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Death penalty may be sought for Archuleta

June 18, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

A 22-year-old Brawley man accused of fatally stabbing 16-year-old Jovita Becerra in her home in Brawley might be facing the death penalty.

Imperial County Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen said prosecutors have enough evidence to seek the death penalty against Pedro Gutierrez Archuleta but have not made a final decision on that matter.

The announcement came after Owen, during a preliminary hearing Monday, informed Archuleta and his attorney, Brooks Anderholt of El Centro, she amended a special circumstance to the murder charge he is facing.

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The special circumstance is that the murder of Jovita was intentional and it involved the infliction of torture because Jovita was stabbed more than 47 times.

She was killed May 7 in the Brawley apartment she shared with her mother. Archuleta was arrested hours after Jovita was found murdered.

Police said evidence and witness reports from the scene led them to Archuleta, who was the live-in boyfriend of one of Jovita's older sisters. Archuleta and Jovita's older sister have children together.

Police also said Jovita was dropped off at the apartment in the late afternoon of May 6.

Archuleta will be arraigned on the new amended charges Thursday in the county jail court.

Owen said prosecutors also could seek to have Archuleta sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole. She said the final decision will be made shortly after his arraignment on Thursday.

Anderholt was in court this morning and was not available for comment.

Archuleta is being held in county jail with bail set at $1 million.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon contributed to this story.

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