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New Mexican (Newspaper) - November 7, 1997, Santa Fe, New Mexico By BRUNO New Mexican The first of 19 people facing felony yote fraud charges con nected to Rio Arriba County elections who went to trial has been acquitted f Following nearly two days of testimony a state District Court jury on Wednesday found Espanola City Councilor Floyd Archuleta not guilty of a single count of ineligible ab sentee voting This trial shouldnt have gone this far It should have been thrown out a long time said Archuleta who was reelected to his fourth term in March 1996 I always knew I have done nothing On June 27 a citizencon vened grand jury indicted 19 of them Rio Ar riba County residents They in cluded a former state police captain two Espanola city councilors the Espanola city clerk the Rio Arriba County clerk and the county Demo cratic Party chairman The charges all of them fourthdegree felonies 4 ranged from voting illegally to ballotbox tampering to falsify ing election documents Most of the charges involved allega tions of voting by nonresidents in the March 1996 Espanola municipal election Today will be the second day of EspsnolavCity Councilor Al exandra Vigils vote fraud trial She is charged with three fourthdegree felonies ineli gible absentee voting conspir acy to violate the municipal election code and criminal so licitation The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of years in jail a fine or both Also Sobby Garcia charged with falsifying election docu ments and falsifying informa tion on a certificate of registra tion will appear for a hearing before state District Judge T Glenn Ellington today Already a Santa Fe man and six Rio Arriba County resi dents including Archuletas nephew Carl Archuleta have pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges of elec tjon Prosecutors alleged that Floyd Archuleta knew Carmen Martinez lived in Arroyo Seco when he encouraged her to ob tain an absentee ballot and vote in the March 1996 Es panola city election Martinez had allegedly ap proached Archuleta to get his advice on whether she could vote because she had moved out of the city a year before the elections Assistant District Attorney Michelle Leighton said that in stead of checking her address Archuleta told Martinez to vote and vote for him The defendant has been a city councilor for the past 14 years Shouldnt he know where the city limits are No ease part of Arroyo Seco is within the city Leighton said After agents for the state at torney generals office spoke with Martinez about the case Archuleta approached her to cover up his mistake Leighton said But Archuleta testified he never told Martinez to partici pate in the elections or specifi cally to vote for him Andhe denied asking her to lie to in vestigators about her story Martinez said Archuleta never asked her to vote for him But she said that Archu leta told her she could vote ter being informed that she had moved to Arroyo Seco The case was very thin from the beginning and it didnt take much particularly good lawyering to get an ac said Archuletasattor ney John A U He the state At torney Gerferal Tom Udall whose office is prosecuting the indictments along with the dis trict attorneys office should consider dropping the felony vote fraud charges against the remaining 11 Rio Arriba resi dents indicted A citizens grand jury really didnt understand the law and indicted these he said Ive maintained all along that the citizens grand jury was in stigated by investigators in Mr Udalls office The Associated Press con tributed to this report 7 1997 THE MEW MEXICAN 83 ped tribal officer buried By ANDREW STINY For The New Mexican TAGS State police say their investigation into the strangling of a Picuris Pueblo tribal police officer is ongoing and the status of the inquiry has not changed A funeral for Joseph Mermejo 23 was held Thursday at the pueblo church Mermejos body was found Monday morning un der a bridge on State Road 68 in Alcalde Mermejo had been returning Sunday night to Picuris with his twin brother James when they had a verbal State Police Capt Rudy Acosta said James Mermejo dropped the vic tim off in the vicinity where he was later found Acosta said James Mermejo called police af ter he returned the next day and found Mermejo dead the officer said The brothers were returning from a party Sunday at the San Juan Pueblo just north of Es paftola police said Acosta was asked Thursday about possible suspects in the case Since there are no wit nesses I