Woman pleads guilty in son's shaking death

Date: 2006-03-28

Woman pleads guilty in son's shaking death
Sentencing is May 12: The mother, 29, says medication affected her mental state the day she killed the 5-month-old

By Lisa Rosetta
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published March 28, 2006 12:08 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A Salt Lake City woman who shook her 5-month-old boy to death in September pleaded guilty Monday to child-abuse homicide in 3rd District Court.
Julie Archuleta, 29, told the court she was on pain medications, recovering from a recent surgery, and "wasn't in the right state of mind" when she grabbed her crying son by the ankles Sept. 27 and aggressively shook him.

When the baby continued to cry, she picked him up and sat him in her lap, turned him toward her and once again violently shook him, she said. The baby ceased crying and acted "sleepy," his breathing labored. Archuleta placed her son on her bed and called 911.

Two days later, the infant died of a "nonaccidental head injury consistent with violent shaking and a blow to the head," according to court documents.

Archuleta initially told police her son had fallen asleep the morning of Sept. 27, and when he woke, he was having trouble breathing. He became "limp," after which she called 911.

Sam Archuleta, Julie's father-in-law, said his grandson was "the happiest little boy I've ever seen. . . . He was fun to be around."

Julie Archuleta should spend some time behind bars, said Cheryl Archuleta, the defendant's mother-in-law.

"She needs to think about what she's done," she said.

In exchange for Archuleta's guilty plea, the state agreed to remain silent on the issue of how much time she should spend in prison, said Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney T. Langdon Fisher.

Archuleta - whose sentencing is scheduled for May 12 on the charge, a second-degree felony - faces up to 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, an 85 percent surcharge and restitution.

Judge Leslie Lewis ordered Archuleta, who will remain free on supervised release, to see a psychiatrist once a week, take no pain medications and have no contact with children.

lrosetta@sltrib.com

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