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Idaho State News

Idaho Supreme Court to Hear State’s Appeal Monday in Death Row Case

Photo credit: Idaho Department of Corrections

BOISE – Governor Brad Little issued a statement Friday ahead of the Idaho Supreme Court’s Monday hearing related to the death penalty sentences of convicted serial killer and rapist Gerald Pizzuto.

Pizzuto is on death row and was convicted of robbery and four grisly murders, all committed within a year after his release from prison in Michigan for rape. He killed Rita Drury, a grandmother, after binding her hands and feet, brutally assaulting her, and violating her in a disgusting and humiliating manner. He fatally shot John Ray Jones in the face at near point-blank range. At Ruby Meadows in Idaho, Pizzuto bound Berta and Del Herndon, gruesomely bludgeoned their heads repeatedly and concealed their bodies in a shallow grave.

Governor Little said:

“I am committed to the rule of law and have followed the Idaho Constitution and Idaho Code in denying a reduced sentence for Gerald Pizzuto’s cruel and calculated murders of Berta and Del Herndon in Idaho County. The severity of Pizzuto’s brutal, senseless, and indiscriminate killing spree strongly warrants against a reduced sentence. The state must have the ability to fully carry out the just sentences as ordered by the court in this case.”

The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole voted 4-3 in December of 2021 to commute Pizzuto’s death sentences to life in prison without the chance of parole. Pursuant to the Idaho Constitution and Idaho Code, the commission’s written decision constitutes a recommendation to the Governor. After a thorough review of the voluminous records submitted during the commission’s public hearing, Governor Little rejected the commission’s recommendation to reduce Pizzuto’s death sentences. Pizzuto’s lawyers sued, and one judge concluded the section of Idaho Code the Governor followed violates the Idaho Constitution. The State of Idaho appealed the decision to the Idaho Supreme Court, and in May the Governor’s Office filed an amicus brief to support the state’s position that the law allowed the Governor to reject the commission’s recommendation for a reduced sentence.

The Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments in the state’s appeal Monday.