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Bill to remove murder statute of limitation advances

SANTA FE, N.M. — Under current New Mexico law, prosecutors have six years after a crime is committed to file second-degree murder charges.

A bipartisan attempt to do away with that statute of limitations cleared a key House committee Tuesday, with backers citing several high-profile Albuquerque cases.

In one case, Ellen Snyder pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2011 for shooting her husband in 2002 and burying his body in a hole that was then covered by a concrete slab. She received an 11-year sentence for the crime.

Another case mentioned was that of 11 women found buried on the West Mesa in 2009. There have been no arrests in the case.

Under the current law, prosecutors have to choose between first-degree murder – a charge that carries a premeditation requirement – or lesser charges if six years has passed since a slaying occurred.

“The government should never lose jurisdiction of prosecuting an intentional murder,” said Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, a Democrat who is sponsoring the measure with another Albuquerque lawmaker, Rep. William “Bill” Rehm, a Republican.

The legislation, House Bill 33, now advances to the House Judiciary Committee.

Sunshine Portal: A proposal to make sure there aren’t long shadows in the state’s Sunshine Portal is advancing in the Senate.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted without dissent to approve the legislation, Senate Bill 83, which would appropriate funding to hire an independent company to review compliance with the Sunshine Portal Transparency Act.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Sander Rue, an Albuquerque Republican, who spearheaded efforts to create the online transparency database in 2010.

A recent Journal report outlined out-of-date information on the portal. The front page of the portal, for instance, listed the contact information for an employee who left the state months ago and misspelled the name of another employee.

“Those government agencies are not following the law and are denying members of the public access to information they need and deserve about their state government,” Rue said Tuesday.

The bill now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee.

Dan Boyd: