Jury selection on schedule in death penalty case

PNT Staff Report

Jury selection is still on schedule in the death penalty case of a Portales man accused of killing an elderly Portales couple.

Stanley Bedford, 43, of Portales is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and evidence tampering, and one count of possession of stolen property.

So far, District Attorney Matt Chandler said 150 potential jurors have been questioned individually. Of those, 42 have been placed on a panel.

By estimates from Chandler and Gary Mitchell of Ruidoso, who is defending Bedford, about 50 more will be questioned in efforts to make a 60-person panel.

From those jurors, each side will have the opportunity to challenge specific jurors. Mitchell will have 24 challenges while the state will receive 16.

Twelve jurors and as many as four alternates are needed.

The trial was moved to Albuquerque after Chandler and defense attorney Gary Mitchell of Ruidoso agreed on the difficulty of finding an impartial jury in Roosevelt County.

Chandler said he expects opening arguments and the introduction of evidence to start Tuesday, after the court takes a break for the Memorial Day weekend.

Portales judge Stephen Quinn is presiding over the trial.

The bodies of Odis Newman, 70, and his wife, Doris Newman, 69, were found March 3, 2005. According to court documents, the Newmans were alive when they were put into the trunk before the car was set on fire.

Jerry Fuller of Portales, a co-defendant in the case, pleaded guilty Jan. 17 and was sentenced to 127 years in prison.

Attempts to contact Mitchell Thursday were unsuccessful.