Judge: State can pursue death penalty on Bedford

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

A district court judge ruled Monday the state could pursue the death penalty — at least for now — in the case of a man accused of kidnapping and killing an elderly Portales couple almost two years ago.

Prior to Monday’s probable cause hearing, attorneys worked out an agreement that allowed them to avoid testimony in the hearing. The defense conceded the state could meet the burden of proof required for a death penalty against Stanley Bedford if it proves allegations against him.

Bedford, 43, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of receiving stolen property in connection with the March 2005 deaths of Odis and Doris Newman of Portales. Judge Stephen Quinn affirmed the agreement with the attorneys and said the case would proceed as a death-penalty case.

However, defense attorney Gary Mitchell of Ruidoso informed the court he would be filing another motion Monday to dismiss the death penalty. The motion would attack the death penalty in a broad scope, he said. Mitchell also said he would challenge it on the basis that Bedford’s co-defendant in the case, Jerry Fuller, recently received a life sentence following a plea agreement.

Fuller, 34, was sentenced last month to a 127 years in prison.

A May 7 court date was scheduled to argue the next death-penalty motion.

There was also an off-the-record discussion Monday between Quinn and attorneys on the logistics of taking the case on the road after a change of venue for the trial was ordered late last year.

While Quinn checked on details of the venue change, the attorneys in the case adjourned to an office where they worked out a jury questionnaire.

The trial is scheduled for an Albuquerque courtroom beginning May 21.

Six weeks has been blocked off to hear the case.