Bedford trial — week in review

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson New Mexico State Police investigator Kevin Massis shows jurors possible scenarios of the attack on Odis Newman at District Court in Albuquerque.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

ALBUQUERQUE — One witness has told jurors Stanley Bedford helped him plan and complete the burglary and murders of Odis and Doris Newman, while a former roommate said she overhead Bedford discussing his role in their home.

No physical or DNA evidence placing Bedford at the home or in any vehicle of Odis and Doris Newman’s was presented during the prosecution’s case.

Are the witnesses testimonies enough for jurors to convict, or the lack of physical evidence enough for reasonable doubt? Jurors have a chance to answer that question this week on Bedford.

The 43-year-old faces two charges each of murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence and one charge of receiving stolen property in connection with the deaths of the Newmans. He may face the death penalty if convicted.

The prosecution rested its case Friday and the defense plans to be finished with its case Monday. Closing arguments are planned for Tuesday.

The bodies of Odis and Doris Newman were found March 3, 2005, inside the trunk of their burned 1997 Lincoln Town Car on a dirt road in Roosevelt County. Bedford was arrested three days later after he and two others were reported trying to pawn Doris Newman’s jewelry at a Clovis pawn shop.

Jerry Fuller pleaded guilty to his role in the Newman deaths last year. He is currently serving a 127-year sentence for the charges, and also testified against Bedford. He said Bedford helped him plan the burglary, and it was his idea to set the Newmans’ vehicles and home on fire.

Cynthia Peninger, who was detained at the pawn shop with Bedford, said she overheard Bedford talk of a scuffle with an old man she believed to be Odis Newman. She told jurors Bedford threatened to harm her family if she didn’t keep quiet.

Defense attorney Gary Mitchell based questioning of Fuller and Peninger around a theory they created prosecutor-friendly stories after they were secured deals by the district attorney’s office — Peninger avoided jail, for instance, while Fuller avoided the death penalty. For that reason, Mitchell said the prosecution’s case was flimsy and he rendered a motion to dismiss Friday after jurors had left the courtroom.

“They rely on Jerry Fuller,” Mitchell said, with no physical evidence or expert witness testimony to back his story up.
Prosecutors have said Fuller was cooperative with investigators and mentioned Bedford’s role before he was promised a plea agreement.

“I know the defense doesn’t want to believe Mr. Fuller,” prosecutor Michael Cox said, “but the problem is Mr. Fuller did testify under oath.”

No DNA or fingerprints from Bedford were found at the Newman home, witnesses testified. Those witnesses also testified evidence could have been destroyed when the Newman home was set on fire, and they found little DNA evidence from the Newmans in their own home, and none of Bedford in his home.

Judge Stephen Quinn denied the motion to dismiss.