CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Defense attorney Gary Mitchell, center, discusses the use of a pipe as a weapon with state police crime scene investigator Kevin Massis, left, and defense attorney Daniel Salazar during the trial of Stanley Bedford.
By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
ALBUQUERQUE — A state police investigator spent Tuesday mapping out the night Odis and Doris Newman were killed in 2005.
Kevin Massis, who has spent the last six of his 11 1/2 years with the New Mexico State Police in Hobbs as a crime scene investigator, testified at Albuquerque’s District Court in the death penalty case of Stanley Bedford.
Bedford is charged with two counts of murder and aggravated kidnapping in connection with the Newmans’ deaths.
Massis spoke mostly on bloodwork and his analysis of places around Portales and Clovis in the investigation of the deaths. Cross-examination of Massis resumes today.
Massis mapped out eight crime scenes for jurors:
1. Roosevelt Road N 1/2: This is where the Newmans’ 1997 Lincoln Town Car was found burned with the couple inside the trunk. Massis left the explanation of the car fire to other witnesses, and spoke of the area surrounding the car. Away from the car in a field, Massis said, investigators found an energy drink can and a metal pipe. The pipe was found with blood on it, but no fingerprints could be taken from either it or the can.
2. A fire at the Newmans’ home: Massis said he was still investigating the car when reports of the house fire came in and delegated oversight of that scene to another investigator scheduled to testify today.
3. Curry County Road Z and N.M. 267: Authorities responded to reports of suspicious items on the road that included glass, duct tape and drops of blood. Massis said the scene was investigated to be on the safe side.
4. An alley north of Ninth Street between Avenues A and B in Portales. Odis Newman’s truck was found abandoned with blood stains and other damage. Upon discovery of the truck, Massis said the third scene was ruled to be connected to the truck.
5. The Portales Law Enforcement Center, where Odis Newman’s truck was taken for analysis.
6. Bedford’s residence on South Main Street. At the residence, Massis said investigators found a plastic gas can and seized shoes they believed belonged to Bedford.
7. Fuller’s residence on Roosevelt Road U. Investigators seized a shirt without blood, credit cards and a wallet belonging to Odis Newman and shoes.
8. A black Dodge Neon, taken by the Clovis Police Department following the arrests of Bedford and roommates Archie Crawford and Cynthia Peninger, the registered owner of the car. The three were arrested at a Clovis pawn shop for possession of stolen property. Massis said the car smelled like gasoline, and a cigarette box containing two of Doris Newman’s rings was found in the back seat.
Following examination of blood on the inside and outside of the truck, Massis said he believed a victim had a wound with a lot of blood as the result of a blunt force to the head. The pipe was believed to have been used, Massis said, based on damage to the truck – an indentation in the ceiling, a broken passenger window and two interior break points to the windshield.
Defense attorney Gary Mitchell began his cross-examination in the final hour and set up two chairs to represent the driver and passenger seats of the truck. While wearing latex gloves, Mitchell demonstrated with the setup that damage was most likely caused by a passenger hitting a driver from his right side.
Mitchell postulated the victim, agreed on as Odis Newman, may have tried to escape out of the driver’s side, but was caught by his attacker after he got outside of the truck. Mitchell asked if it was also possible the victim, after being outside long enough to leave blood on the truck’s exterior, was forced back into the truck by his attacker.
Massis didn’t say that scenario was most likely, but agreed it could have happened as Mitchell demonstrated.
Highlights from Tuesday’s testimony in the Stanley Bedford capital murder trial:
Relationship to case: Employed with State Fire Marshal’s Office. Has responded to more than 200 fires suspicious in nature. Designated as expert witness on fires.
Testimony: In continuation of his Monday testimony, Anderson explained the 1997 Lincoln Town Car belonging to Odis and Doris Newman was burned in an intentional fire. Tests ruled out all possible other causes (e.g., electric malfunction). Regarding the remains of Odis and Doris Newman in the trunk, he said the two were “the most consumed bodies by fire I’ve ever dealt with.” The fire started in the passenger compartment with gasoline used as an accelerant. The fire continued to the trunk, where a spare tire provided fuel there.
The office did a test on a 1997 Town Car donated by an insurance company under similar circumstances. The test indicated one gallon of gasoline was enough to produce a similar result. If a gas can or anything else made of plastic was left in the car, Anderson said, the fire would have vaporized it.
Cross-examination: Given the time of the fire from reported lighting to discovery (roughly four hours), Anderson said two gas cans could have burned easily. All of the windows were rolled up, but the open driver’s-side door provided enough oxygen to keep the fire going. The experimental car was not burned during the night like the Newmans’ vehicle, but the flames were clearly visible in daylight hours for more than 50 yards.