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  1. #1

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    Gerald Ross Pizzuto, Jr. - Idaho Death Row






    Summary of Offense:

    Was sentenced to death for the July 1985 beating deaths of Berta Herndon and Del Dean Herndon.

  2. #2
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    In today's US Supreme Court orders, Pizzuto's petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was DENIED.

  3. #3
    I contacted the Attorney General's office in regards to Gerald Pizzuto's case because he is furthest along in the appellate process. Mr. Pizzutto has already had his conviction and death sentence upheld by state and federal courts and has completed the standard 3-tier appeals process every inmate is entitled to. However, he's also been denied numerous successive postconviction motions in the state courts including ones in regards to Ring V Arizona and another that affirmed the denial of his successive postconviction motion that he cannot be executed under Atkins V Virginia. However, according to the Office of the Attorney General, Mr. Pizzuto has a petition pending in Federal District Court in regards to the mental retardation issue as it is a matter of federal law, not state law.. An evidentiary hearing has already been held and Judge Lynn Winmill will make a decision later before the end of the summer in regards to Mr. Pizzuto's Atkins claim. The losing party may appeal to the 9th Circuit.
    Last edited by iMxth3xbossx5000; 06-13-2011 at 09:49 PM.

  4. #4
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    Thank you for the update iMxth3x.

  5. #5
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    GERALD PIZZUTO, JR. V. RANDY BLADES

    Misconduct Claim Won't Help Death-Row Inmate

    A 9th Circuit judge rebuked his colleagues Thursday for refusing to let a man on death row bring a second habeas petition after uncovering "shocking" evidence of judicial and prosecutorial corruption.

    Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr. was sentenced to death in May 1986 for the double homicide and robbery of Berta Louise Herndon and her adult nephew, Delbert Dean Herndon.

    The pair had been murdered one year earlier while camping in the Ruby Meadows campsite near McCall, Idaho.

    Pizzuto was also camping there at the same time with several friends from California.

    At trial, Pizzuto's ex-wife, Pamela Relken, gave damaging testimony about Pizzuto's "very violent, punishing" tendencies. In addition to the abuse and threats she allegedly suffered, Relken said Pizzuto drowned her cats and their puppy. Pizzuto allegedly hung the puppy's corpse from the shower stall and pushed Relken down the stairs when she was in her second trimester of pregnancy.

    But the prosecution's star witness was James Rice, who had been camping with Pizzuto that fateful day in 1985 and reported the murders to the police.

    Rice said he discovered the grisly scene after Pizzuto had allegedly bashed the victims' heads in with a hammer. He admitted to shooting Delbert Herndon in the head because he "didn't want him to suffer."

    But although Rice told the court that his plea carried the possibility of a life sentence, Pizzuto learned recently, after having exhausted the state appeals process, that his friend made a sweeter deal.

    Pizzuto asked the 9th Circuit in March 2011 to grant him a successive habeas corpus petition, with the court having rejected his earlier attempt in 2002.

    In addition to claims that Rice perjured himself and obtained an ex-parte plea deal with the trial judge, George Reinhardt, Pizzuto showed that Reinhardt made public statements of his intent to impose the death penalty before the sentencing hearing.

    As to prosecutorial misconduct, Pizzuto claimed that the state manipulated the evidence to corroborate Rice's testimony. Pizzuto's sister Angelinna also signed an affidavit that prosecutors provided her with alcohol and drugs, and told her how to testify.

    The federal appeals court rejected Pizzuto's bid Thursday, finding that a jury would likely rule the same way even if his claims of corruption held up.

    "If true, these allegations raise troubling issues about Pizzuto's trial," Judge Ronald Gould wrote for the majority.

    "The question is not whether this jury, knowing of this prosecutorial and judicial misconduct would have acquitted Pizzuto, but whether, 'in light of the evidence as a whole ... no reasonable factfinder would have found [Pizzuto] guilty,'" he added.

    "Though the testimony of Rice and Angelinna was part of the government's case, the prosecution did not rest solely on this testimony," the 14-page decision states. "William and Lene Odom's and Roger Bacon's testimony, forensic evidence, and the fact that Delbert Herndon's belongings were found with Pizzuto are sufficient to support a finding of guilt."

    Judge William Fletcher concluded otherwise in a stinging five-page dissent.

    "Pizzuto's claims, if proved, will establish such pervasive misconduct that no reasonable factfinder would have found Pizzuto guilty of the underlying offense," he wrote. "He should be afforded the opportunity to present these claims in an application for a writ of habeas corpus."

