Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Michael Archuleta Deathrow inmate courtesy Utah Department of Corrections
Death-row inmate appeals conviction for killing Cedar City student
Crime » He and another man tortured and killed a southern Utah college student in 1988.
First Published Dec 08 2012 11:27 am • Last Updated Apr 08 2013 11:32 pm

Michael Anthony Archuleta is taking the long fight to overturn his capital murder conviction, which condemns him to death, to federal court.

He’s appealed five times in state court, all of them rejected. With those district court options exhausted, Archuleta turns now to a federal appeal, filing an 182-page petition Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Utah to overturn the conviction on Constitutional grounds.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Archuleta’s attorneys argue 16 reasons in the petition why their client’s death penalty is unconstitutional, including a deficient defense and that cumulative errors in the trial prevented him from having a fair day in court. The petition also claims that he may meet Utah criteria for mental retardation, which would exempt him from execution.

They also argue that Archuleta’s execution would be cruel and unusual punishment after he’s already spent about 23 years on death row.

Archuleta, 50, has been on Utah’s death row since his December 1989 conviction. On Nov. 21, 1988, then-parolees Archuleta and Lance Conway Wood drove Gordon Ray Church — a 28-year-old Southern Utah State College theater student — to a remote location in Millard County. They attached jumper cables to Church’s testicles, used the car battery to shock him, raped him with a tire iron, beat him with a car jack and buried him in a shallow grave.

In separate trials, Archuleta and Wood each were convicted of capital murder. Wood was sentenced to life in prison. Archuleta was sentenced to death.

Utah abandoned the firing squad in 2004 as a method of execution, but allowed some inmates to be grandfathered in. Archuleta, however, chose lethal injection in his original sentencing.

A Utah judge signed an execution warrant for Archuleta in February after his fifth appeal in state court had been rejected. But prosecutors at the time said they doubted the execution would go forward as scheduled because Archuleta had never filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court.

As expected, his scheduled April 5 execution date was canceled, with no objection from the prosecution, while the condemned killer pursued his federal court appeal.


story continues below
story continues below

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.