State v. Archuleta, No. 900041

CourtSupreme Court of Utah
Writing for the CourtHALL; HOWE; STEWART
Citation850 P.2d 1232
PartiesSTATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Michael Anthony ARCHULETA, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 900041
Decision Date25 March 1993

Page 1232

850 P.2d 1232
STATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
Michael Anthony ARCHULETA, Defendant and Appellant.
No. 900041.
Supreme Court of Utah.
March 25, 1993.
Rehearing Denied May 13, 1993.

Page 1235

R. Paul Van Dam, Atty. Gen., Charlene Barlow, Asst. Atty. Gen., Salt Lake City, for plaintiff and appellee.

Michael D. Esplin, Provo, for defendant and appellant.

HALL, Chief Justice:

Defendant Michael Anthony Archuleta appeals his conviction for first degree murder 1 and the sentence of death imposed on the conviction. 2 Defendant and co-defendant Lance Conway Wood were charged with the murder of Gordon Ray Church, which took place during the early morning hours of November 22, 1988. The two defendants were tried separately.

A jury convicted defendant of first degree murder, finding beyond a reasonable doubt that four aggravating circumstances existed to support the conviction. 3 Following a penalty hearing, the jury returned a verdict of death on the first degree murder conviction. At formal sentencing, the trial court imposed the death sentence. Defendant raises numerous issues on appeal. After consideration of these issues and review of the entire record, we affirm.

Page 1236

I. FACTS

On November 21, 1988, defendant was living in an apartment in Cedar City, Utah, with co-defendant Wood and their girlfriends, Paula Jones and Brenda Stapley. Defendant, who was on parole at the time, had returned to Cedar City from Arizona, where he was living pursuant to his parole agreement. He left Arizona without permission from his parole officer in Utah County, precipitating issuance of a parole warrant for his arrest.

While in Cedar City, defendant contacted his parole officer, who gave him permission to stay there for one week to look for a job. However, a parole officer from Cedar City discovered that defendant was living with Wood, also a parolee, and was therefore again in violation of parole guidelines. The two parole officers spoke, and the Cedar City officer decided to execute a "parole hold" for defendant. 4 On November 22, 1988, Cedar City authorities went to the apartment where defendant was living, but failed to locate him.

On the evening of November 21, defendant and Wood went to the 7-Eleven store in Cedar City, where they first met Church. The three men decided to "cruise" the town's main street in Church's car. While thus engaged, they met two young women whom they stopped and spoke with for a short time. The women both testified at defendant's trial, placing defendant and Wood with Church before the murder.

Later in the evening, the three men drove to a secluded area in nearby Cedar Canyon. Church informed defendant that he was a homosexual. It is unclear exactly what happened next. Either Church or defendant offered to engage in anal sex. Defendant placed a condom on his penis and began to have anal sex with Church. Defendant then changed his mind and stopped. Shortly thereafter, Wood began to attack Church. He chased Church and tackled him to the ground, breaking Church's arm in the process. Wood pulled out a knife and cut Church across the throat, producing a superficial wound in the shape of an "x."

Defendant and Wood bound Church with tire chains and a bungee cord. They placed him in the trunk of the car, drove through Cedar City, and headed north on Interstate 15 toward Salt Lake City. After driving approximately 76 miles with Church in the trunk of the car, defendant and Wood pulled off the highway in a secluded area known as "Dog Valley." After removing Church from the trunk, they attached battery cables to Church's testicles and to the car battery. They beat Church severely on the head with a tire jack and tire iron. Then they inserted the tire iron into Church's rectum, forcing it eighteen inches into his body and puncturing his liver. 5

When Church was apparently dead, defendant and Wood dragged his body up a hillside and attempted to cover the body with tree branches and dirt. The two men drove Church's car to Salt Lake City in the early morning hours of November 22 and abandoned it there. While in Salt Lake City, they visited several people. Defendant had a good deal of blood on his pants, and he and Wood told the people they met that they had been hunting and skinning rabbits. The two men hitchhiked back to Cedar City that same day.

Page 1237

That evening, Wood contacted authorities and informed them of his and defendant's participation in the murder. After Wood's confession, defendant was arrested at the Cedar City apartment on the parole hold.

After his arrest, defendant gave four separate statements about the murder to law enforcement officers. The trial court denied his motion to suppress the statements, finding that they were voluntarily and knowingly given pursuant to defendant's valid waiver of his Miranda 6 rights and his privilege against self-incrimination.

Defendant raises numerous claims on appeal. The most significant are that the trial court committed reversible error by (1) refusing to grant defendant's motion to suppress statements he made to police; (2) wrongfully dismissing a prospective juror for cause; (3) denying defendant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of sodomy; (4) refusing to grant defendant's motion for mistrial based on the admission of certain testimony at trial; and (5) incorrectly instructing the jury concerning one of the aggravating circumstances under Utah Code Ann. § 75-5-202. Defendant also raises a question regarding the proportionality of the death sentence. We deal with each issue in turn.

II. USE OF DEFENDANT'S STATEMENTS AT TRIAL

Defendant objects to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress statements he made to police on two grounds. The first is that his arrest on the 72-hour parole hold was an illegal pretext arrest used solely to elicit damaging statements from him in violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The second is that his statements were not made pursuant to a knowing and voluntary waiver of his right to counsel and his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

When reviewing a trial court's decision to admit a confession, we must determine if, based upon the totality of the circumstances, using the confession was proper. 7 The trial court's factual determination will be overturned only if it is clearly erroneous; the court's legal conclusions based upon those factual findings are reviewed under a correction of error standard. 8

A. Pretext Arrest

We first consider whether defendant's arrest on the parole hold was an unconstitutional pretext arrest. Defendant claims that he was arrested for the sole purpose of gathering evidence against him on the murder charge, not for the purpose of accomplishing a valid arrest on the parole hold. Defendant cites to evidence in the record showing that the arresting officers intended to question him about the murder while he was in custody on the parole hold. This, he argues, constitutes an improper motive on the part of the police and renders his subsequent statements tainted.

