Inmate slated to die by firing squad asks Utah Supreme Court to halt execution

Stock image, St. George News

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.

Michael Anthony Archuleta | Bookings photo courtesy of Utah Department of Corrections, St. George News

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.

Gordon Ray Church | Image courtesy of Cedar High School, St. George News

“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:

Written by BEN WINSLOW,

Copyright 2018, KSTU. A Tribune broadcasting station

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  • utahdiablo January 13, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Gary Gilmore you ain’t….pos

  • PlanetU January 13, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Cruel and unusual punishment for this POS? Boo-hoo. Bring it on firing squad…….

  • Rob83 January 14, 2018 at 6:43 am

    I don’t understand why this guy has gotten to live so long already. Boo-hoo to this waste, take him out already..

  • DRT January 14, 2018 at 7:14 am

    He did the crime. His mental status neither then, nor now makes not one whit of difference to his victim. He’s still, and always will be dead. And he died in a horrific way.
    Shoot this gang-banger if for no other reason than to protect everybody else.

  • dodgers January 14, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Time for justice. Get it done.

  • ladybugavenger January 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    I’m on the fence. I’m on the fence only because I put myself in the position of tne onr firing the shots to kill him. Could I do it? No. But there are plenty of people that don’t have,the personal convictions i have.

    If you could, would y’all fire the shots to kill him?

    • DRT January 15, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      In a heartbeat! I made up my mind over 50 years ago, that I would have no compunction in taking the life of someone who was threatening my life, or the life of another person. He not only threatened the life, he took the life.
      Anybody who has ever been in the military, or law enforcement, (or both,) has to make this decision for themselves, and hopefully well in advance of the need to do it.

  • PlanetU January 14, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    No problem firing the shots. I don’t see him as a human being, just pure evil.

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