Friday’s Top Stories

Friday’s Five Facts

[1] Judge weighs witness testimony in River of Lights hit-and-run case – In the trial for the man involved in the hit-and-run death of a seven-year-old boy outside of River of Lights in 2021, a witness testimony has caused chaos in the courtroom. The judge is weighing if a mistrial should be declared in Sergio Almanza’s case. Edgar Casas, admitted to jurors that he helped Almanza hide the ATV that hit and killed Pronoy Bhattacharya. However, Casas was not granted written immunity to possible charges tied to the crime. Now, Almanza’s defense is concerned they will not be able to fairly cross-examine. The state argued that Casas should be able to go back on the stand, but the defense says they will be denied the right for cross-examination due to Casas now pleading the Fifth. Casas and his attorney are expected to meet with both sides Friday morning. After that, the judge should make a decision on what happens with Casas’ testimony.

[2] Video: Aftermath of fatal crash involving MDC corrections officer – May 21 near MDC on the eastbound I-40 frontage road, just after 1 a.m., a corrections officer was headed home when he slammed into Gustavo Garcia and Erick Varela killing them. Erick Varela’s Can-Am off-road vehicle had broken down partially on the frontage road. His friend, Gustavo Garcia, and his family went to help Varela repair the broken belt on the back of the vehicle. The corrections officer told deputies he was driving about 45 to 50 miles per hour, and just didn’t see the group in the road. The driver was not arrested. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said they’re still investigating the crash, and at this time the corrections officer is not facing any charges.

[3] New Mexico sees storm chances through the weekend – Scattered storms will develop in the west/southwest mountains, Sacramento Mountains and Sangre de Cristo Mountains during the early afternoon hours. Storms will move northeast into the adjacent Rio Grande Valley and eastern highlands by mid afternoon and this evening. The Metro may see a couple of hit or miss storms Friday evening. The driest parts of the state will be the Four Corners and the southeast plains. Saturday, we will see morning showers and partly cloudy skies across the state, followed by a wet afternoon and evening.

[4] ABQ Biopark celebrates Komodo dragon’s birthday – The Albuquerque Biopark is wishing a happy birthday to its ten-year-old Komodo dragon “Indah” and taking the opportunity to let the public learn more about her species. The world’s largest lizard was listed as endangered in 2021 and has the smallest range of any large predator. Indah got a special carnivore-approved meal as staff escorted her out of the reptile house to explore the zoo grounds.