dont think we would ook at prime suspects while we are gathering evidence from the crime scene and from the Office of the Medical Acosta said Acosta said he had no knowl edge of any search warrants is sued in the case Margaret Chavez community relations coordinator with the Pueblo Office of Environmental Protection in Albuquerque at tended the funeral and knew both brothers who were identical twins It was very sad a lot of people showed up a lot of friends the family got a lot of Chavez said She said she met Jo seph Mermejo a month ago dur ing a cleanup project at Picuris The twins look so much alike that she confused Joseph for James whom Chavez said she has known for two years Chavez said she has worked with James Mermejo who is an environmental technician at the pueblo Chavez works on envi ronmental issues with 19 New Mexico pueblos under the AllIn dian Pueblo Council Joseph Mermejo attended banta Fe Indian School and his classmates from the school at tended the funeral services Chavez said Joseph Mermejo had been a tribal police officer for about two months a family friend said Elizabeth Winter of Taos su pervised James Mermejo at the pueblo environment department and knew both brothers Those guys finish each others sen tences If there is such a thing as soul mates they were soul she said County No jurisdiction over power line The New Mexican Santa Fe County officials said Thursday they do not have juris diction over a controversial power line proposed by PNM Opponents of the proposed NortonTesuque line including film star and parttime Tesuque resident Robert Redford have urged the county to require the utility to apply to the county for a development permit But in a Nov 4 letter to PNM Bounty attorney Steven Kopel man stated that the countys land development code does not re quire a permit for utility line law is somewhat un Kopelman said Thursday But PNM seems to be Kopelman added that the line pri marily would cross Pueblo and Bureau of Land Management land over which the county does not have authority Kopelman said a permir could be required if the power line re quires that roads be cut Margot Steadman an attorney for Redford said she was disap pointed by the countys decision It seemed like the county had been moving in the direction of more local centre over develop ment and iand she said But now that seems to be re Kopelman said the county did not previously have enough in formation about the project to determine whether the it had ju risdiction or not Opponents say the line is bigger than needed They are arguing their case at a five day Public Utilities Commission hearing which began Wednes day WTTB COLOR COUPONSSUNDAY Lsr j i W9 THE SANTA JE i j gNEW MEXICANJ TODAYS TVTIPS Candid Cameras Battle of the Peter Funt and Suzanne Sorrv ers cohost this hour featuring interplay between men and women Among the segments a football coach sends his players to a fitness instructor teaching ballet firsttime fathers diaper a baby patrons evaluate a new perfume with no scent 7 CBS ABC Comedies Last season the gambled with a Las Vegas Night for its Wednesday sitcoms This time the bewitching Sabrina Melissa Joan Hart and cross over to other comedies in the TGIF lineup In her own show at 8 the young sorcer ess searches for Salem who runs away after swallowing a time Consequently the casts of Boy Meets World You Wish and Teen Angel land in different decades 7 ABC Is it better to be thin ner Not if youre the key character in this 1996 version of Stephen Kings thriller about an overweight attorney Robert John Burke cursed by a Gysy Michael Heavy man 9 Cinemax Nash Bridges Nash suspects that his older brother JanMichael Vin who was presumed dead after Vietnam may be involved in a drug war CBS Homicide Life on the Falsone and Lewis work with Stivers on the case of a badly beaten woman Meanwhile Pembleton awaits the out come of his wifes sudden labor 9 NBC w V w BasketbailfMagic at Pistons 6 TNT SPECIAL Sports and Music Festival 6 MTV MOVIES The Phantom 6 HBO The Professional 10 USA Los Angeles Times FRIDAY TELEVISION B3Q spam SB DEMAND RELIABLE INTERNET Demand DirectNet Oiractrfct Internet far Susinessi 98338QO Defeated onnectiaa nits Hct in arai o i x iiii rSortlicrn Wine Tasttna 7th 5r Z rfjndei Bie LYFIELD How Cwfd 337864 GB3 EgBKf BUB BB BO aa Quiney 252649 Movie The SKrcase 830842 CanceThaatre of Haitem 994674 Northern Etpeture 817945 t Order Movie Ensign 6390945 News 2S02S1 GoofTroop How Mermaid NewsOay Burden CNN Today H 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