BOISE — The Idaho Supreme Court has denied requests from six death row inmates who said they were entitled to new trials because a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made after their convictions called on juries, not judges, to impose the death penalty.
All the inmates argued that the state violated their Sixth Amendment rights because they were sentenced to death by a judge instead of by a jury, as required under a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
But in a unanimous ruling handed down Friday, the Idaho Supreme Court noted that their cases were all appealed and the judgments made final before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was issued — and the Idaho justices said the 2002 ruling can’t be retroactively applied to the Idaho inmates’ cases.
All six inmates have appeals in various stages of state and federal court that will now move forward.
They were sentenced to death on first-degree murder charges, some of them in multiple murder cases:
• Paul Ezra Rhoades was sentenced to death for the 1998 rape and murder of Idaho Falls teacher Susan Michelbacher, 34, and the murder and kidnapping of Blackfoot convenience store clerk Stacy Dawn Baldwin, 24. Rhoades was also sentenced to life without parole for the shooting murder of convenience store clerk Nolan Haddon, 21.
• Randall Lynn McKinney was convicted of shooting to death Robert Bishop Jr., 25, of Pocatello, whose body was found in a gravel pit in 1981.
• Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr., was convicted of beating to death Marsing resident Berta Herndon, 58, and her nephew, Del Dean Herndon.
• David Leslie Card, of Nampa, was sentenced to death row for the 1988 shooting deaths of newspaper carriers Eugene and Shirley Morey.
• James Harvey Hairston was sentenced to death in a double murder case after he was convicted of robbing and shooting to death elderly couple William and Dalma Fuhriman at their rural Downey farmhouse.
• Gene Francis Stuart, a former Orofino resident, was convicted in 1981 of murder by torture in the beating death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son, Robert Miller.