By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — The fate of Stanley Bedford now lays in the hands of a dozen Albuquerque residents.
Jurors began deliberations about 2 p.m. Tuesday following closing arguments of Bedford’s capital murder trial in District Court.
Bedford, 43, of Portales is charged with kidnapping and killing Odis and Doris Newman of Portales in March 2005.
Judge Stephen Quinn instructed the jury before closing arguments that if they couldn’t agree on first-degree murder, which means Bedford intended to kill the Newmans, then second-degree murder should be considered. Second-degree murder does not include the possibility of a death sentence.
During closing arguments, District Attorney Matt Chandler said based on the facts, jurors could reasonably conclude robbing and killing the Newmans was not a one-man job, and Bedford — a three-time felon who knew evidence had to be destroyed — helped alleged co-conspirator Jerry Fuller do it.
Fuller admitted to being the only person to pour gasoline on the Newmans’ car and light it on fire, but Chandler said Bedford had the idea to burn them and helped distract an Allsup’s clerk while Fuller filled up the murder weapon — plastic gas cans.
“Once they started their partnership,” Chandler said, “they’re guilty all the way through.”
Fuller pleaded guilty earlier this year to kidnapping and killing the Newmans — his aunt and uncle — and is serving a 127-year sentence. The state was seeking the death penalty.
Chandler warned the jury defense attorney Gary Mitchell would discredit the state’s case by attacking Fuller, who testified against Bedford in the trial. Fuller was honest, Chandler said, cooperated with police before a plea was offered, and is the best material witness.
“Who are witnesses to double murders? I can assure you they don’t happen at church picnics,” Chandler said. “Crimes that are formulated in the pits of hell don’t have angels as witnesses.”
Mitchell did attack Fuller’s credibility during his closing argument, noting that many key details of his story never came up until he testified in District Court. Fuller, Mitchell said, had “depths of depravity” that couldn’t be measured as the man who chose to rob and kill his uncle and aunt.
“This is the witness the state says to you, ‘Rely upon him, give this man full credibility, and give (Bedford) zero credibility,’” Mitchell said.
Mitchell continued that Fuller was the only person who could place Bedford at the Newman home, because DNA and fingerprint evidence never identified Bedford there.
“What evidence is there that Stanley Bedford was ever there? None,” Mitchell said. “How many times does the state have to explain why there is no evidence before we have a reasonable doubt?”
Mitchell said if jurors were in there trying to solve the case themselves or they had doubt in the back of their minds, it was their duty to acquit.
Chandler argued with his presentation that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, and that Fuller’s DNA and prints never showed up either.
“It’s pretty hard to bring (evidence) to you when it’s in ashes,” Chandler said.
Chandler opened his argument by describing the Newmans as a couple married for more than half a century in Portales, a small town that takes four to five minutes to drive through and whose population could fit into the University of New Mexico’s basketball arena with 5,000 seats empty.
He spoke of the events in March 2005 that left the Newmans dead.
“When they said, ‘Til death do us part,’ they never realized it would come at the hands of Stanley Bedford and Jerry Fuller.”
Bedford and Fuller robbed the Newmans, then put them in a car trunk and set it on fire outside of town because they saw the Newmans as merely evidence to be destroyed, Chandler said.
Both lawyers told jurors to not check their common sense at the door, and use it in deliberations.
District Attorney Matt Chandler
What kind of deal does (Jerry Fuller) get? He dies in the Department of Corrections. He’s in here to bring the truth. What’s wrong with that?
— on Fuller testifying
She’s 100 pounds soaking wet. Have you realized who the alpha wolf is yet?
— on Bedford allegedly threatening Cynthia Peninger in 2005
If (Fuller’s) making this up, he could have added a lot more.
We know who took the stand and said that he had a problem with spelling.
— on Bedford, who is accused of writing “duck tape” on a note planning the crimes
He burned bridges. He burned a car. He burned a house. He burned the Newmans. Don’t fall for it. Don’t let him burn you.
Defense Attorney Gary Mitchell
You can’t come in here with zero evidence and say just because he’s sitting next to Gary Mitchell he’s guilty.
