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Karen Ann Pietrolungo, 35, and John Joseph Rascon, 29, both of Trinidad, were arrested Saturday in connection with the stabbing death of Jeremy ‚€œAlex‚€Ě Popoff, on charges that could include first-degree murder after deliberation, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory to a crime and solicitation to commit murder. An additional suspect, Ashley Marie Sanchez, 30, also of Trinidad, is facing charges of accessory to a crime. A warrant has been issued for her arrest. Pietrolungo and Rascon are being held without bail in the Las Animas County Jail. Popoff, 33, was found dead from multiple stab wounds on May 15th inside his Trinidad home. Suspects in the case were not immediately determined. Mark Anthony Whatley, 21, was arrested in Farmington, Missouri, last month in connection to the case.
Governor Bill Ritter had little problem refusing an offer made yesterday by the Independence Institute‚€™s Jon Caldara. Caldara offered to remove Amendment 49 from this year‚€™s ballot. The initiative would bar local and state governments from withholding union dues or fees from workers‚€™ paychecks. In exchange, Caldara asked the governor to undo his executive order from last year that allowed state workers to form so-called partnerships with their employers, which Caldara says opens up state government to collective bargaining with unions. Currently, Governor Ritter is hoping to broker a deal that would call on Colorado‚€™s business community to actively campaign against Amendment 49 as well as Amendments 46 and 54 in exchange for the unions dropping their measures. Ritter said that Caldara‚€™s measure has little to do with his administration‚€™s partnership program, saying it already allows state workers to decline to join a workers‚€™ organization or pay union dues or fees.
The Saguache County Sheriff is investigating the discovery of burning skeletal remains on Saturday. The sheriff‚€™s office received a call at about 9:40am on Saturday regarding the discovery of a barrel that was burning at Saguache County Road 41G, about one and one-half miles from Highway 114, that contained what appeared to be human skeletal remains. Blood, clothing and other items were also found at the scene. CBI crime scene investigators were called in to assist the sheriff‚€™s staff and help was also provided by personnel from the state Division of Wildlife, the Saguache Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service. The skeletal remains have been sent to the El Paso County Medical Examiner‚€™s Office in Colorado Springs. Results from the forensic examination are not expected until later this week.
The Citizens for San Luis Valley Protection Coalition are alleging that oil and gas industry attorneys and governmental officials acted inappropriately regarding Lexam Exploration‚€™s plan to drill exploratory oil and gas wells in the Baca National Wildlife refuge. Lexam, a Canadian firm, owns the mineral rights under the refuge. The coalition is alleging that industry attorneys ‚€œimproperly collaborated with Bush administration officials in an ongoing attempt to pave the way for oil and gas exploration in the national wildlife refuge. The group maintains that emails, memos and other official records show that industry lobbyists and Lexam attorneys improperly influenced the analysis of Lexam‚€™s plan to drill exploratory wells on the Baca.
Vernon Watts, 69, of Monte Vista, died yesterday morning following a single-vehicle accident about 5 miles southeast of Center. Watts was reportedly northbound on Alamosa County Road 100 about 6:20am when his 1982 Chevrolet pickup went off the east side of the road and into a concrete ditch where it crashed into a concrete culvert. The accident occurred near the intersection of County Road 100 and County Road 8 north. Watts was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected during the accident. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident continues to be under investigation.