"Did you shoot Roy Lee Stanley?"
"No.""Did you shoot Andy Begay?"
Vinton Bedoni, one of three Navajo men accused of killing Stanley and Begay the night of Dec. 4-5, 1987, took the witness stand in his own defense Tuesday and denied he was even at a bonfire where the men were supposedly shot.
He also denied being at Copper Canyon, near Lake Powell, where the officers were burned to death in their trucks.
Also accused of the slayingsare Ben Atene Jr. and Thomas Cly.
Under questioning by his lawyer, Robert VanSciver, Bedoni said that on that Friday, Dec. 4, he spent the day at the sheep camp of his grandmother, who is 102 years old, helping to chop wood, haul water and care for the sheep.
That night he was supposed to attend a healing ceremony called a Blessing Way for his half brother, Albert Atene. Before that, though, he jogged and hitchhiked to Monument Valley High School for a basketball game, Bedoni testified.
The opposing team was late, so "I just decided (to) go down the
Hat and have a couple cans," Bedoni said. The "Hat" is the Top of the Hat Bar in Mexican Hat.
He testified that he caught a ride from a couple of Arizona Navajos in a pickup who asked him, "Down to the Hat?"
Bedoni said, "That's where everybody goes to get their beer, get drunk."
He said he bought a case of beer for the men in the car, using their money, and caught a ride back to the game. They gave him three cans and he went back to the game at about the fourth quarter, he said.
He denied seeing witness Boyd Atene, who had said Bedoni had invited him to a party that night.
When he got home that night to his parents' house, he saw Marques Atene and Ben Atene Jr. "inside the house, sleeping, snoring." Marques Atene was freed Friday when Assistant U.S. Attorney Stewart Walz admitted the government did not have enough evidence to convict him.
When Bedoni awoke before dawn Saturday, he said, he participated in the corn-pollen ceremony the next morning before sunrise, he said. He said he and his stepfather Ben Atene (father of the defendant, Ben Atene Jr.) drove the medicine man home. Not until Saturday night did he hear that two officers had been killed, he said.
He was cross-examined by Assistant U.S. Attonney David Schwendiman, who pointed out that a man who worked in the bar had testified he sold Bedoni three cases of beer, not one. Three cases would correspond better with the prosecution's version that Bedoni organized a party, which was discovered by the officers.
According to that version, Bedoni shot Stanley when he tried to break up the illegal beer party and Begay was shot when he arrived shortly afterward.