CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Defense attorney Gary Mitchell addresses jurors during opening arguments Thursday in Albuquerque. Mitchell’s client, Stanley Bedford, is accused of killing a Portales couple.
By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
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 Portales.
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.