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Death Row inmate’s defense team takes their case to the Utah Supreme Court again

MATHESON COURTHOUSE – Attorneys for a man who has been on death row for decades make one more attempt to have his execution order overturned.

Michael Archuleta had been scheduled to be executed in 2012, but, that was stayed while his defense team filed an appeal in federal court.  Before the federal court would hear the defense, they instructed attorneys to have the arguments heard at the Utah Supreme Court first.

According to Michael Archuleta’s current attorney, Charlotte Merrill, his previous attorney made several large mistakes.  Merrill says, “His counsel was conflicted, underqualified and underfunded and missed serious red flags that he was intellectually disabled.”  She adds that Archuleta’s family has a history of intellectual disability, and his IQ scores are low. “Many of those are in the scores are in the sub-average range,” she says.

Prosecutors say the arguments that will be presented to the federal court by the defense are essentially the same that were presented and shot down at the state level.  Prosecutor Andrew Peterson says, “We’ve always maintained that he has never presented any good evidence, at all, that he’s intellectually disabled.  But, the second point is he withheld this for many years, more than a decade.”

Peterson believes today’s appearance before the Utah Supreme Court was nothing more than an attempt to delay the execution.  “Certainly this didn’t have a purpose to get relief from the death sentence,” he says.

(Photo Credit: Utah Department of Corrections)