Michael Anthony Archuleta
On October 25, 1988, Lance Conway Wood, newly released from the Utah State Prison, moved into the Cedar City two-bedroom apartment of his girlfriend, B. Stapely, and her roommate, P. Jones. Soon after, Michael Anthony Archuleta, also just released from prison, moved into the same apartment to be with his girlfriend, P. Jones. Wood and Archuleta had known each other in prison.
On November 21, 1988, Wood and Archuleta purchased soft drinks at a local convenience store. After adding whiskey to their drinks, the two men engaged in a conversation with Gordon Church, who was seated in his car in a nearby parking lot. Church drove Wood and Archuleta up and down Main Street and then up Cedar Canyon. After returning to Cedar City, Church left Wood and Archuleta at their apartment complex. Wood and Archuleta walked to the apartment of Anthony Sich, who lived above the apartment rented to Stapely and Jones. Wood told Sich that he was going into the mountains and asked if he could borrow a pair of gloves. Sich sent Wood to retrieve the gloves from his car, and while Wood was outside, Church returned and invited him and Archuleta to go for another drive.
Church drove Wood and Archuleta back to Cedar Canyon and pulled off the road. Wood and Archuleta exited the car first and began to walk down a path. Archuleta told Wood that he wanted to rob Church, and Wood acquiesced. Church overtook the two men, and the three continued walking up the trail. As the men started back down the trail toward the car, Archuleta grabbed Church and put a knife to his neck. Although Wood attempted to stop Archuleta by grabbing his arm, Archuleta made a surface cut on Church’s neck. Church broke free and ran, but Archuleta chased after and tackled him, again putting the knife to his neck and threatening to kill him. Archuleta cut Church’s throat again so that the two cuts formed an “X” on the front ofChurch’s neck.
Archuleta bent Church forward over the hood of the car and, with the knife still at Church’s throat, had anal intercourse with him. At Church’s request, Archuleta used a condom. Archuleta then turned to Wood, who was standing by the trunk of the car, and asked if he “wanted any.” Wood declined. Archuleta went to the trunk of the car and opened it. He told Wood that he was looking for something with which he could bind Church. Wood removed a spare tire and a fan from the trunk, while Archuleta retrieved tire chains and battery cables. Wood remained at the rear of the car, while Archuleta returned to the front, where he wrapped the tire chains around Church. Archuleta also fastened the battery cable clamps to Church’s genitals. Wood maintained before and at trial that he removed the clamps from Church as soon as he realized what Archuleta had done.
Archuleta led Church to the rear of the car and forced him into the trunk. Wood and Archuleta replaced the spare tire and fan and drove to a truck stop near Cedar City where they purchased gas. They continued north on Interstate 15 until they reached the Dog Valley exit. They parked along a deserted dirt road where Archuleta told Wood, “You know we have to kill him.”
Archuleta removed Church from the trunk and attempted to kill him by breaking his neck. When that failed, Church suffered several blows to the head with a tire iron and a jack. The tire iron was then shoved and kicked so far into Church’s rectum that it pierced his liver. A state medical examiner testified that Church was killed by injuries to the head and skull due to a blunt force and internal injuries caused by the tire iron inserted into Church’s rectum.
Wood told police that he waited inside the car while Archuleta killed Church. Evidence adduced at trial, however, showed that Wood’s pants and jacket were splattered with blood in a cast-off pattern indicating that during the beating, Wood was within two or three feet of Church, and that Wood was facing Church when the blows were struck. A blood spot appeared on the back of Archuleta’s jacket, and Wood’s shoes bore a transfer or contact blood stain caused by contact with a bloody object. Investigators found strands of human hair consistent with Church’s hair wrapped around Wood’s shoelaces. The injuries to Church’s lower jaw were consistent with being kicked by someone wearing Wood’s shoes. Three paired lesions on Church’s back were caused by a dull-tipped instrument such as some red-handled side cutters found in the pocket of Wood’s jeans.
