By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
Defense attorneys for Gerald Pizzuto Jr. claimed Monday that the Idaho Department of Correction has failed to identify which chemicals it will use to execute Pizzuto on Dec. 15, violating its own policy.
“Under IDOC’s official protocol, the lethal drugs are supposed to be either obtained or identified at least 20 days before an execution,” the defense claimed in a news release. “The state plans to put Mr. Pizzuto to death on Dec. 15. That means as of today’s date, there are 17 days left for the state to obtain the chemicals they plan to use.”
Idaho Reports requested comment from IDOC and did not receive an immediate response.
Under state policy, the chemicals obtained are required to be tested by a lab to ensure their potency.
“And now, a chaotic pursuit of drugs at the 11th hour is leaving little if no time for thorough testing and a review of the results. And on top of that, it will be nearly impossible for state and federal judges to resolve several pending legal questions about the drugs – even if IDOC does manage to obtain them today,” Pizzuto’s attorneys wrote. “But at this point, no one even knows which drugs will be chosen. Under the execution protocol, four different combinations of drugs can be used, or IDOC could choose an unlisted combination.”
The Idaho Legislature passed a law in 2022 granting anonymity to any manufacturer or supplier that supplied chemicals to the state. IDOC officials previously said that it has been unable to obtain lethal injection chemicals due to publicity concerns from suppliers.
Pizzuto’s attorneys addressed the bill in their press release.
“State lawmakers, before voting this year in favor of a secrecy bill that indefinitely protects the identity of drug suppliers, had questioned IDOC about the unethical ways it obtained chemicals for Idaho’s two most recent executions in 2011 and 2012. The suppliers for those executions had histories of shady practices and regulatory violations including selling expired drugs,” according to the press release.
The two most recent executions by lethal injection in Idaho were those of Paul Ezra Rhoades in November 2011 and Richard Leavitt in June 2012.
Lethal injection is the only legal form of execution in Idaho for people sentenced to death.
Pizzuto, 66, remains on death row after being convicted in the 1985 deaths of Berta Herndon and her nephew Delbert Herndon outside of McCall. His two co-defendants, William Odom and James Rice, were given lesser sentences for their roles in the crime.