SLC woman, 29, imprisoned for killing adopted infant son

Date: 2006-05-20

SLC woman, 29, imprisoned for killing adopted infant son
By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published May 20, 2006 12:33 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Julie Archuleta on Friday tried to tell the court that she took good care of her adopted son.
The judge interrupted her.

"No, you didn't," said Judge Leslie Lewis, "or he wouldn't have died."

Lewis later ordered Archuleta to spend one to 15 years in prison for shaking and killing 5-month-old Dreydon Archuleta in her Salt Lake City home. Lewis also ordered Archuleta to pay $9,250 in fines.

Archuleta, 29, pleaded guilty in 3rd District Court in March to child-abuse homicide, a second-degree felony.

On Sept. 27, 2004, Archuleta picked up a crying Dreydon by his ankles and aggressively shook him, according to a statement she gave the court in March. When Dreydon continued crying, Archuleta said, she sat him in her lap, turned him toward her and again violently shook him.

The baby's breathing became labored. Archuleta called 911. Dreydon died two days later.

Archuleta, who had been free pending sentencing, sat next to her husband and Dreydon's adoptive father, Gino Archuleta, as she waited for her case to be called. Archuleta's attorney, Gilbert Athay, asked Lewis not to impose a prison sentence but rather order his client to jail for what likely would have been a year or less.

Athay said Archuleta was suffering from the effects of recent surgeries and pain medications when she killed Dreydon.

Archuleta addressed the court and said she was sorry for the people she hurt.

"It's not like me," she said.

"You took a life. Let's be clear here," Lewis responded.

Gino Archuleta did not address the court, but his father and stepmother, Sam and Cheryl Archuleta, sought the maximum prison term. Wearing a white T-shirt that had Dreydon's picture silkscreened onto it, Cheryl Archuleta told Lewis her daughter-in-law had been in good enough health to attend a University of Utah football game and a baby shower the weekend before Dreydon died, and Julie Archuleta had family who could have helped her.

"Had she been in such ill health, all she had to do was pick up the phone," Cheryl Archuleta said.

Dreydon's birth mother, Misty Deleon, told Lewis she was pregnant with the child while an inmate at the Utah State Prison, gave birth shortly after her release and put Dreydon up for adoption to give him a better life.

Turning to her left to look at Archuleta, who stood next to the jury box frowning and wiping tears, Deleon said, "One thing I learned in prison is you have to take responsibility for your actions, Julie."

After the relatives finished speaking and Lewis imposed the sentence, the judge told Archuleta, "I hope you can live with yourself, Ms. Archuleta. I couldn't."

Archuleta then was taken into custody for transportation to prison.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

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