By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — Though it will continue in the state department of corrections, life goes on for Stanley Bedford.
As it will for everybody affected by the conviction of Bedford, 43, for his role in the deaths of Doris and Odis Newman of Portales. Most parties hope some type of lesson has been learned.
The lesson Vickie Dixon wanted to teach was one of forgiveness. Moments after jurors spared the death penalty for Bedford, the daughter of the Newmans told Bedford she forgave him just as she forgave co-defendant Jerry Fuller, and presented him with a Bible.
“I want him to be able to take this book and learn the forgiveness that I have learned from the Bible,” Dixon said outside of District Court in Albuquerque. “The Bible says that we are to forgive. If we don’t forgive, our family will not receive the blessings he intends for us to have, and I want our family to be blessed.”
With those blessings, she believes she and her parents will be reunited someday in heaven.
“They are in a better place and I would never ask for them to come back to this world, ever,” Dixon said. “They’re in a whole lot better place than we are.”
District Attorney Matt Chandler didn’t want to look back on the jury’s decision, but forward to returning home with justice served. Unless Bedford reaches age 150 for a parole hearing on his 120-year sentence, he’ll die in prison. Chandler considers that justice.
“In New Mexico, the most difficult decision a jury will have to make is whether a person dies naturally in prison or allow them to die by the death penalty,” Chandler said. “We’re not going to tread too much into their deliberation, but we do thank (the jury) for their service and we thank Albuquerque for their services to us.”
Defense attorney Gary Mitchell said the death penalty only creates more victims, and said the jury recognized that with their decision.
“Time and time again, they come back with (a life sentence verdict),” said Mitchell, who has fought death penalty cases for 30 years.
“That should tell our Legislature, and particularly our governor, that it’s time they stop this nonsense of hurting all of these people and going through these traumatic events, which are traumatic for everybody involved in that courtroom. It’s time to end it.”
For his client, it means another day.
“To Stanley, when you talk about the death penalty, he thinks he’s going to be executed tomorrow,” Mitchell said. “He’s a simple man and he doesn’t understand the lengthy process this can sometimes take. We begin work on an exoneration, because we were astounded at the verdict on guilt and innocence.”
Mitchell maintains Bedford is innocent, and will work on the appeal that is automatically sent to the state Supreme Court. He said this case was nearly as difficult as the one that resulted in the 2001 execution of Terry Clark.
“Today,” Mitchell said, “it was a relief to know you’re not going to be executed so that you can at least, someday, have a chance to find something, somewhere along the line to convince people he didn’t do this.”