Deputy: Newman fire arson

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson New Mexico State Police Sgt. Shane Arthur holds a blood-stained throw rug during Wednesday’s session of the Stanley Bedford trial in Albuquerque. Arthur said the rug was found in the laundry room of the Newmans, and the blood is from Odis Newman.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

ALBUQUERQUE — The normally pristine home of Odis and Doris Newman of Portales was marked by the blood of Odis Newman and the remnants of an intentional fire, investigators testified Wednesday.

Among the charges Stanley Bedford, 43, of Portales faces in his capital murder case is setting a fire at the Newmans’ home at 2120 Roosevelt Road 4 Lane.

The Newmans were found dead on a county road inside the trunk of their burned car in March 2005.

Gilbert Archuleta, a retired deputy with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, testified the fire at the Newman home smoldered for some time, in the range of two to six hours.

“This was not a fast fire,” Archuleta said, “and it didn’t consume all of the combustible material (in the home).”

Archuleta said the fire was arson and most likely started by someone pouring gasoline from the front entrance of the home to the dining room, where firefighters and crime scene investigators discovered a melted gas can with some liquid remaining.

State Police Sgt. Shane Arthur testified investigators found numerous samples of Odis Newman’s blood, with nearly all of the samples in the laundry room of the home. Drops of his blood were also found on a county road about five miles from the home.

Arthur said he didn’t have enough information to rule Odis Newman was attacked inside his home, but said blood patterns from such an attack would have been covered by blood-stained rugs found in the laundry room.

“Somebody with a bleeding injury … lays down or is laying down with contact to (the laundry room) tile,” Arthur said during cross-examination. “There is not a gross quantity of blood.”

Other items discussed by Arthur included:

A beige sweatshirt, size XXL. The sweatshirt, Arthur said, had no blood stains

A defect in the front door of the home. Arthur said it’s likely the door was damaged by a rounded object. Prosecutors pointed to the pipe believed to be used as a weapon against Odis Newman.

Toothbrushes and hairbrushes Arthur took from the home for the purpose of DNA samples

A shotgun shell, a used paper towel and a soda can on the road alongside the home. Arthur made no connection with these items, but said they were collected during investigation just in case.

Bedford could face the death penalty if convicted.

Others testifying Wednesday in the capital murder trial of Stanley Bedford:

Kevin Massis
Relationship to case: Oversaw all crime scenes relating to the case. Designated as expert on blood work and crime scene investigation.

Cross-examination: In continuation of cross-examination from Tuesday, Massis was asked what body part of Odis Newman’s could have left the blood found in his truck. Massis said due to the burning of his body, it was impossible to determine specific wounds. A gas can was found near Odis Newman’s truck when it was found abandoned in a Portales alley, but determined by vegetation growing around it that it was there well before the truck arrived.

Redirect: With the aid of prosecutor Michael Cox, who is the same height as Odis Newman (5 feet, 11 inches), he showed jurors how he believed Newman was attacked. He said the attacker was most likely outside of the truck because the interior of the truck didn’t provide much room to swing a weapon. It was in contrast to a scene Mitchell set up for jurors Tuesday detailing a person in the passenger seat hitting the driver with a weapon.

He agreed Mitchell’s scenario was possible Tuesday, but said Wednesday it was not consistent with damage inside the truck and the lack of damage to the steering wheel or dashboard.

He said all findings agree with Jerry Fuller’s admission of burning a 1997 Lincoln Town Car with the Newmans locked in the trunk.

A pipe and energy drink can were found at the scene. The pipe was 43 feet away, while the can was 17 feet away.

He had no way to determine if the items were thrown or dropped at the scene, but the pipe was heavier and would travel farther if both were thrown (like a baseball traveling farther than a whiffleball thrown with similar effort).

Samuel Strain
Relationship to case: The current New Mexico State University student attended Eastern New Mexico in 2005 and shared a bedroom with Bedford at 712 S. Main.

Testimony: Strain moved into the residence in January 2005. Bedford was a daily visitor and moved into the house in February.
He said he was “absolutely confident” shoes taken into evidence had been worn by Bedford.

On March 2, he was in class until 2 p.m. and went to the library before his 3 to 9 p.m. shift at the campus cafeteria. He got home at about 9:15 p.m., and never saw Bedford when he was there to change clothes. He stayed at a friend’s place playing video games and drinking until about 4 a.m., and didn’t see Bedford at home.

When he left for classes at 7:50 the next morning, Bedford was on the couch.

Cross-examination: A Dodge Neon belonging to roommate Cynthia Peninger was driven by pretty much everybody in the house, but Bedford’s main transportation was a bicycle.

He didn’t know how the rent was divided among other people, but “my $200 was in there every month.”

Mitchell asked if the house had plenty of visitors, and if parties went on there. He responded, “You mean parties like I go to at State?” After laughter died down in the courtroom, Mitchell said he had brothers who attended NMSU and he understood. They agreed upon the term “get-togethers.”

The shoes taken into evidence were a brand known as Buffalo Boots, which are commonly sold in urban clothing stores (e.g. Journeys at North Plains Mall in Clovis).

Evidence introduced: Boots

Noreen Purcell
Relationship to case: Supervisor at the New Mexico Department of Public Safety’s Northern Forensic Crime Lab in Albuquerque. Designated as expert in DNA analysis.

Testimony: The lab works with more than 100 law enforcement agencies in the state.

Testing for DNA has improved exponentially over the years, and to get a good sample, “you need about 150 cells, and that’s not a whole lot.”

Toothbrushes taken from the Newman home were tested for DNA. One toothbrush was ruled to be Doris Newman’s, based on the chances of between 1 in 22 quadrillion and 1 in 120 quintillion it was DNA from somebody else.

A partial profile came from the other toothbrush, with chances between 1 in 6,000 and 1 in 40,000 it was DNA from somebody other than Odis Newman. Since the toothbrush was found in the Newman home, the prosecution and defense agreed it was a certainty the sample was of Odis Newman.

Cross-examination: Prosecution is still interviewing Purcell.

Evidence introduced: Purcell’s resume.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Kevin Wilson