Earl Shumway, of Moab, Utah, who was convicted in August, 1995 of seven felonies, including four counts of ARPA violations, two counts of damaging federal property, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, was sentenced in mid-December to six and half years in federal prison. According to Scott M. Matheson, U.S. attorney for Utah, it is the largest sentence ever handed down under the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.
Shumway was convicted of two ARPA counts and two counts of damaging federal property in Canyonlands National Park, when he used a helicopter to loot Dop-Ki Cave, an Anasazi site. He excavated, among other things, a number of human burials, including an infant wrapped in the remains of a ceremonial blanket. Another site he looted was Horse Rock Ruin in Manti LaSal National Forest.
Shumway maintained his innocence, but his claims were rejected by the judge, who was highly critical of Shumway's apparent unrepentant attitude. It was not only Shumway's attitude that affected the judge's decision to hand down a stiff sentence. During the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. prosecuting attorney Wayne Dance portrayed Shumway as a thief who had stolen from the nation's heritage and had once bragged about excavating his first human burial at age three. Shumway's past worked against him as well. He had been convicted in 1984 of an ARPA violation, and was placed on probation. Dance requested the judge to give Shumway the harshest sentence so as to protect cultural resources from him, to punish him, and to act as a deterrent to others.
Dance's comments were echoed by letters read at the hearing from the Hopi Tribe, the Utah state archaeologist, Kevin Jones, and Frank McManamon of the National Park Service. While each of these letters had their own perspective, they were unanimous in urging the judge to deal severely with Shumway.
One interesting twist used by Dance, and which may set a precedent for future ARPA cases involving the excavation of human burials, was to ask the judge to consider the infant burial as a "vulnerable victim" of Shumway's depredations. Dance argued that the disturbance of the human burial aggravated the severity of the looting.
As recommended by the U.S. Probation office, a standard sentence for ARPA violations should range from 51 to 63 months; Shumway was sentenced to 78 months, and was also instructed to pay a restitution of $5,510.
Archaeologists, Native Americans, and law enforcement officials expressed satisfaction with the sentencing. It is important to note that this story received considerable publicity from Salt Lake City newspapers, and the post-sentencing press conference was covered by local television affiliates.
This article was compiled from two sources: a December 16, 1995, article in the Deseret News of Salt Lake City, written by Brent Israelson, and a posting to the ARCH-L list server on December 18, 1995, by Garth Portillo, BLM State Archaeologist for Utah.