By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
A 43-year-old Portales man will face the death penalty in connection with the 2005 deaths of an elderly Portales couple.
An Albuquerque jury found Stanley Bedford guilty Thursday on eight charges, including first-degree murder and kidnapping.
Jurors will return June 21 to decide whether Bedford should be executed for the slayings of Odis and Doris Newman.
If Bedford does not receive the death penalty, he will serve two life sentences, plus 60 years for the remaining crimes. District Attorney Matt Chandler said the sentences would run consecutively, and Bedford would not be eligible for a parole hearing for 108 years.
After the verdicts were announced, he was handcuffed and led from the courtroom.
“This is a day of justice for the Newman family and the people of Roosevelt County,” Chandler said. “Our residents from Albuquerque delivered the justice we have all hoped for the last two years.”
The trial was moved to Albuquerque because of extensive publicity in Roosevelt County.
Whatever sentence Bedford gets, the Newmans’ daughter, Vickie Dixon, said she is “very happy” with what has transpired in the courtroom.
“My favorite song is ‘Victory in Jesus,’” Dixon said. “We have turned this over to Jesus and we have victory through him. We appreciate the DA’s office and everyone who helped. We appreciate the judge and the jury.”
Dixon said the decision on the death penalty would be left in the Lord’s hands.
Defense attorney Gary Mitchell, visibly upset as the verdict was read, said the Supreme Court needs to intervene on this and other death penalty cases.
“It’s scary a jury can have this much evidence he was innocent and still convict him,” Mitchell said. “It’s scary that nobody has stopped it at this stage.”
Mitchell called the process racist. He said Jerry Fuller, a white man, will not see the death penalty after killing his aunt and uncle while Bedford, a black man, faces the death penalty.
Chandler said Fuller and Bedford were offered identical deals.
“Jerry Fuller accepted the offer and took responsibility and Stanley Bedford did not, and now his fate is in the hands of a jury.”
Fuller pleaded guilty in October to first-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, assault on a police officer and aggravated burglary. He was sentenced to 127 years in prison.
Prosecutors argued Bedford helped Fuller rob the Newmans on March 3, 2005, then decided to burn them in the car. Bedford testified he didn’t know the Newmans and only came into the affair because Fuller needed a ride when he ran out of gas.
Fuller testified against Bedford.
Bedford was arrested March 7, 2005, in Clovis after he and two roommates tried to pawn jewelry belonging to Doris Newman.