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Monday, September 9, 2013

AP: Federal Court Rejects Death Row Inmate’s IQ Appeal

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Gerald Pizzuto Jr. is on death row for the murder of two people in McCall in 1986. His appeal, stating he should be spared the death penalty because his IQ is too low, was rejected in federal court. - IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION
  • Idaho Department of Correction
  • Gerald Pizzuto Jr. is on death row for the murder of two people in McCall in 1986. His appeal, stating he should be spared the death penalty because his IQ is too low, was rejected in federal court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Idaho death row inmate Gerald Pizzuto Jr.’s claim that he is too mentally disabled to be executed. Pizzuto had appealed his sentence, stating that his IQ was below 70, making it illegal for the state to execute him.

The Associated Press reported today that state attorneys have maintained Pizzuto's IQ is higher and there is no evidence he meets the criteria of Idaho’s law banning capital punishment for mentally disabled criminals.

Pizzuto received his death sentence in 1986 for killing Berta Herndon, 58, and her nephew Del Dean Herndon, 37, as they were prospecting near McCall. Pizzuto approached the pair with a .22 rifle as they arrived at their mountain cabin and tied them up so he could steal their money. He came back later to bludgeon both of them with a hammer, but shot Del Dean between the eyes when the hammer blows failed to kill him.

Idaho state law defines mental retardation as having an IQ of 70 or lower and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it’s unconstitutional to execute anyone who fits the definition of mental retardation. Idaho law requires Pizzuto prove his IQ was lower than 70 at the time of the murders, when he was 29. But long drug usage and seizures have both had a negative impact on his intellectual abilities. State attorneys say his IQ at the time of the murders was 77.


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