Three years after attack, urban Indian population remains vulnerable

ALBUQUERQUE – With cuts and bruises on his face, back and shoulders, Jerome Eskeets frantically told police about the violent assault he barely survived the night before. In his 30s, Eskeets had been sleeping in an empty lot on Albuquerque’s west side with friends and relations, Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson, who like Eskeets were Diné, as members of the Navajo Nation call themselves. Soon after talking to Eskeets, police found Gorman’s and Thompson’s bludgeoned bodies. The 2014 crime shocked Albuquerque, the state and occasionally made national news as the cases against the three defendants eventually arrested in the brutal killings — youths Alex Rios, Nathaniel Carrillo and Gilbert Tafoya — worked their way through the court system. Three years later, the judicial system is nearing an end to the case.

Bail amendment passes convincingly

New Mexicans on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to limit the role of money in judges’ decisions about which defendants stay locked up and which go free before trial. According to unofficial election results from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website, roughly 87 percent, or 610,000 of 699,000 New Mexicans supported a change to the state constitution aimed at reforming the use of commercial bail.

Bail on NM ballot: Should money determine freedom?

 

Tom Chudzinski rode out of Albuquerque on a Greyhound bus before the sun rose one morning last month, his only remaining possessions tucked into a backpack, a small duffel bag and a cardboard box, which held his disassembled bicycle. The retired architect had pulled into Albuquerque five months earlier in a motorhome crowded with the keepsakes from his 62 years of life: power tools, drafting instruments, personal records and clothing. He was living in the home while traveling the western U.S.

The unraveling began on June 3, when Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies knocked on the door of his motorhome and, smelling alcohol on his breath, arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving. Although they hadn’t seen him driving, they believed he had crashed his RV into a parked vehicle at a truck stop that sits on a dusty patch of mesa on the city’s far west side. This story was produced in collaboration with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Changes coming to controversial APD drug stings — or not?

A member of an Albuquerque city committee charged with working with APD on mental health issues is confused by the department’s apparent conflicting responses after a reverse sting operation made news last month. On one hand there was a “productive” meeting with police officials who said the department would change how future sting operations are conducted. Police officers arrested of mostly homeless people, some struggling with mental illness. On the other, a letter about the reverse sting operation from Police Chief Gorden Eden days after the meeting reflected none of these promised changes.

Bail proposal clears Senate

Chances are good that SJR1 will clear the House, too, a powerful lawmaker from that chamber said. “This is an issue on which we need to be pragmatists,” Republican House Majority Leader Nate Gentry of Albuquerque said. “We have a very delicate balance right now where we have the support of district attorneys. We have the support of the criminal defense attorneys. You don’t see that often.”

Storefront Lenders Block Rate Caps in House Committee

Storefront lenders scored a win Tuesday in Santa Fe when the House Business and Employment Committee unanimously voted to block an effort to ask New Mexicans to vote on whether to cap interest rates on installment loans this November.