Morning Word

Cerrillos Road Suspect Faces a Dozen Charges

Media group acquires three Gannett newspapers

Cerrillos Road suspect faces a dozen charges

State prosecutors yesterday filed motions to hold Jermaine Garcia until trial, noting no conditions would adequately protect the public were he to be released. Garcia, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports, remains hospitalized following an April 24 incident in which Santa Fe Police shot him on Cerrillos Road, where Garcia had attempted a carjacking before menacing multiple people with a knife he had stolen from nearby Cafe Castro. Garcia has been charged with close to a dozen felonies, including assault on a police officer. The probable cause statement included with the motion to detain Garcia details some of those events. While perhaps the most high-profile, the April 24 incident was one of several concerning situations unfolding in Cerrillos Road. As the New Mexican reports, traffic has been increasing on the street, along with accidents involving both cars and pedestrians. These include two crashes on Friday in which people were hit trying to cross the road outside the crosswalk, and a third pile-up. A police spokesman tells the paper SFPD has noted an uptick of road rage for at least the last four years. As it happens, New Mexico recently ranked second in a Consumer Affairs report on road rage.

Local group acquires three more newspapers

El Rito Media, which purchased the Rio Grande SUN two years ago, has acquired three Gannett newspapers: the Alamogordo Daily News, the Carlsbad Current Argus, and the Ruidoso News, according to a news release from Santa Fe-based media merger and acquisition firm Dirks, Van Essen & April, which handled the transaction. El Rito Media also bought The Artesia Daily Press last year. As SFR reported following the Rio Grande SUN sale, El Rito Media’s principals include Harvey Yates, Jr., an oil executive who served as the state Republican Party’s national committeeman from 2016 through 2020. “We appreciate Gannett’s willingness to sell us these local newspapers with long and proud histories of serving their respective communities,” Yates said in a statement. According to the news release, management will begin adding staff to all three newspapers and start interviews right away for more editors, reporters and sales positions, with Rio Grande SUN editor and publisher Richard L. Connor overseeing all five newspapers.

Supreme Court orders confidentiality for non-citizen victims

The state Supreme Court yesterday issued orders shielding visa information of crime victims from the men accused of the crimes and their defense attorneys for possible use in trials. As detailed in a news release from the courts, the order reverses two district courts’ evidentiary decisions that required disclosure of crime victims’ T and U visa applications, as well as related information from them and their parents, for the defense of men who had been charged with crimes against them. In one case, San Juan County man David Paulino Padilla-Suazo was charged with two counts of criminal sexual contact with a child under 13 after the girl’s noncitizen parents reported the alleged crimes to police. In the other, Bernalillo County man Alberto Villanueva Capri, was charged with sex crimes, child abuse and bribery of a witness involving a girl he brought from Honduras whom he allegedly began sexually abusing at the age of 12. Legal reasoning for the court’s order will be issued at a later date but, the news release notes, the federal government created T and U visas for victims of human trafficking and other crimes, respectively, “to encourage noncitizen crime victims and survivors of human trafficking to report the crimes without fear of deportation and to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute the offenders. If granted, the visas provide a legal nonimmigrant status for people to remain temporarily in the US and a pathway to securing a ‘green card’ providing them lawful permanent resident status.”

Early voting begins

Yesterday marked the start of early voting for the Tuesday, June 4 primary election, which will feature several contested races among Democrats in Santa Fe County. Voters can vote in-person and early at the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office (100 Catron St.), with more early voting spots becoming available May 18. In-person registration also began yesterday for the primary, which requires registration with one of the three major parties in the state (Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians) to participate. For more even more information about the election, be sure to check out SFR’s primary election FAQ, which includes details about this year’s candidates; how to find your sample ballot; and links to other useful information this season, such as the League of Women Voters of New Mexico Santa Fe County voter guide. While the League’s guide includes candidate questionnaire responses, you can find candidates’ quizzes only in one spot: SFR, where we continue our election tradition of testing incumbents and newbies alike on their knowledge of the offices they seek. Find pop quizzes for Santa Fe County Commission District 2 candidates in this week’s paper and online.

Listen up

The School for Advanced Research offers a free hybrid colloquium at 1:30 pm today for its 2023-2024 Anne Ray Interns. Rachel Morris (Oglala Lakota Nation) and Lorna Maie Thomas (Kanien’keha:ka/Mohawk Bear Clan from Akwesasne) will present and discuss the research and work they have undertaken while in residence, followed by a Q&A. SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center offers two nine-month internships to recent college graduates, current graduate students or junior museum professionals “interested in furthering their professional museum experience and in contributing to the expanding field and discourse of museum studies.”

On the road again

“Here’s the dream,” Outside magazine writes. “Quit your job and hit all 64 national parks in one huge multi-month road trip where you live mostly in a van and finally see all of these iconic landscapes for yourself.” Too ambitious? Worry not; Outside breaks down that multi-month dream into nap-sized bites, including a four- to five-day, 300-mile road trip in New Mexico and Texas that will take travelers to White Sands National Park, Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Though close on the map, the three sites provide a variety of “terrain” and climates, the story notes: “White Sand Dunes is hot (but not like J-Tree or Death Valley), Carlsbad is underground, and Guadalupe is chilly.” Moreover, “these parks don’t see the crowds that some of the big-ticket units draw in summer, so there’s a better chance for quiet and good campsites.” For more ideas for your summer get-away, The Travel rounds up the best hotels in the 10 most beautiful US villages, including El Pueblo Lodge in Taos, a pet-friendly, affordable former ranch “decorated with warm and rich Taos colors.” Travel and Leisure magazine, meanwhile, says Hotel Chaco “helped turn Albuquerque into a hot destination.” For those in search of a summer road trip with a Halloween vibe, PHOENIX magazine’s latest edition includes a “supernatural Southwest” road trip with stops in Roswell (a very hot Halloween vibe), among other spots. “Not only does the Southwest look otherworldly, it feels that way, too,” Jessica Dunham writes, citing Taos and Chaco Canyon among “places on Earth purported to harness and amplify the planet’s energy.”

Digging in the dirt

Santa Fe County recently announced an opportunity for residents to participate in an annual backyard composting program through its Sustainability Division’s partnership with Reunity Resources. Free composting systems are available on a first-come, first-served basis to residents and current customers of the county’s solid waste convenience centers (meaning for the most part folks without trash and recycling pickup who take their waste and recyclables to one of the county’s solid waste centers), with applications accepted until 5 pm, May 31. The program is intended for people who don’t already compost, with “exceptions considered on a case-by-case basis.” Find more info and apply to the program here. County residents may also call Sustainability Specialist Michael Carr 505-995-9515 or email with questions. Meanwhile, gardeners of all levels will likely want to mark their calendars for this Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm, when the Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners Fair (one of SFR’s picks of the week) returns to the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds after a four-year pandemic hiatus, with a variety of native plants and gardening tools on sale from local nurseries; demonstrations and art exhibits; lectures from gardening experts; food trucks and even live music. Avra Leodas, this year’s chair of the Garden Fair, tells SFR she’s excited to see the event come together. “Gardening in this climate is not easy, and many people get discouraged,” she says. “We’re a resource…here to support, encourage and advise—that’s what Master Gardeners do.”

Tis the patchy blowing dust season

Another red flag warning today, as the National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high near 67 degrees, breezy, with a northwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon and wind gusts as high as 35 mph. Look for more “patchy blowing dust” after 3 pm.

Thanks for reading! After watching Stephen Colbert’s recap of yesterday’s Storm Daniels testimony, The Word went looking for the dogs the Chinese Zoo painted to look like pandas.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.