Judge Hears Arguments in Archuleta Death Sentence

Judge Hears Arguments in Archuleta Death Sentence

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FILLMORE, Utah (AP) -- Attorneys for death-row inmate Michael Anthony Archuleta claim he had deficient legal representation in his trial for the 1988 torture-slaying of a Southern Utah University student and his sentence should be overturned.

Fourth District Judge Donald J. Eyre heard arguments Monday and said he would try to return an opinion within 60 days, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Archuleta's lawyers said mitigating circumstances were never properly investigated or presented to the jury. Evidence on the defendant's drug and alcohol addictions, a life history of abuse and neglect, learning disabilities and other psychological problems all could have lessened the severity of his sentence, they said.

Jurors also should have heard about Archuleta's altruistic behavior and participation in charitable and volunteer programs, they argued.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Thomas Brunker said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a prosecutor is not required to investigate every possible circumstance that could mitigate a person's participation in a crime.

Archuleta, 42, and Lance Conway Wood were convicted of torturing, raping and beating to death Gordan Ray Church, a gay SUU theater student. Wood was sentenced to life in prison.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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