Idaho cancels execution because of failure to obtain lethal drugs

Idaho cancels execution because of failure to obtain lethal drugs

The state of Idaho has been forced to cancel an execution it had planned for December 15 because it failed to get the lethal drugs it needed to carry it out.

Idaho was set to execute Gerard Pizzuto by lethal injection, but the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) informed the state’s Board of Correction earlier this week that the death warrant for Mr. Pizzuto recieved on November 16 should be allowed to expire.

“While our efforts to secure chemicals remain ongoing, I have no reason to believe our status will change prior to the scheduled execution on December 15, 2022,” IDOC Director Josh Tewalt wrote in a memo quoted in a department Facebook post earlier this week. “In my professional judgement, I believe it is in the best interest of justice to allow the death warrant to expire and stand down our execution preparation.”

The department’s struggle to get the chemicals means that Mr Pizzuto, who believed he was just weeks away from being put to death, will now again face an uncertain future.

“There is no more solemn responsibility than implementing capital punishment, and it is a responsibility this agency approaches with the gravity and care it deserves,” Mr Tewalt wrote in the memo.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that Mr Pizzuto, 66, has late stage bladder cancer. The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole has recommended that his death sentence be commuted and he should be allowed to die a natural death in prison, but Gov Brad Little rejected the recommendation.

Mr Pizzuto’s attorney Deborah Czuba sharply criticised the state of obtaining a death warrant despite its unpreparedness to carry out an execution in a statement to Newsweek, and reiterated her belief that Mr Little should accept the recommendation that her client be allowed to die a natural death.

“The State’s decision to get a death warrant while being unprepared for an execution led to a tremendous amount of unnecessary and costly litigation, all at taxpayer expense,” Ms Czuba said.

Mr Pizzuto was convicted for killing two people in an armed robbery attempt in 1986 and sentenced to death.

This is not the first time that a state has encountered difficulties acquiring or propertly administrating lethal drugs in a death penalty case. The state of Oklahoma, which botched a high-profile execution in 2014, last year executed a man who was vomiting and convulsing last year.