The news is the news is the news. Except when New Mexico is involved. In that case one can almost expect a deluge of narratives focused on the tendency our state has to break bad. Though traditionally an enchanted place filled with natural wonder and wonderful people, the things we as readers and writers tend to remember are often sad, frustrating or perplexing. At year's end, as we reflect on the the events, people and phenomena that made New Mexico noteworthy, it's always possible to remain optimistic—as long as one keeps the phrase “there's always next year” in mind. With that caveat in place, here're the Alibi's choice for top news stories of the year 2015.
Perez and Sandy Charged
In August, after a seven day hearing, Judge Neil Candelaria ruled that APD Officer Dominique Perez and retired Detective Keith Sandy should stand trial for the murder of homeless camper James Boyd. Boyd was killed after a three hour standoff with police in the foothills of the Sandia mountains in March of 2014. Although lawyers for the two policemen argued that Boyd died as a result of his own threatening actions, Candelaria ruled “that the state has established probable cause as to all the counts in the amended information. The court will bind the matters over for trial.” The two have since been arraigned; defense attorneys are currently working on seeking a change of venue, while special prosecutors Randi McGinn and Kevin Holmes argued last week that the trial should stay in Albuquerque.
Governor Susana Martinez' professional lapse after a holiday party brings to light the sort of political shenanigans that have made our state notorious in the eyes of the national press. After a confrontation with local police over the goings-on in her luxurious room at Santa Fe's Eldorado Hotel, reporters at the Santa Fe New Mexican and NM Political Report took note—and released tapes of a seemingly confused governor arguing with and apparently bullying hotel employees and a unit of the local police dispatched to her location. The whole event grew legs when another recording—this one from an officer's belt recorder—was released to the public. Following that event, the Washington Post's national political correspondent James Hohmann wrote, “The latest setback for any future aspirations Martinez might have came yesterday when the tape of a police officer’s belt recorder was released publicly. The governor sounds intoxicated as she speaks with the cop about a noise complaint in her hotel room and a report that bottles had been thrown from the balcony.” And she had such a promising future only a month ago.
Violence Takes its Toll
Violence in Albuquerque, some of it caused by guns, left its mark on our collective psyche many times this year. Most notoriously so, the Oct. 20 road-rage shooting of 4-year-old Lilly Garcia stands out for its casual brutality. Garcia was killed after an incident in which her father gestured angrily toward a vehicle driven by Albuquerque resident Tony Torrez. In a police interview, Torrez said that he fired two warning shots at a vehicle that had tried to run him off the road. Only afterwards did he realize he might have caused some damage. “I'm fucked,” Torrez told police during his confession.
In another example of the savagery possible in the Duke City, a former Sandia Labs employee residing in the Four Hills subdivision was stabbed to death after an auto burglary gone wrong during the Christmas weekend. Anonymous tipsters lead APD to Tyler Hernandez, who has been charged with the murder of William McKinley. McKinley heard noises early Saturday morning, went outside to check them out and ended up dead after confronting Hernandez.