After Church died, Wood and Archuleta dragged his body to some nearby trees, where they covered it with branches. They swept their path with branches on the way back to the car to conceal any footprints. With Wood at the wheel, the pair again drove north on I-15. They abandoned Church’s car in Salt Lake City.
Wood called his friend C. Worsfold and asked if he and Archuleta could come to her apartment for a few minutes. When the men arrived at the apartment, Worsfold immediately noticed that Archuleta’s pants were caked with blood. Wood explained that they had been rabbit hunting the night before, their car had broken down, and they had hitchhiked to Salt Lake. The two men then went to a thrift store, where Archuleta bought some clean pants and repeated the rabbit hunting story to the store clerk.
Archuleta discarded his bloody jeans in a drainage ditch near the 45th South on-ramp to I-15 in Salt Lake County. He and Wood then went into a nearby Denny’s restaurant, where Wood left the gloves he had borrowed from Sich. After eating, the two hitchhiked as far as the Draper exit, where Archuleta pulled out Church’s wallet, scattered its contents, and handed the wallet to Wood. They next hitchhiked to Salem, where they visited Archuleta’s father. From there, they hitchhiked to Cedar City, arriving at about 11:30 p.m.
Wood immediately went upstairs to Sich’s apartment and told him about the murder. When Sich advised him to contact the police, Wood responded, “Maybe I could get some kind of federal protection.” Sich and Wood walked to a local convenience store, where Wood called B. Stapely, who was in Phoenix, and told her that Archuleta had killed someone. Stapely contacted John Graff, Wood’s parole officer, and told him to call Wood at the store. Graff called Wood and arranged to meet him at the convenience store. Just before Graff’s arrival with the police, Wood discarded Church’s wallet.
Wood and Sich accompanied Graff and a police officer to the corrections department office, where Wood recounted the events of the previous night.
The police arrested Archuleta for the murder and, after several interviews with Wood, also charged Wood with murder in the first degree, aggravated sexual assault, object rape, forcible sexual abuse, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and possession of a stolen vehicle.
feb,22, 2012, source :
A death row inmate is asking a Utah judge for a stay of an April 5 execution by firing squad while he pursues a review of his state conviction and sentence in the federal courts.
Attorneys for Michael Anthony Archuleta filed a notice of his intention to file a habeas corpus petition on Feb. 10 in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court. Such requests consider whether a person’s conviction and sentence are constitutional.
Court papers say Archuleta, 49, is entitled to a stay while federal courts review the case.
Archuleta has not previously appealed his 1989 capital conviction in the federal system. Five state court appeals have been rejected, however — the last in November.A state judge signed a death warrant on Feb. 8 for Archuleta’s execution. A federal judge has not yet set a date for a hearing. The case had been filed under seal until last week.Assistant Attorney General Tom Brunker on Tuesday told The Associated Press the state does not oppose a stay of Archuleta’s execution.
Court papers filed to date by Archuleta’s attorneys do not indicate what arguments they will mount in asking the federal court to consider the case.
feb 9 2012, source :
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – A judge has signed the execution warrant for Utah man on death row. Michael Archuleta was convicted for the brutal torture and murder of a homosexual man in 1989.
Archuleta was convicted and sentenced to death in 1989.
On Wednesday, Fourth Circuit Judge Donald Eyre ruled that Archuleta’s appeals to the U.S. and Utah supreme courts had been denied and that no state action prevented Archuleta’s execution.
The judge set Archuleta’s execution for April 5, 2012.
Archuleta had the option of choosing the manner of his execution. and picked a firing squad.
Court documents show that Archuleta and an accomplice kidnapped 28-year-old Gordon Ray Church, a Southern Utah University theater student who had confessed to being gay in 1988.
Court documents show that Archuleta and his accomplice put Church in a car trunk and drove to a remote Millard County area, where they attached jumper cables to Church’s testicles and shocked him with a car battery before raping him with a tire iron, beating him and burying him in a shallow grave.
Archuleta’s accomplice was given life sentence for his role in the murder.
news video :
Supreme court of Utah