SALT LAKE CITY — A man who has spent decades on death row for the kidnapping, torture and murder of a Southern Utah student is asking the state’s top court to halt his execution.
According to the news report by Ben Winslow of FOX 13, in a hearing before the Utah Supreme Court on Wednesday, attorneys for Michael Anthony Archuleta argued that he is intellectually disabled. Archuleta is facing execution for the 1988 torture killing of Gordon Church.
But the Utah Supreme Court justices focused on when these claims of an intellectual disabilities were first raised and if it were too late to even broach the subject.”If he is intellectually disabled he may not be executed,” Archuleta’s attorney, Charlotte Merrill, said.
“Any inmate could say, ‘I have an intellectual disability.’ Should then, if that were to happen in Utah, should we exercise our power to disregard any bars to hear that claim?” Justice Paige Petersen asked.
Justice Thomas Lee questioned if the Eighth Amendment on cruel and unusual punishment overrides procedural and time barring issues.
“The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t yet decided the question you’re asking us to decide, right?” Lee said. “I think that would be a pretty big step for that court to take.”
Archuleta and Lance Conway Wood, who were both out on parole at the time, were convicted of the crimes. Wood was sentenced to life in prison; Archuleta was sentenced to death.
Archuleta, now 55, was sentenced to die for the gruesome murder of Church, who was at the time a Southern Utah State College student. Church, 28, was shocked with a car battery, raped with a tire iron and his body dumped in Millard County. Some have suggested the killing was a hate crime because Church had revealed to them he was gay.
The Utah Department of Corrections has previously told FOX 13 it does not have the chemicals necessary to carry out a lethal injection execution, so firing squad becomes the default method.
Read the full story here: Fox13Now.com.
Written by BEN WINSLOW, Fox13Now.com
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