Gerald Pizzuto is going to die in prison. Convicted of murdering two people near McCall and sentenced to death in 1986, Pizzuto either will expire naturally or leave this world with a needle sticking in his arm.
Given Idaho’s recent penchant for executions, one would think this a slam dunk. A Florida case, however, will force Idaho to take another look at the death sentence Pizzuto received 18 years ago. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida must use more than just an IQ score to determine whether someone is eligible for execution. Idaho’s guidelines are the same as Florida’s. Anyone with an IQ more than 70 makes the cut. Pizzuto’s IQ — these tests contain a 3 percent to 5 percent margin for error — is 72. But, as the court ruled, “Intellectual disability is a condition, not a number.” That means Pizzuto’s attorneys will get another shot to prevent his execution. Certainly they have a compelling argument. According to the American Association on Mental Retardation, someone with an IQ of between 70 and 75 is considered “retarded.”
That leaves Idaho in the unenviable position of arguing Pizzuto is just barely smart enough to be executed. The state will run up another round of legal bills for the privilege of killing a man who meets qualification guidelines for the Special Olympics.
At some point, Idahoans must face the obvious: the death penalty is unjust and immoral and should be ended. It would be nice if that epiphany occurred before — and not after — the state kills a mentally retarded man.