By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
On Thursday, U.S. Idaho District Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted a stay of execution for Gerald Pizzuto Jr., an Idaho man on death row after the state once again was unable to obtain the necessary chemicals for lethal injection.
Pizzuto’s execution was scheduled for March 23 after the Attorney General’s Office requested the death warrant last month.
The federal court has the authority to stay the execution if substantial grounds are found. Winmill filed the order with the Idaho County District Court on Friday.
Pizzuto’s attorneys requested Thursday that the court stay the death warrant, writing the “warrant expires if the State cannot demonstrate by the end of the day tomorrow, March 10, that it will be able to obtain the lethal drugs.”
Pizzuto, 66, has been on Idaho’s 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.
The Idaho Department of Correction had to cancel a previously scheduled execution of Pizzuto in November. IDOC stated at the time that it could not obtain the chemicals necessary to carry out an execution by lethal injection last year.
Meanwhile, the Idaho Legislature is in the process of reviewing a bill to bring back the firing squad as an execution method.