    "I am shocked by the conduct in this case," Fletcher added. "Nothing can be more disturbing to a judge than a conviction and death sentence obtained by a corrupt prosecutor colluding with a corrupt judge. The state asks us to deny Pizzuto an opportunity to challenge just such a conviction and sentence. The majority is willing to do just that. But no fair legal system - and certainly not our American legal system - should allow a conviction and death sentence based in part on perjured testimony procured by the collusion of the judge, the prosecutor, and counsel for Pizzuto's co-defendant."

    In September 2005, Pizzuto says he learned that prosecutors had promised Rice a sentence of about 14 years in exchange for his testimony.

    "Seeking further corroboration of these statements, Pizzuto's lawyers obtained the files and billing records of Rice's counsel," Fletcher wrote. "Those files revealed something even more troubling than Rice's false trial testimony about what he received in exchange for his guilty plea: the fact that Judge George Reinhardt participated in negotiating Rice's testimony and plea deal. Judge Reinhardt was the judge who presided over Rice's guilty plea, Pizzuto's trial, and Pizzuto's sentencing."

    "Throughout the plea colloquy, Judge Reinhardt never disclosed his involvement in the negotiations," the dissent states.

    Rice's lawyers apparently assured their client that they had a close relationship with the prosecutors and with Reinhardt. "Rice claims that at the same time his lawyers made these assurances, they instructed him to say 'no' at the plea colloquy when asked if he had been promised a certain sentence and to say 'yes' when asked if he understood that he could receive a life sentence," Fletcher wrote.

    He says the jury would not have convicted if it knew these allegations.
    "Despite the existence of other evidence against Pizzuto, knowledge of the misconduct by the prosecutor and the judge would have undermined any reasonable jury's faith in the entirety of the prosecution's case," Fletcher wrote.

    The dissent concludes on a somber note.

    "It is unfortunate that the shocking facts of this case were not uncovered sooner," Fletcher wrote. "But fortunate, indeed, that they were eventually uncovered, even though they come to us in the form of a request to bring a second or successive habeas petition. We should rejoice in a system that allows a second habeas challenge when diligent counsel is able to uncover the facts and present them to us before a man is put to death. When faced with the corruption of our legal system, we must start over. The first step is to allow Pizzuto to file a second petition for habeas corpus in the district court. Nothing more nor less is required of us. I dissent from the majority's refusal to take that first step."

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/03/08/44544.htm

  6. #6
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    On January 10, 2012, the Federal District Court denied Pizzuto's Atkins claim.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/ida...cv00516/18478/

    On May 8, 2012, Pizzuto filed an appeal in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the denial of his Atkins claim in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/cir.../ca9/12-99002/

  7. #7
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    On May 20, 2013, Pizzuto filed an appeal in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the apparent denial of his habeas petition, which was originally filed on June 22, 1992.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/cir.../ca9/13-35443/

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moh View Post
    On May 20, 2013, Pizzuto filed an appeal in the Ninth Circuit over the apparent denial of his habeas petition, which was originally filed on June 22, 1992.
    That's a bad joke.

  9. #9
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    GERALD PIZZUTO, JR. V. RANDY BLADES

    In today's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinions, the court AFFIRMED the denial of Pizzuto's habeas corpus petition challenging his conviction and death sentence based on Atkins v Virginia
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  10. #10
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    And the article

    Federal court rejects death row inmate's IQ appeal

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected Idaho death row inmate Gerald Pizzuto Jr.'s claim that he is too mentally disabled to be executed.

    A three-judge panel ruled Monday that the Idaho Supreme Court correctly applied federal case law when it found that Pizzuto was eligible for execution.

    Pizzuto had appealed his sentence, saying that his IQ was below 70, making it illegal for the state to execute him. But state attorneys have maintained Pizzuto's IQ is actually higher, and that there's no evidence he meets the criteria of Idaho's law banning capital punishment for mentally disabled criminals.

    Pizzuto was sentenced to die in 1986 for killing Berta Herndon, 58, and her nephew Del Dean Herndon, 37, as they were prospecting near McCall. At his trial, prosecutors said Pizzuto approached the Herndons with a .22-caliber rifle as they arrived at their mountain cabin, and once inside he tied them up so he could steal their money. Prosecutors said he came back later to bludgeon both of them with a hammer, ultimately shooting Del Dean Herndon between the eyes when the hammer blows failed to immediately kill him.

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it is unconstitutional to execute anyone who fits the medical definition of mental retardation, and Idaho state law defines mental retardation as having an IQ of 70 or below. Because Pizzuto was trying to retroactively apply his claims of mental disability to his case, Idaho law requires that he prove his IQ was lower than 70 at the time of the murders when he was 29 and that the low IQ occurred before he turned 18.

    http://newsok.com/federal-court-reje...le/feed/588811
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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