Department of Health said Tuesday the latest figures show a decrease from 6.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012 to 5.4 in 2013.

Health Secretary Retta Ward says the rate can vary substantially year to year and steep increases or decreases are not uncommon.

Ward says the department continues to try to understand the causes and implement initiatives to prevent or decrease infant deaths.

Birth defects as well as low birth weight and disorders related to preterm births were the most common causes of infant deaths in 2012.

The department says it has been participating in a regional collaborative to reduce infant mortality.

ESPANOLA FOOD BANK-PETS

Food bank, humane society partner for pets

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - The Espanola Valley Humane Society and the northern New Mexico food bank are teaming up to make sure low income New Mexicans also have food for their pets.

The humane society and The Food Depot said Tuesday they will launch an 18-month pilot partnership to provide donated pet food through The Food Depot's Mobile Food Pantry Program, which delivers food to multiple locations across Espanola, Chimayo, Dixon, El Rito, Ojo Caliente, Truchas and Vallecitos.

Officials say local businesswoman Evelyn Ward brought the nonprofits together to launch the program.

The Espanola Valley Humane Society says it will also use the program to expand the reach of its free spay and neutering program.

SANTA FE MARIJUANA

Santa Fe City Council to consider pot measure

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Santa Fe City Council is considering a proposal that would put a measure decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana on the November ballot.

The New Mexican reports that officials will hold a public hearing Wednesday, a day after the Santa Fe County Commission unanimously approved a similar resolution.

Activists have submitted enough valid voter signatures to force a public vote on the matter.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran says she is not sure if it will fit on an already crowded general election ballot.

The proposal would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by a fine of no more than $25.

Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in Santa Fe now is a petty misdemeanor for the first offense.

FOREST HEALTH

Inventory: NM pinon, juniper trees are growing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The most abundant types of forest in New Mexico are made up of pinon and juniper trees.

A five-year inventory of the state's forested lands shows the popular trees cover more than 13.6 million acres.

The inventory also shows pinon woodlands that are old enough to produce harvest-worthy quantities of pine nuts occupy about 8 million acres in New Mexico.

Officials say the inventory is the most comprehensive collection of forest health trends in the state's history. It's based on the work of state and federal researchers who studied more than 3,000 areas across New Mexico between 2008 and 2012.

Despite positive growth rates among pinon and juniper, researchers documented an increase in mortality and a decline in growth in trees overall. They pointed to pests, wildfires and disease, which are all related to weather patterns such as drought.

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