In Brief - New Mexico News - Oct. 11, 2013

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The Associated Press

AG: Abortion ban unenforceable

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says a proposed ban on late-term abortions in Albuquerque is unenforceable.
In a letter Wednesday to Albuquerque City Council member Trudy Jones, King says the proposal that goes to city voters next month would run afoul of the state and U.S. constitutions.
Jones, who has sought to keep the issue off the ballot, asked King for a formal opinion on the legality of the measure. King says only state officials can seek a formal opinion, but he issued the letter because “voters have the right to know and decide whether they want to bear the protracted expense of litigation over a measure that is unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
A special election on the matter was scheduled after anti-abortion groups submitted petitions with the required signatures to put the question to voters.

Mental health defense planned

Attorneys for an Arizona inmate who may be sentenced to death for killing an Oklahoma couple following a prison break may launch a mental health defense during the sentencing phase of his trial.
The defense filed a motion in federal court Tuesday afternoon saying it intends to introduce evidence about John McCluskey’s state of mind.
McCluskey was convicted Monday on 20 counts stemming from the carjacking and murders of Gary and Linda Haas. The retired couple from Tecumseh, Okla., was killed in 2010 in New Mexico after crossing paths with McCluskey, his girlfriend and his prison bunkmate following their escape from an Arizona prison.
The Albuquerque jury that convicted McCluskey will decide whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison. The penalty phase is expected to take weeks.

$19M damage to NM roads

New Mexico officials say recent flooding caused about $19.8 million in damage to roads.
In a briefing for a legislative panel on Tuesday, state Department of Transportation estimated it will cost about $13 million to repair state Route 159 in southwestern New Mexico.
Part of the road leading to the tiny community of Mogollon was destroyed last month after heavy rains caused flooding.
A department spokeswoman said reconstruction of two miles of the road near Mogollon will cost about $3 million and it will take $10 million to realign other parts of the road and deal with extensive erosion.
Bulldozers have created a temporary road only for local access by high clearance vehicles.
Damages totaled about $3 million to state Route 1 in Socorro County.

Stations sold contaminated gas

ALBUQUERQUE — Some Albuquerque motorists who filled up their tanks earlier this week got trouble along with their gas.
Cars fueled at two gas stations began breaking down, slowing down and stopping without warning.
KOB-TV reports that state investigators determined that water sold from two Giant gas stations was contaminated with water and didn’t have enough gasoline content to spark the engine.
Giant spokesman Gary Hanson says it got a few loads of bad fuel from a refinery.
According to KRQE-TV, Western Refining says it has pumped out and replaced the bad fuel at affected locations.

Police arrest homebuilder

SANTA FE — A former New Mexico homebuilder facing charges of embezzlement and fraud has been arrested in Massachusetts.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 68-year-old William Kalinowski is being held in the Plymouth County Correctional Facility after being arrested at his home in Duxbury.
A state District judge in Santa Fe on Monday issued a bench warrant for Kalinowski after he did not appear at an arraignment.
Judge Stephen Pfeffer refused to accept a waiver that Kalinowski filed to not appear.
Kalinowski left Santa Fe in 2008 owing millions of dollars to investors, subcontractors and banks and with about a dozen homes unfinished.

Steakhouse to hold fake funeral

ALBUQUERQUE — An Albuquerque steakhouse plans to hold a make-believe funeral for Walter White, the chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin on the popular AMC drama “Breaking Bad” that was filmed in the city.
Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse says it will hold the service on Saturday afternoon for White, who was killed in the September series finale.
It will take place at Sunset Memorial Park, with “Breaking Bad” set decorator Michael Flowers delivering the eulogy. A Saturday night reception will follow.
But fans will have to pay to attend, with proceeds going to an endowment for substance abuse prevention programs in Albuquerque.
Packages for tickets to the funeral and reception start at $20 and go to $5,000. Fans can also purchase baby blue silicone Walter White bracelets for $10.

Two hurt when balloon hits line

RIO RANCHO — A balloon flying in Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta hit a power line as it tried to land Wednesday, sending two men to the hospital with burns and injuries from a 40-foot fall, officials said.
Police in Rio Rancho, a northwest Albuquerque suburb, said the balloon got tangled in the line at about 8:30 a.m. When the passenger reached out to free the balloon, he was shocked, festival spokesman Tom Garrity said.