OGDEN -- A judge has approved funding to check out a bloodied mystery car in Las Vegas that the defense hopes points to a murder suspect other than Robert McCullar.
A jury found McCullar, 51, guilty in July 2011 of fatally stabbing Filiberto Robles Bedolla, 49, on Dec. 22, 2009, in Bedolla's apartment at 2560 Adams Ave. McCullar is serving 15 years to life in Utah State Prison.
As part of the arguments the last few months attending a motion for a new trial, the defense has been asking for a small check to take a blood sample from a car in Las Vegas. The vehicle was owned by an associate of the victim, cleared by police early on in the 2009 investigation.
After 2nd District Judge W. Brent West denied the new trial motion two months ago, defense attorney Randy Richards continued to press the Vegas car question.
West heard arguments on it July 30 and this week granted the request, ordering Weber County to cut Richards a check for $500.
"We'd asked for a little more," Richards said Thursday, "but within $500, we'll know if we have anything."
The next step is to have an investigator contact the car's Las Vegas owner and see if it's possible to pull a blood sample from the car, he said.
The car was located by checking vehicle identification numbers, and the owner has not yet been contacted, said Richards, who has been waiting on court authorization.
If a sample is attainable, Richards said, approaching the court for funds for DNA analysis is possible.
The prosecution's depiction of the killing, accepted by the jury, begins with a confrontation when Bedolla took McCullar's cigarette after McCullar left it burning on a newspaper rack at a convenience store.
He had planned a quick stop, then to resume smoking the cigarette, a common practice in the area, according to testimony.
But Bedolla got it first, and a brief argument ensued, with Bedolla using a racial slur and spitting on McCullar.
McCullar then followed Bedolla stealthily for an hour or more and stabbed him 14 times inside his nearby apartment, according to the prosecution's depiction.
The key evidence against McCullar was his taped confession to his then-girlfriend, Donna Major, who was wearing a wire for police.
McCullar's trial attorney, Jim Retallick, and now Richards say the defense theory of the murder is just as plausible as the prosecution's and that McCullar's confession was just bravado to impress a woman.
Bedolla's body was found on his bed with a pornographic DVD playing at the foot of it, as though Bedolla had been expecting a visit from a prostitute.
McCullar said he slashed Bedolla with a piece of glass. However, medical testimony said the wounds were not jagged but made with a knife.
The owner of the Las Vegas car now in focus was a woman named Dawna Finch, or Big Dawna, as opposed to Little Donna, or Donna Major, as they were known in Ogden's inner-city drug culture, according to testimony during the trial.
Both were known prostitutes, and Finch once robbed a man for drug money by putting a knife to his throat a few months before Bedolla was killed, according to testimony.
Prosecutors have argued against funding for the car, claiming it wasn't newly discovered evidence, because it was known to the defense during the 2009 trial and was either ignored or overlooked.