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State roundup: Victim had reported abuse

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By Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — A 9-year-old Albuquerque boy who allegedly was killed by his mother had disclosed physical abuse to authorities a year ago.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that police investigators have found documents indicating that Omaree Varela disclosed abuse to school officials. Details of the alleged abuse aren’t available but a police spokeswoman says school officials reported the disclosure to police and that police investigators consulted the District Attorney’s Office and state child-welfare officials.
Synthia Varela-Casaus is accused of causing her son’s death on Dec. 27 by kicking him repeatedly. She is charged with child abuse resulting in death.
She has said she was disciplining the boy and that she didn’t intend for him to die.

Court upholds Taos man’s stabbing conviction

SANTA FE — New Mexico’s highest court has upheld a Taos man’s conviction for stabbing his 1-year-old son to death after a domestic dispute with the mother.
Christopher Barney was sentenced to life in prison for the May 2010 death of the infant.
The state Supreme Court on Monday upheld Barney’s convictions of intentional child abuse resulting in death. Barney contended that a judge wrongly allowed testimony at his trial from the infant’s mother that Barney hit her earlier on the night of the baby’s death.
The prosecution had argued that evidence of the fight established a possible motive that Barney killed the baby to get back at the mother.

Legislator seeks vote on marijuana legalization

ALBUQUERQUE — A state legislator wants New Mexico voters to decide whether to legalize sale of recreational marijuana.
Democratic Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque says he plans legislation for a constitutional amendment for marijuana legalization.
Ortiz y Pino said his proposal will be modeled after a referendum that Colorado voters approved in 2012.
If approved by New Mexico legislators, the legalization proposal would go on the state’s November general election ballot.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez opposes drug legalization but constitutional amendment proposals go straight from the Legislature to the ballot.

NMSU professor leads bilingual literacy project

LAS CRUCES — An associate professor at New Mexico State University has launched a bilingual literacy project for elementary school students and their families.
NMSU’s College of Education is receiving funding for the project through a $15,000 Stocker Foundation grant. The project is focused on second- and third-grade students at two elementary schools in the Hatch district.
Professor Anita Hernandez says the program aims to get families to share their stories through bilingual and multicultural books.
NMSU faculty and the elementary school teachers plan to meet twice a month with Hatch families.