BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Idaho death row inmate with terminal cancer and heart disease calls on the state to let him die naturally rather than kill him by lethal injection next month .
The execution of Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr. is slated for June 2 for the 1985 death of Berta Herndon, 58, and her nephew Del Herndon, 37, in a remote cabin in Idaho County. His lawyers announced Tuesday that they had filed a pardon petition on his behalf with the Idaho Pardons & Parole Commission.
Pizzuto has end-stage bladder cancer, diabetes and heart disease and is confined to a wheelchair. He has been in palliative care since 2019, when doctors said he was unlikely to survive for a year.
Throughout his childhood, Pizzuto was tortured, raped and severely beaten by his stepfather and sometimes by his stepfather’s friends, according to his request for pardon. His stepfather would beat Pizzuto with a whip, a sting for the cattle, a horse crop and even a 2×4 piece of wood, and sometimes Pizzuto and his siblings were forced to sleep in a doghouse and eat dog food. He suffered repeated brain damage and struggled to communicate, stay clean and relate to other children, his lawyers said.
“Mr. Pizzuto never had a chance in life. He was tortured unimaginably throughout his childhood,” wrote his attorneys from the Federal Defense Service’s Capital Habeas Unit. Idaho in pardon petition “Merciless beatings and savage rapes beat and marked this little boy.”
The 65-year-old spent 34 years in an isolated cell on death row, his lawyers noted.
“The ravages of terminal cancer and heart disease punish him more every day, binding him to a wheelchair, trapped in his own failing body,” the lawyers wrote. “If it’s too late to save this little boy, it’s not too late. late to show his mercy to Jerry Pizzuto.
Pizzuto is one of eight people on Idaho death row.
Prosecutors said Pizzuto, armed with a .22 caliber rifle, tied the victims’ wrists behind their backs and tied their legs to steal their money. He clubbed them both.
Idaho has executed three people since the death penalty was resumed nationwide in 1976.
Keith Eugene Wells was executed in 1994, Paul Ezra Rhodes was executed in 2011, and Richard Albert Leavitt was executed in 2012.
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