By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — The state called Stanley Bedford a plotting killer who even scares people who know him. His defense attorney calls him a guy who gave an acquaintance a ride and got tagged with murder charges when the responsible party wanted to avoid the death penalty.
Opening arguments began Thursday in the case of Bedford, 43, of Portales. He is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, in addition to other lesser charges in connection with the March 2005 deaths of Odis and Doris Newman of
If convicted, Bedford may face the death penalty.
In the state’s opening remarks, Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer said Bedford planned a robbery with Jerry Fuller, who was overdrawn on his bank account and was facing eviction if he didn’t come up with rent money.
During a robbery of the Newmans, Fuller’s aunt and uncle, Bedford struck Odis Newman with a pipe, Mowrer said while holding the pipe in front of the jurors like a baseball bat.
But “things got way out of hand way fast,” Mowrer said, and Bedford decided the Newmans had to be killed because they had seen his face and could identify him.
While Bedford kept the Newmans tied with duct tape in their home, Mowrer said, Fuller was sent out with ATM cards belonging to the Newmans. There was “no honor among thieves,” Mowrer said, as Fuller didn’t tell Bedford about money he found in Odis Newman’s wallet and Bedford didn’t tell Fuller about jewelry he found in Doris Newman’s purse.
Later on, Mowrer said, the two planned to put the Newmans in the trunk of Doris Newman’s 1997 Lincoln Town Car. The two went to a convenience store, where Fuller filled two 2.5-gallon gasoline cans.
One can was used to light and burn the Town Car with the Newmans in the trunk, Mowrer said. The second was later used in an unsuccessful attempt to burn down the Newman’s home.
Mowrer said the jury would hear about how Bedford bragged to friends about hitting Odis Newman with a pipe. One witness, Mowrer said, will tell the jury Bedford threatened to harm her if she ever said anything, and she’s still scared of him two years later.
Defense attorney Gary Mitchell did not dispute a robbery attempt or the car fire — just the prosecution’s assertion of Bedford’s involvement. He told jurors it was a great day for him and Bedford.
“We get to tell you about Stanley,” Mitchell said. “We get to tell you about the facts … and how innocent he is — to people who have an open mind, to people without a secret agenda, to people who have promised to listen.”
Bedford, Mitchell said, was a simple man who gave Fuller a ride to the country for $100 and became so alarmed at the car fire that he wanted nothing to do with Fuller.
Bedford was arrested for possession of stolen property in March 2005 after police said he tried to sell Doris Newman’s jewelry at a Clovis pawn shop. Mitchell said Bedford had Doris Newman’s rings, but found them in his roommate’s car after he gave Fuller a ride.
“It wasn’t the right thing to do, but that’s what he did,” Mitchell said. “He gave a man a ride for $100. He found some jewelry and took it to a pawn shop.
Bedford, Mitchell said, is a victim of investigators becoming “advocates of a particular theory” and not doing a proper investigation on Fuller, his cell phone records or numerous contradicting statements he gave police.
“It boils down to one person — a man named Jerry Fuller,” Mitchell said.
Fuller is currently serving a 127-year sentence through a plea and testimony agreement.
At a glance
Relationship to case: Daughter of Odis and Doris Newman.
Testimony: Dixon said Odis and Doris Newman were “very loving parents” who followed routines.
Odis liked to spend summers at Conchas Lake fishing and would stay up later than Doris to watch television and eat ice cream and pork rinds. On Thursdays, Odis would help set up chairs at the Portales Senior Center while Doris baked a coconut creme pie for the weekly potluck, and the two would stay at the center and play dominoes and cards.
The two usually carried plenty of cash — two Wells-Fargo credit cards introduced into evidence, Dixon said, still had the activation instruction stickers.
Defense cross-examination: Dixon testified Odis’ 1997 Ford F-150 truck was normally kept in the garage but was sometimes outside because the diesel truck “smoked up the garage.”
The two were always at home after dark, and Dixon said she didn’t even think it was possible they’d be outside of the house after dark.
Evidence introduced: Photos of the Newman home (interior and exterior), jewelry belonging to Doris Newman, Odis Newman’s wallet and glasses, credit and debit cards belonging to the Newmans. Notes containing the Newmans’ phone number.
Relationship to case: Lived in trailer home owned by and located to the Newmans. Now lives in Eunice.
Testimony: On the night of March 2, she saw the dome light of the Newmans’ truck on when she arrived home about 9 p.m. from a nursing class at Clovis Community College.
At 5 a.m., she was woken up by the sound of a truck peeling out next door. She didn’t look out her window, but said the sound of a diesel engine was distinct.
Cross-examination: The house she lived in was located on a rural area with few homes, and she’d hear most cars coming by. She didn’t remember any unusual vehicles, and said she’d never seen Stanley Bedford near the Newman home or anywhere else.
Relationship to case: Lives on Roosevelt Road N 1/2, where the burned car containing the Newmans was found.
Testimony: Fields was heading to his job at a Portales air-conditioning business a few minutes before 8 a.m. He called 911 when he saw a burned car. He said the car appeared to be smoldering.
Cross-examination: He arrived home the previous night between 11 p.m. and midnight and saw nothing unusual. He did not walk all the way around the car.
Evidence introduced: A large map of Roosevelt County to point out where he lived, a photo of the road and photos of the car.
Relationship to case: Battalion chief for Portales Fire Department. Responded to burned car with rookie partner Dathan Culpepper.
Testimony: When he and his partner arrived, no threatening flames were visible and the car roof wasn’t too hot to touch.
The car was indicated as burned through, or a “total loss,” and the two noted a foul odor and a smoldering trunk. “It gave me a bad feeling … not knowing what is was,” he said. Flames were visible through a melted tail light, and the lock was melted to the point hand tools could open it. He noticed bones, then used sand to stop the flames from spreading and closed the trunk to preserve potential evidence.
Evidence introduced: Side photo of car, pictures of car trunk with human remains inside.
Relationship to case: Works with Office of the Medical Investigator.
Testimony: When he arrived, he was briefed by the state police and told of a home fire that was possibly connected. He found a nameplate on a belt buckle that said, “Odis.” The nameplate and bones placed in two body bags were sent to Albuquerque for examination.