The Office of the Medical Investigator announced last week that human remains found near a mass gravesite were not connected to the West Mesa murders case, but were the remains of ancient Native Americans.
According to a UNM Health Sciences press release, a forensic anthropologist and forensic dentist used dental features, bone weathering scales and “other observations” to determine the age of the bones—dated to have been deposited sometime between 1100 and 1300 AD. The park where the remains were found was previously the site of an archaeological dig which found a food storage pit and pottery shards, indicating it was used for food preparation.
The human remains were discovered last week by construction crews working on a park near the area where a mass grave connected to a series of slayings known as the “West Mesa murders” was found in 2009. The proximity led to speculation that the bones were related to the murder case.
The site is now under the jurisdiction of the State Archaeologist, who will be collecting any remaining skeletal fragments that are found for reburial. Authorities say it's unlikely that more remains will be found, however, as previous sampling found nothing of the sort.
Water Rights Ruling Sets Precedent
The Texas Tribune reports that a judge’s ruling in a battle over water allocation between the states of Florida and Georgia could potentially support claims made by the state of Texas in a lawsuit against New Mexico. The lawsuit accuses New Mexico of violating the Rio Grande Compact. The suit claims that New Mexican farmers are lowering Texas' water levels by pumping the river's groundwater.
A similar case's fate—Florida v. Georgia—was addressed by the US Supreme Court last week. The case was in danger of being dismissed because Florida was unable to provide a solution to the alleged problem. But the court ultimately ruled that, to go forward, Florida was only required to prove that Georgia's overuse of water had caused ecological or economic suffering for its neighbor.
Texas v. New Mexico is currently awaiting a preliminary ruling from a special master.
PNM Campaign Contributions Raise Questions
A political committee supported by PNM's parent company spent more than any other group near the end of the state's primary elections.
New Mexicans for Progress, a group which was only recently created, received $440,000 from PNM Resources Inc. during the primary season. According to the Albuquerque Journal, during the last week of the primaries, the political action committee paid about $163,000 to McCleskey Media Strategies, headed by Governor Susana Martinez' chief political adviser.
The committee's spending has raised questions of the legality of PNM's participation in the election, since some of the money went to fund ad campaigns attacking candidates for head of the Public Regulation Commission—the entity which regulates the energy company.
PNM maintains that its political participation is completely legal.