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JURY CONVICTS TEEN OF MURDER AT PAY PHONE

Anthony Martin Archuleta knew public sentiment may have been against him before he stood trial this week for murder.

Gangs and juvenile crime have become one of the valley's biggest areas of concern over the past several months."He's afraid. He's the first person to be in that position as the community is (increasingly) concerned about juvenile violence. He's the first to go to trial," defense attorney Brooke Wells said earlier this week.

Jurors apparently felt little sympathy for the 17-year-old Thursday, convicting him of murder, a first-degree felony, after 41/2 hours of deliberation. The six-woman, two-man jury didn't buy his story that he was acting in self-defense when he shot Roland "Bo" Zahorka.

"Any kid that pulls a trigger on another person kills himself," said Lonnie Pursifull, Zahorka's nephew. "I pray that justice be served so others won't follow in his (Archuleta's) footsteps."

The teen showed little emotion when the verdict was read, then bowed his head forward. Archuleta's mother and other family members broke into sobs. His father, also crying, had to be restrained by another family member outside in the hallway.

Members of Zahorka's family also wept.

"I'm relieved. It's like a big weight that's been lifted off our shoulders," said Zahorka's sister, Colleen Pursifull.

"I've forgiven," Lonnie Pursifull added. "But I ain't going to forget. Murder is murder."

On Feb. 3, Archuleta pulled out a gun and shot Zahorka, 38, through the heart during a dispute involving a pay phone. Archuleta had purchased the gun at a party about a week earlier because he said he was receiving threats from gang members.

He and a friend went to a gas station at 315 E. 3900 South to use the pay phone that evening when Zahorka drove up to the pay phone. Archuleta said he hit Zahorka's truck, angry that it had come so close to hitting him. Words were exchanged and Zahorka shoved Archuleta against a wall.

Archuleta turned to 18-year-old Devin Espinoza and told him to give him the gun. Archuleta then cocked the handgun and shot Zahorka as he held the gun against his chest.

"There was a shove at most. A car pulled in rather fast and he killed someone for it," said prosecutor Kent Morgan.

"I'm sorry he was 16. I'm sorry his family feels bad about this. We're sorry," Morgan said during closing arguments. "But it is very basic, you don't shoot somebody in cold blood."

Wells reminded jurors that Zahorka was much older and larger than Archuleta when he confronted and trapped him. "He was agitated. He was confrontational. He was frightening," she said.

"We don't know what Bo would have done had this (shoving) gone on further. Anthony, in his state of mind, didn't want to find out, and he didn't wait to find out."

Archuleta was also upset over the recent death of his friend Jeremy Gaitin, who was stabbed to death during a gang-related fight in West Valley City on Jan. 15. Archuleta was present at the fight and said he later received threats from those who killed Gaitin.

Wells said her client was also distraught over his father's alcoholism and all those factors contributed to Archuleta's emotional state at the time. "It's enough for an adult - overwhelming for a 16-year-old," she said.

Archuleta denied telling Za-hor-ka he couldn't use the pay phone, but others testified they overheard such an argument. Another man said Archuleta threatened to fight him when he approached the pay phones just minutes before Zahorka arrived.

Third District Judge Homer Wilkinson will sentence Archuleta on Dec. 2. He faces a 5-years-to-life prison term, and prosecutors may also ask the judge to impose a five-year enhancement for using a firearm.