Death penalty phase of Bedford trial set to begin

CNJ staff

An Albuquerque jury will reconvene today to begin the penalty phase for Stanley Bedford, convicted last week of killing Odis and Doris Newman of Portales.

The jury on June 14 handed down a guilty verdict for eight charges against Bedford, including two counts each of first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the March 3, 2005, deaths of the Newmans.

A unanimous vote from the jury would make Bedford New Mexico’s third death row inmate, while any other vote would default Bedford’s punishment to the 120-year prison sentence given by Judge Stephen Quinn.

The Newmans’ bodies were found that morning inside the trunk of their burned 1997 Lincoln Town Car outside of Portales.

For the jury to consider the death penalty, it must rule an aggravating factor existed in the crime — in this case, whether the Newmans were killed during the commission of a kidnapping.

If the jury finds an aggravating circumstance, the defense will be allowed to enter mitigating evidence. The state may respond with victim impact statements and specific rebuttals to the mitigating evidence.

Defense attorney Gary Mitchell and District Attorney Matt Chandler said the process should take about a week.