Suspects to be tried separately in Newman case

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Ninth Judicial District Judge Joe Parker entered a plea of not guilty and assigned a public defender to one of the two men accused of killing an elderly Portales couple.

Jerry Fuller, 32, of Portales was arraigned Monday in front of Parker on two counts of capital murder in connection with the deaths of Odis and Doris Newman.

Stanley Bedford, 41, of Portales was also scheduled to be arraigned Monday on two counts of capital murder, but waived his right to arraignment. Bedford plans to plead not guilty, according to his attorney.

Punishment for capital murder includes the death penalty.

District Attorney Matt Chandler said he has not decided if he will seek the death penalty or life in prison if the defendants are found guilty.

Chandler said Bedford and Fuller will be tried separately.

Fuller, the victims’ nephew by marriage, and Bedford, are scheduled for pre-trial hearings July 1, according to Chandler.

The Newmans’ remains were found March 3 in the trunk of a car on a county road just southeast of Portales. According to police, the Newmans were kidnapped from their house, forced into the trunk of their car, which was later set on fire.

Appearing in court Monday in handcuffs, ankle restraints and a bullet-proof vest, Fuller also was arraigned on three counts of assault on a police officer, two counts of kidnapping and one count of tampering with evidence.

Bedford is also facing two counts of kidnapping, two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of possession of stolen property.

Fuller and Bedford are being held without bond at the Roosevelt County Detention Center.

Bedford’s attorney, Gary Mitchell of Ruidoso, said his client will be sending a letter to the district attorney’s office entering a plea of not guilty.

Mitchell said with all the publicity surrounding the case there is a possibility he could seek a change of venue.

“It’s something we’re looking at,” Mitchell said.

Chandler said he would fight changing the site of a trial.

“We (district attorney’s office) will be ready to fight a change of venue,” Chandler said. “We feel we can proceed with the trial in Roosevelt County. If a change of venue is granted, it will be to the next closest district court in Curry County.”