The trial court denied defendant's motion to suppress, finding that the police had a legitimate reason to detain defendant on the parole hold. Further, the trial court found that the fact that the officers were aware that defendant was a suspect in Church's murder at the time he was arrested did not make it an improper pretext arrest. We agree with the trial court's reasoning.

An arrest may not be used solely as a pretext to search for evidence of another

Page 1238

crime. 9 However, if police have a valid right to arrest an individual for one crime, it does not matter if their subjective intent is in reality to collect information concerning another crime. 10 "Whether a Fourth Amendment violation has occurred 'turns on an objective assessment of the officer's actions in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him [or her] at the time,' and not on the officer's actual state of mind at the time the challenged action was taken." 11 If the police action would have been taken against an individual "even absent the 'underlying intent or motivation,' there is no conduct which ought to have been deterred and thus no reason to bring the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule into play for purposes of deterrence." 12 In other words, if the alleged pretext arrest could have taken place absent police suspicion of the defendant's involvement in another crime, then the arrest is lawful.

Here, defendant's parole officer initially told defendant that he could remain in Cedar City and look for employment. However, the officer subsequently discovered that defendant was living with Wood, another parolee, in violation of parole guidelines. After discussing defendant's situation with another parole officer, the two officers decided to detain defendant on a 72-hour parole hold.

Thus, the officers did have a valid, independent reason to detain defendant separate from the murder investigation. In fact, police officers actually went to the apartment in Cedar City to arrest defendant on the parole hold on the afternoon of November 22, after the murder had taken place but before they knew anything about the crime. Although the officers were unable to locate defendant at that time (he was with Wood, hitchhiking back to Cedar City after disposing of Church's car in Salt Lake City), they would have arrested him if he had been found. 13

Based on defendant's living situation and his unauthorized return to Cedar City, the arrest on the 72-hour parole hold was proper. The arrest was not rendered invalid solely because the officers had a separate motive for arresting him, especially where defendant would have been arrested even if the murder had not taken place. Hence, we affirm the ruling of the trial court on this issue.

B. Knowing and Intelligent Waiver

Defendant claims that the...

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49 practice notes
  • State v. Brown, No. 61320-6
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 24, 1997
    ...(Tenn.Code Ann. § 39-13-204 (1994)), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1215, 114 S.Ct. 1339, 127 L.Ed.2d 687 (1994); Utah, State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1247-48 (Utah) (Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-3-207, 76-5-202 (1994), as interpreted by State v. Pierre, 572 P.2d 1338, 1347-48 (Utah 1977)), cert. denie......
  • State v. Calliham, No. 20000169.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • August 16, 2002
    ...We review a trial court's determination whether to remove a juror for cause for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1240 (Utah 1993). Under this standard, we will not reverse the trial court's ruling unless we find that the ruling was beyond reason. See id. In our......
  • State v. Mauchley, No. 20010551.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • April 1, 2003
    ...the perpetrator. Talbot, 665 P.2d at 1276. Nor does it require corroboration of any other element of the crime. See State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1241-42 (Utah 1993); State v. Cazier, 521 P.2d 554, 555 (Utah 1974). ¶ 17 For example, in a homicide case, the State must produce evidence t......
  • State v. Fauci, (SC 17402) (Conn. 4/10/2007), (SC 17402)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • April 10, 2007
    ...826, 830 (Tex. Crim. App. 1988) (using terms "prosecutorial misconduct" and "prosecutorial error" interchangeably); State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1242 (Utah 1993) (referring to prosecutor's inadvertent but improper presentation of testimony as "prosecutorial error"); In re Personal Res......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
49 cases
  • State v. Brown, No. 61320-6
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 24, 1997
    ...(Tenn.Code Ann. § 39-13-204 (1994)), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1215, 114 S.Ct. 1339, 127 L.Ed.2d 687 (1994); Utah, State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1247-48 (Utah) (Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-3-207, 76-5-202 (1994), as interpreted by State v. Pierre, 572 P.2d 1338, 1347-48 (Utah 1977)), cert. denie......
  • State v. Calliham, No. 20000169.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • August 16, 2002
    ...We review a trial court's determination whether to remove a juror for cause for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1240 (Utah 1993). Under this standard, we will not reverse the trial court's ruling unless we find that the ruling was beyond reason. See id. In our......
  • State v. Mauchley, No. 20010551.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • April 1, 2003
    ...the perpetrator. Talbot, 665 P.2d at 1276. Nor does it require corroboration of any other element of the crime. See State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1241-42 (Utah 1993); State v. Cazier, 521 P.2d 554, 555 (Utah 1974). ¶ 17 For example, in a homicide case, the State must produce evidence t......
  • State v. Fauci, (SC 17402) (Conn. 4/10/2007), (SC 17402)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • April 10, 2007
    ...826, 830 (Tex. Crim. App. 1988) (using terms "prosecutorial misconduct" and "prosecutorial error" interchangeably); State v. Archuleta, 850 P.2d 1232, 1242 (Utah 1993) (referring to prosecutor's inadvertent but improper presentation of testimony as "prosecutorial error"); In re Personal Res......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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