Pamela Foster, mother of Ashlynne Mike—the 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered on the Navajo Nation in May—started a petition on Change.org calling on tribal leaders to write a criminal justice reform bill that would bring heavier sentencing on first-time cases involving the abuse of a minor, and would allow capital punishment in cases relating to the murder of a minor. The death penalty is illegal in the Navajo Nation, although federal prosecutors can pursue capital punishment in certain crimes that are under the US government's jurisdiction—due to a 2007 federal court ruling made by Judge Pamela Ann Rymer suggesting that tribal laws do not overrule the federal government’s jurisdiction in every case. Foster's petition followed an announcement made last month by Gov. Susana Martinez that she will be supporting the reinstatement of the death penalty in N.M. next year. The governor cited Ashlynne's death in the announcement, as well as the murder of Officer Jose Chavez in Hatch and other cases. She did not specify which crimes she believes warrant capital punishment.
Fake Bomb Causes Flight Delays
A man was arrested last Sunday—the 15th anniversary of 9/11—for allegedly bringing a fake bomb into Albuquerque International Sunport. Authorities placed Jeremy Danielson, 40, into custody after the device was discovered by TSA agents. Police say the fake explosive was found inside a suspicious-looking package left at a security checkpoint, which was evacuated by airport security around 2pm. The discovery brought APD’s bomb squad, who examined the hoax bomb before giving the all-clear around 4pm. Numerous flights were delayed during the scare, but normal operations reportedly resumed around 5pm. Danielson is being charged under the state law prohibiting facsimile explosives. No information has been released regarding a motive for the hoax.
Balloon Landings Banned in Sandia Pueblo
Sandia Pueblo officials are banning balloon landings on their reservation this year, making some International Balloon Fiesta organizers and enthusiasts nervous about the gathering's outcome. They say the entire event—one of the largest economic draws for the state—could be canceled by a literal change of the wind. A video released last Saturday outlining pilots' rules for the fiesta labeled the 40-square miles of reservation as a “red zone,” meaning balloons cannot land there and must remain between 200 and 500 feet above ground level when passing over. In past years, balloonists were allowed to land inside the reservation, as long as they followed certain rules, and organizers are confused as to why the change was made this year. Executive Director for Balloon Fiesta, Paul Smith, says he is still reaching out to the Governor of the Sandia Pueblo in hope of negotiating an agreement that will respect the tribe's wishes and allow balloonists to enter the reservation if it's needed. Balloon experts say that wind direction can change depending on the balloon's altitude, so restricting the direction they can fly will restrict the heights at which pilots will be able to fly.