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Local News

  • Rael stands trial for child pornography

    Los Alamos resident David Rael stood trial on this week for charges of manufacturing and possession of child pornography. Rael allegedly downloaded several files that depicted boys and girls under the age of 18 involved in various sexual situations with adults through the file sharing program called Ares.

    When asked about the files on his computer, Rael attributed the questionable videos to being blind in one eye and being intoxicated at the time of the alleged downloads.
    Rael, defended by Marc Edwards, holds the position of whether the videos in question was ever opened or watched in its entirety by the defendant.

    Rael was arrested for driving while intoxicated and causing an accident Jan 2016. He pleaded no contest to his DWI and was sentenced to 364 days in jail.

    In total, Rael is facing three counts of manufacturing child pornography, one count of possession and one count of distributing.

    The state gave its opening statement, which ran through the details of the case. “All the evidence and testimonies that the state will present today will show the defendant guilty of three counts of manufacturing child pornography, one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography,” stated Assistant Attorney General Celedonia Munoz.

  • County hosts Dump the Pump Day

    Los Alamos County hosted its first ever, local Annual National Dump the Pump Day Thursday.

    Participants were invited to bring their bikes and appetites for a 3-mile community ride, followed by a free lunch of hot dogs, chips and refreshments.

    A few lucky people also had the chance to win the raffle for a mountain bike donated by Wal-Mart, and adult bike helmets donated by the Los Alamos Heart Council.

    The event, which was originally set for May 19 as part of Bike to Work Day, is part of a larger initiative to highlight bicycling as an effective form of transportation in Los Alamos.

    “One of the big goals that we are trying to achieve is to be considered a bike-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists,” said County Engineer Eric Martinez. “These events recognize the good system for residents to use and also let visitors know that you can also get around town on bikes.”

    Among the participants were members of the Los Alamos Fire Department and Los Alamos Police Department bike patrols.

    “I think it’s a good thing for the community and to show support for getting the word out about biking,” said Ryan Weir of the Los Alamos Fire Department, when asked why he chose to participate.

  • Bingham trial delayed

    The preliminary hearing for a former Los Alamos detention officer being accused of child sexual abuse has been postponed until Aug. 10.

    Deputy District Attorney Michael Nunez said the charges against Dustin Bingham, 36, are still being investigated.
    “There is still an ongoing investigation,” Nunez said.

    Bingham was arrested May 3 after he confessed to Los Alamos County police to having sexual contact with two children. He is also being accused of secretly setting up secret video and social media accounts for his alleged victims so they could communicate with Bingham without the children’s parents finding out.

    When confronted by police through a conference call between the relatives who reported the crimes to police and Bingham, Bingham allegedly told police that he would sometimes fondle the children “when the girls were wearing bras and sometimes when they were not wearing bras. Dustin also stated he ‘needed help.’” LAPD Det. Ryan Wolking said in his report.

    Bingham is facing eight counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, one count of child solicitation by electronic communication device and two counts of sexual exploitation of children.

  • Update: El Cajete fire now over 700 acres

    Things are expected to get worse before they get better for firefighters battling the El Cajete Fire this weekend. The fire has grown from a 50-acre fire yesterday afternoon to a 700 acre fire this morning, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

    So far, personnel fighting the fire have managed to save all structures in the path of the fire.

    Temperatures are expected to stay in the low-to-mid 80s throughout the weekend with minimum relative humidity levels between four and eight percent. The fire is heading in an eastern, southeasterly pattern, which hasn’t changed from yesterday.

    NM4 continues to remain closed from the intersection of NM 4 and NM 126. No new evacuations have taken place yesterday. The Sandoval County Sheriff’s office has set up an escort at mile marker 27 NM 4 for residents who need to go back to their houses to retrieve pets and valuable items.

    The strategy for today is “full suppression.”  U.S. Forest Service officials said in their latest update. About 130 personnel are on the scene today with multiple engines, one bulldozer, a helicopter, three air tankers, one Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) and one lead plane.

    The fire area has had little to no moisture over the last two weeks, and hot, dry conditions are expected to continue.

  • Pojoaque Fire Department puts out fire on NM 502

    Late Thursday evening, the Pojoaque Fire Department responded to a fire on Highway 502 near Mino and Greg’s Automotive and Towing.

    The fire started on the side of the road, but the road was not shut down to traffic. The fire crews were able to successfully put out the fire.

  • Fire in Jemez Mountains forces evacuation, West Jemez Road closure

    The El Cajete Fire that started at 10:47 a.m. in the Jemez Mountains has grown to 700 acres as of 9 p.m. Thursday, according to forest service officials.

    The fire has forced the evacuation and the closure of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and is slowly moving eastward toward Los Alamos.

    Wind and speed of the fire were a factor as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday, but according to one report, the fire would have to continue burning 15 miles eastward before it hit Bandelier National Monument and then the White Rock area or the Los Alamos National Laboratory property.

    The speed of the fire was burning at 35 acres per hour, according Lt. Keith Elder of the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office.

    About 200 residents had been evacuated by 6 p.m. Gov. Susana Martinez has activated the emergency operations center.

    "New Mexicans know better than most just how devastating wildfires can be, and as we face this year's fire season together, we're also reminding everyone to keep safety in mind and be prepared," Martinez said in a statement.

    The fire started at mile marker 33 on N.M. 4 in the Sierra de los Pinos area, north of Jemez Springs, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The official cause of the fire has not been determined.

  • Wildfire prompts smoke advisory for northern New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — State health and environment officials have issued a smoke advisory for part of northern New Mexico due to a lightning-caused fire in the Carson National Forest.
    The advisory will remain in effect through Friday for Vallecitos Canyon and surrounding communities.
    The fire has grown to about three square miles since being sparked June 3. Crews are working to secure the perimeter and clear out unburned fuel.
    Fire officials say the blaze is about 15 percent contained.
    Officials are advising residents to close their windows overnight through the early morning until the smoke lifts and visibility improves. They say smoke can irritate the respiratory system and intensify chronic heart and lung problems.

  • Suspect captured

    Ramon Acosta has been apprehended by Española police.

    “Ramon Acosta was located by Española Police Department last night and taken into custody,” LAPD Cmdr. Oliver Morris said.

  • UPDATE: Police locate suspect

    Española Police Department located suspect Ramon Manuel Acosta Wednesday night and he was taken into custody, according to the Los Alamos Police Department.

    Los Alamos police are searching for a 36-year-old man named Acosta. Acosta has a criminal history of armed robbery and aggravated assault, according to police.

    Acosta fled a crash scene on foot into the canyon south of Camino Cereza at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. He had an active warrant for a probation violation stemming from a robbery charge, police said in a release.

  • Truck crashes into lamp post on Trinity Drive

    Police and fire officials responded to a one-vehicle crash around 12:30 p.m. today at the intersection of Trinity Drive and 4th Street.

    A white Ford Ranger pickup truck heading westbound on Trinity crashed into a lamp post. The pickup truck came to a stop in the parking lot of the Hilltop Inn and Spa, which closed in 2012 and is no longer occupied.

    No one was injured, but the 44-year-old man driving the truck was cited for careless driving.

    Police at the scene would not release the man’s identity.  As police secured the scene, the westbound lane of Trinity Avenue was closed off for approximately 30 minutes while utility crews shut off power to the lamp and secured the debris.