OGDEN — A former Clearfield man now in prison had his conviction upheld by a state appeals court earlier in the month.
Isak Jo Tatsu Archuleta, 36, had his appeal tossed by the Utah Court of Appeals in a decision issued on Aug. 8. Archuleta and two others were arrested in 2016 after two people were attacked and injured at gunpoint while others, including children, were held at gunpoint.
Court documents indicate that Archuleta and the two others broke into an Ogden home in June 2016, holding those inside at gunpoint while cash and methamphetamine were stolen from the home.
The intruders also stole cellphones and a computer, while one of the intruders, whom prosecutors believed to be Archuleta, ordered a man to transfer money to a bank account. When the man said he could not do that, Archuleta reportedly kicked and punched the man in the face several times.
Archuleta and the two others were later identified and arrested. He was charged with a number of counts, including aggravated assault, robbery and other crimes.
In November 2017, Archuleta entered into Alford pleas to one count of burglary, a second-degree felony, and one count of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt per se, but is when a defendant asserts their innocence but admits that there would likely be enough evidence to yield a conviction against them.
Also in the plea deal, prosecutors said they would suggest probation instead of prison. Archuleta signed the plea agreement on Nov. 15, 2017. However after conducting a presentence investigation, Adult Probation and Parole agents recommended that Archuleta should instead be sent to prison.
During a December 2017 sentencing hearing, a district court judge told Archuleta he did not have to abide by the state’s recommendation, and instead he chose to follow AP&P’s suggestion. When the judge said this, Archuleta’s counsel requested to push back the court date to evaluate potential issues regarding the sentencing, which was granted.
After yet another continuance was granted, Archuleta’s attorney tried to withdraw the pleas during the third hearing, something that drew objections from prosecutors. Archuleta interrupted his attorney and explained that he was “under the influence” when he agreed to the plea deal, despite saying he was not under the influence of anything when entering his plea. Archuleta, who had maintained his innocence thought the judicial process, also told the court that he knew who actually committed the home invasion and heard that person admit to the crime while in jail.
Because the court had not been informed of the new information and two continuances had already occurred, Archuleta was sent to prison, despite the state’s continued recommendation for probation.
Archuleta appealed his case on two grounds. He argued that he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, saying the court should have allowed investigators to examine his claims of being under the influence when he entered into the plea agreement. He also alleged that his attorney provided ineffective representation in the case.
The state appeals court rejected both arguments and affirmed the conviction, indicating that Archuleta did not meet the burden to overturn the case outlined in either argument.
As of Friday, Archuleta is serving his prison time at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. He will have a parole hearing in June 2020, according to the Board of Pardons and Parole.