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State gets new death warrant for man convicted of 1985 Idaho double murder

The execution date is set for March 23. "The state will continue to attempt to obtain the necessary drugs" for lethal injection, Attorney General Labrador says.

BOISE, Idaho — Gerald Pizzuto Jr., convicted nearly 37 years ago of murdering two people in Idaho, has a new execution date.

A Second District judge on Friday issued a death warrant for Pizzuto, ordering that he be put to death March 23, unless an appeals court stays the execution. The warrant states that the court has found "no valid stays of execution are currently in place." This is the second death warrant issued for Pizzuto since November 2022.

Pizzuto was sentenced to death in 1986 for the July 25, 1985, murders of Berta and Del Herndon in Idaho County. According to the Idaho Supreme Court, Pizzuto's accomplices testified that Pizzuto went to rob the Herndons, bound their hands, and hit them in the head with a hammer.

"Pizzuto should serve the punishment the court sentenced him to in 1986. He has tried and failed for 37 years to change the outcome of his trial and sentence," Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador said in a news release announcing that his office had obtained a new death warrant. "The Idaho Supreme Court has denied him relief eight times, The Ninth Circuit (U.S. Court of Appeals) has reviewed his case three times. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme court has denied hearing this case six times."

Pizzuto was previously scheduled for execution on Dec. 15, 2022, by lethal injection. However, the execution was called off because Idaho Department of Correction has not been able to require the necessary chemicals.

"We hope the Legislature will also consider giving the State an alternative method of execution," Labrador said.

Complete text of death warrant (mobile users tap here to view).

KTVB asked why Labrador obtained the new death warrant even though the state may not have the drugs.

Emily Kleinworth, public information specialist for the Attorney General's Office, said Labrador was following Idaho Code, which "mandates that, 'if for any reason,' 'a judgment of death has not been executed, and it remains in force, the state shall apply for another warrant.'"

House Bill 186 would reauthorize execution by firing squad has been introduced in the Idaho House. It was introduced Wednesday and referred to the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee on Thursday. If the House and Senate approve the bill, and Gov. Brad Little signs it, the new law would not take effect until July 1, according to Section 2 of the bill.

Lawyers for Pizzuto in 2021 asked the Idaho Commission on Pardons and Parole that his death sentence should be commuted to life without parole on the grounds that he was wheelchair-bound, terminally ill, "and no longer a threat to anyone."

The Commission voted to recommend taking PIzzuto off Death Row. Gov. Little denied that clemency request. A Second District judge in February 2022 ruled that the governor did not have the authority to overrule the Commission's recommendation, but six months later, the Idaho Supreme Court overturned that decision and restored Pizzuto's death sentence.

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