By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — Prosecutors spent Friday walking Jerry Fuller through inconsistencies in his statements made over more than two years about his and Stanley Bedford’s involvement in the deaths of an elderly Portales couple.
Jurors heard two witnesses in Albuquerque’s District Court Friday, but nearly all of the second day of the capital murder trial was dedicated to Fuller, currently serving a 127-year sentence for charges related to the deaths of Odis and Doris Newman, Fuller’s aunt and uncle.
Under his plea agreement, Fuller is to testify against others charged in connection with the Newmans’ deaths. Prosecutors allege Bedford, 43, of Portales, aided Fuller in the robbery of the Newmans and helped set a car fire with the Roosevelt County couple in the trunk.
Bedford may face the death penalty if convicted.
District Attorney Matt Chandler spent the first 20 minutes of the day finishing his questioning of Fuller he started Thursday and the last hour in a redirect, but most of Fuller’s time on the stand was spent answering the questions of defense attorney Gary Mitchell.
Throughout the cross-examination, Mitchell intimated that many details implicating Bedford had never been revealed by Fuller until Thursday’s testimony. When some details were repeated from police statements, Mitchell pointed out other incidents where he said Fuller contradicted himself on those details.
Mitchell accused Fuller of creating a prosecution-friendly story now because under the plea agreement, the state can pursue the death penalty if his testimony conflicts with evidence in any trial.
“The people you need to please are the prosecution, because they hold your life in their hands,” Mitchell told Fuller, who responded, “I hold my life in my hands.”
Mitchell replied, “Only because you’re doing something they wished for you to do.”
Mitchell said previous statements by Fuller included information he had Odis and Doris Newman in the trunk of the victims’ 1997 Lincoln Town Car while he went to ATMs to try to withdraw money from bank cards belonging to the couple.
Mitchell asked Fuller about Odis Newman’s blue 1997 Ford F-150 truck. The truck, Mitchell said, had internal damage and Odis Newman’s blood inside. Also, Mitchell said duct tape, glass and drops of Odis Newman’s blood were found northwest of their home in rural Roosevelt County.
Fuller left the Newmans with Bedford at the house while he went to the ATM, according to Thursday’s testimony, If that was the case, Mitchell said there’s no explanation for what happened to the truck, which had a kicked-out window, a pipe indentation in the ceiling, and Odis Newman’s blood. Mitchell said according to Fuller’s testimony, the Newmans were in the exact place he had left them with Bedford.
Later, when Fuller said he drove the Town Car with the victims in the trunk, he checked on them at least twice. The second time, Fuller said, he noticed they weren’t moving. Mitchell told Fuller that he continued to drive around for hours and never took the Newmans to a friend’s house or the hospital because, Mitchell said, “You knew they were dead already.”
Mitchell asked Fuller to elaborate on the early morning trip to Allsup’s. The prosecution contends it was Bedford’s idea to buy gasoline to burn the car and destroy evidence, and he went into the store to distract the clerk while Fuller filled two gas cans and the black Dodge Neon Bedford was driving.
While there, the prosecution alleges Bedford bought two energy drinks and cotton gloves. Fuller said he went inside while Bedford was talking to the clerk.
Mitchell asked if one of the energy drinks was purchased for Fuller — an empty drink can was found by the car, officials contend. Fuller said he didn’t need an energy drink because he shoplifted a Sprite while inside.
Mitchell wasn’t convinced.
“You didn’t want attention brought to yourself,” Mitchell said, “and you go shoplift a Sprite?”
In his redirection, Chandler said in numerous statements given before and after a plea agreement, Fuller’s story had the same elements.
In all of the elements, Chandler said, Bedford had involvement and helped plan the car fire.
The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.
Highlights from the second day of the prosecution questioning Jerry Fuller:
Fuller spoke of when he was shot by police on the morning of March 8, 2005. In Thursday’s final minutes, he said he aimed a pellet gun at three Clovis Police SWAT team members in a suicidal attempt to draw officer fire. He said he was shot three times.
Fuller continued the account Friday.
“I remember being on the ground,” Fuller said. “I remember (an officer) telling me to stop fighting. I told him, ‘I’m not fighting. I can’t breathe.’” He said he lost consciousness when he was put into an ambulance.
District Attorney Matt Chandler asked Fuller if he knew what a snitch was. Fuller responded it was somebody who tells on somebody else, particularly to law enforcement. He said snitches face assault and other atrocities in prison, and he would be considered a snitch.
“There’s a TV camera right there,” Fuller said. “Everyone in prison will know about this by the time I get back.”
Fuller said he is testifying anyway to do right for the family he’s caused so much grief.
Fuller said he was the only one who poured gasoline on the Lincoln Town Car with Odis and Doris Newman in the trunk. Chandler read a statement Fuller previously gave that Bedford waited for him and was telling him to “hurry the (expletive) up.”
Evidence introduced: Side pictures of burned car, pictures of Fuller’s bedroom and a picture of shoes Fuller said he didn’t recall.
Friday’s other witness
Relationship to case: New Mexico State Police investigator. Duties included securing bank records of the Newmans, cell phone records for Fuller and security camera videos.
Testimony: Argo broke down cell phone calls Fuller made that day. Calls included drug dealers and work and cell numbers for his girlfriend, in addition to his number (called to check voicemail). He said through examination of a pair of security cameras, there was reasonable evidence to believe defendant Stanley Bedford bought two energy drinks and a pair of white cotton gloves at an Allsup’s in Portales the morning the Newmans were killed.
Cross-examination: Argo said he did not use video enhancement software on the convenience store video. Two other people went into the store while Bedford was inside, but he could not positively identify Fuller. He was surprised the store sold so many different types of gloves. The brand he believes Bedford bought were 99 cents, but most gloves available were no more than $5.
Evidence introduced: Phone records for Fuller, cotton gloves purchased by Argo at a Roswell Allsup’s location similar to the gloves he believed Bedford bought.