(Bedford) has a real fear of death. A lot of us do. When you get to my age, you go to more funerals than weddings.
Do we simply ignore (Bedford’s relatives) because they’re defense witnesses? Have we gotten to the point where we don’t believe defense witnesses?
It is a whole lot better to doubt, then decide, than to decide, then doubt.
I applaud the Dixons. It’s hard to cross-examine the family members of victims, but they were fair.
— Compiled by Kevin Wilson
The law presumes the defendant to be innocent unless and until you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of his guilt. It is not required that the State prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is a doubt based upon reason and common sense — the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate to act in the graver and more important affairs of life.
Each crime charged in the indictment should be considered separately.
First-degree murder (2): The state must prove to your satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements of the crime:
1. The defendant killed (Odis/Doris) Newman
2. The killing was with the deliberate intention to take away the life of (Odis/Doris) Newman or any other human being.
3. This happened in New Mexico on or about the 3rd day of March, 2005.
The word deliberate means arrived at or determined upon as a result of careful thought and the weighing of the consideration for and against the proposed cause of action. A mere unconsidered and rash impulse, even though it includes an intent to kill, is not a deliberate intention to kill.
Second-degree murder (2): If, after reasonable deliberation, you do not agree that the defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree, you should move to a discussion of murder in the second degree. The state must prove:
1. The defendant killed (Odis/Doris Newman)
2. The defendant knew that his acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to (Odis/Doris) Newman.
3. This happened in New Mexico on or about the 3 rd day of March, 2005.
Kidnapping (2): The state must prove:
1. The defendant took, restrained or transported (Odis/Doris) Newman by force, intimidation or deception.
2. The defendant intended to hold (Odis/Doris) Newman against (Odis/Doris) Newman’s will to inflict death or physical injury on (Odis/Doris) Newman or for the purpose of making the victim do something or for the purpose of keeping the victim from doing something.
4. This happened in New Mexico on or about the 2nd day of March, 2005.
If you find the defendant guilty of kidnapping, then you must determine whether the defendant voluntarily freed (Odis/Doris) Newman in a safe place and whether the defendant inflicted great bodily harm on (Odis/Doris) Newman.
Tampering with evidence (2): The state must prove:
1. The defendant destroyed, changed, hid, fabricated or placed evidence (Newman automobile/Newman home).
2. The defendant intended to prevent the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of Stanley Bedford.
5. This happened in New Mexico on or about the 3rd day of March, 2005.
Disposal of stolen property: The state must prove:
1. The six rings had been stolen
2. The defendant disposed of this property
3. At the time he disposed of this property the defendant knew or believed that it had been stolen
4. The property had a market value of over $2,500
6. This happened in New Mexico on or about the 7th day of March, 2005.
Aggravated burglary: The state must prove:
1. The defendant entered a dwelling without authorization
2. The defendant entered the dwelling to commit a theft once inside
3. The defendant touched or applied force to Odis and/or Doris Newman in a rude or angry manner while entering or leaving, or while inside
7. This happened in New Mexico on or about the 2nd day of March, 2005.
The defendant may be found guilty of a crime even though he himself did not do the acts constituting the crime if the state proves:
1. The defendant intended that the crime be committed
2. The crime was committed
3. The defendant helped, encouraged or caused the crime to be committed.
You are the sole judges of the facts in this case. Your verdict should not be based on speculation, guess or conjecture. Neither sympathy nor prejudice should influence your verdict.
You alone are the judges to the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given to the testimony of each of them.
You should consider each expert opinion and the reasons stated for the opinion, giving them as much weight as you think they deserve. You may reject an opinion entirely if you conclude that it is unsound.
You must not concern yourself with the consequences of your verdict.
Your verdict must be unanimous. It is your duty to consult with one another and try to reach an agreement. However, you are not required to give up your individual judgment. Do not surrender your honest conviction as to the weight or effect of evidence solely because of the opinion of your fellow jurors, or for the purpose of reaching a verdict.