Two men charged in the death of a Southern Utah State College student were inmates at a state prison annex in Cedar City until being paroled in October, the facility's director says.
Michael Anthony Archuleta, 26, and Lance Conway Wood, 20, are charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of Gordon Ray Church, 28, of Delta, whose body was found Nov. 23.Archuleta had served 18 months of a zero-to-five-year term for arranging to distribute a controlled substance for sale and was paroled Oct. 1, said state Corrections spokesman Juan Benavidez.
Wood, sentenced to zero to five years for theft and a concurrent one-year term for attempted theft, had served a year and was paroled on Oct. 25, Benavidez said.
Both had been incarcerated in the Cedar City facility, which opened in February, but were returned to Utah State Prison in Draper for processing before being released, said Jimmy Stewart, director of the Iron County-Utah State Correctional Facility.
Stewart said Monday that two wom-en, also SUSC students, regularly visited Archuleta and Wood.
The men obtained permission from their parole supervisor to return to Cedar City to look for work, said John Garff, regional director of state Adult Probation and Parole.
Archuleta and Wood, who also are charged with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and car theft, are being held without bail in Millard County Jail in Fillmore pending a preliminary hearing. No date has been set.
Church's body was found in a field near I-15 about 25 miles south of Fillmore. His abandoned, blood-splattered car and a pair of blood-stained blue jeans were found in West Valley City later the same day.
Millard County Sheriff Ed Phillips said at the time that deputies had received detailed information on the location of the body.
He also said the slaying appeared to have been at least partially sex-related and that Church was dead when his body was dumped and covered with dirt.
No further information has been released in the wake of a gag order issued by Justice of the Peace Ron Hare on Nov. 25.
Stewart said Archuleta originally was from Salem, Utah County, and Wood from Bountiful.