Defense attorney Gary Mitchell, left, talks with Stanley Bedford as the jury is excused Monday afternoon at District Court in Albuquerque. Closing arguments are today.
ALBUQUERQUE — Stanley Bedford told jurors he’s no murderer Monday.
Bedford, 43, testified in his capital murder trial that he hates the thought of dead people so much he can’t even attend family funerals, and he certainly wouldn’t have let Jerry Fuller set a car on fire if he knew people were inside the trunk.
“If I’d have known the Newmans were in that car,” Bedford said. “I’d have never been around that car.”
Prosecutors allege Bedford helped Jerry Fuller rob Doris and Odis Newman on March 3, 2005, and was the one who decided to burn them in the car. Bedford and his defense have said he never knew the Newmans or where they lived, and only came into the affair when Fuller needed a ride because his car ran out of gas.
Bedford is charged with two counts each of murder, kidnapping, and tampering with evidence and one charge of possession of stolen property. He may face the death penalty if convicted.
Bedford was the last of four witnesses in the defense’s case, which started Monday morning. He kept most answers short, and had a tough time when he told jurors about the car fire that killed the Newmans.
After the fire, Bedford said Fuller asked for a ride to a house in the country, and he got lost trying to get back home. When he returned, Fuller was at his house wanting another ride. He wanted nothing to do with Fuller. Bedford’s roommate, Archie Crawford, gave Fuller the ride instead.
Bedford was arrested March 7, 2005, in Clovis after he and two roommates were trying to pawn jewelry belonging to Doris Newman. He told the jury he found the jewelry in the Dodge Neon after he gave Fuller a ride, but told people he found it while “dumpster diving” to distance himself from Fuller.
On cross-examination, prosecutor Michael Cox said Bedford’s story was full of inconsistencies. He outlined several calls to and from his house to Fuller’s cell phone in the hours following the car fire. Bedford had previously said he didn’t know Fuller that well.
“A lot of phone calls back and forth between Jerry Fuller’s cell phone and your house,” Cox said, “but you didn’t know Jerry Fuller?”
Cox also asked about statements Bedford gave to police, and contradictions that arose. Bedford said the first time he was interviewed by police was after he was arrested in Clovis, and he lied because he feared serious charges if he associated himself with Fuller.
As part of his plea bargain, Fuller agreed to testify against Bedford. Fuller was sentenced to 127 years in prison earlier this year for kidnapping and killing his aunt and uncle.
Closing arguments are today.
The following people also testified Monday in the capital murder trial of Stanley Bedford:
Relationship to case: Nephew of Stanley Bedford
Testimony: During March 2005, Albert lived with his father Scott, who is Bedford’s brother, on the 700 block of S. Abilene St. His uncle lived a block away on South Main and visited most nights.
On the evening of March 2, he said his uncle was visiting them from about 8 to at least 9:30 p.m., when Albert went to bed. Later that night, he was woken up when Jerry Fuller came over late and used the bathroom. While Fuller was in the bathroom, Albert said he heard Fuller talking on a phone but couldn’t make out the conversation.
He said his uncle always rode a bicycle around and “I think he owned one car in his life.”
He first heard about the car fire March 4, 2005, from one of his teachers at Portales Junior High. He remembered the time frame well because he was sent to the hospital for a soccer injury March 1. he also recalled.
Cross-examination: Confused on whether he was a seventh-grader or eighth-grader at the time. Based on his testimony that he was about to be a sophomore at Portales High School, District Attorney Matt Chandler said he would have been in seventh grade. The hospital records for his soccer injury showed his address on University Drive, not on South Abilene. Albert also said another reason said he remembered the night of March 2 was because there was a fight across the street at a park, with cops at the scene.
Redirect: His father filled out the information at the hospital, and he didn’t know why the wrong address was listed.
Evidence introduced: Hospital records.
Relationship to case: Brother of Bedford
Testimony: Jerry Fuller was a friend, but not a best friend.
Fuller would visit off and on, often acting angry and apologizing a few days later.
Fuller came to his residence in the early morning hours of March 3 needing a ride. Albert refused, but he called Bedford.
Albert had gas cans out in the open, but didn’t see anybody take them that night.
When asked if Stanley drove, Albert laughed and talked about a time Bedford drove the Dodge Neon. “It was a stick shift,” Albert said.
“He kept jerking and jerking.”
Cross-examination: Police may have come to the fight while he went inside for a few minutes here or there. He was told he gave a statement to an officer about Fuller using him as an alibi, and that Fuller never visited him. Albert said that was in reference to an alibi for drug use.
Redirect: He said he didn’t do well in school — he got to senior year of high school, but in special education. He never received any written documents from investigators on his statements. He said he was consistent in telling investigators when Bedford was at the house. When Fuller needed a ride, he called Bedford because Fuller didn’t have the number.
Relationship to case: Private investigator. Former police captain in Ruidoso, and also worked in Roswell and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
Testimony: He went back home to Farmington over the weekend and visited Sears and Wal-Mart, two stores that are also in the
Clovis-Portales area. He photographed 10 pairs of shoes that were similar to shoes prosecutors say belonged to Bedford and made a print near the car fire.
In his opinion as an investigator, the gas can found near Odis Newman’s abandoned blue truck, and a cap of Newman’s inside the truck, should have been taken into evidence, or at least not ignored.
Cross-examination: Upon questioning from Chandler, Pfeffer agreed it was speculative to take photos of shoes from two years later, and to do such research without coming to Clovis or Portales. Chandler went through several of the photographs and had Pfeffer testify on individual differences between the shoes he photographed and the shoes in evidence.
Evidence introduced: Photographs of shoes.
Relationship to case: Deputy chief of Portales Police Department. Brought in by prosecution to refute specific defense testimony.
Testimony: No fight was reported to police in the area of Albert’s house within a two-day period of March 2.
Cross-examination: Three units patrol from 8-10 p.m., the time of the fight described in testimony, and six units patrol from 10 p.m. to midnight.
Redirect: Any time an officer leaves the vehicle, rules require radio communication for safety purposes. Any officer responding to such an event would be reflected in radio logs.
— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Kevin Wilson