Paul Fraughton, Paul Fraughton
Defense attorney James Slavens looks over a binder before the beginning of the hearing. The Preliminary hearing for Ruben Chavez-Reyes was held in the fourth district court in Fillmore, Utah on Wednesday, June 2, 2010. Slavens was killed in a car crash Wednesday evening.

FILLMORE — A Utah defense attorney who has handled several high-profile cases in the state was killed in a traffic accident Wednesday.

James Slavens, 54, of Fillmore, was exiting I-15 at the Fillmore exit just after 10 p.m. when he failed to negotiate the curve on the off-ramp, said Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson. He overcorrected, slid out of control and overturned, Johnson said.

Slavens, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and killed.

The accident remained under investigation Thursday, but Johnson said excessive speed and alcohol appeared to be factors.

Slavens recently represented death row inmate Michael Anthony Archuleta, 50, who was convicted in 1989 in the murder of a Southern Utah University student. Last week, Archuleta filed a petition in federal court asking to overturn his conviction. He and co-defendant Lance Conway Wood were convicted in separate trials in the 1989 torture death of SUU student Gordon Church.

At one point, Archuleta was scheduled to be executed in April by firing squad before receiving a reprieve pending his appeal.

Slavens also represented Ruben Chavez-Reyes, who was sentenced to prison in 2010 for obstruction of justice. Chavez-Reyes gave a ride to Roberto Miramontes Roman after Milllard County Sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox was shot and killed.

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