In 1988, Georgia became the first state to outlaw executing mentally disabled people. The caveat: a criminal's mental handicap has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to the attorney general's office, lawyers for convicted murderer and death row inmate Warren Hill failed to meet that burden of proof. Today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied a plea for clemency, and decided to go forward with Hill's execution on July 18 even though he has an IQ of only 70.
Anti-capital punishment organization Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty wrote in a press release:
Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) is deeply disappointed by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles’ decision not to grant clemency to Warren Hill, a man with an undisputed IQ of 70. ... The execution of Mr. Hill marks Georgia’s first execution since the state took the life of Troy Anthony Davis despite ample evidence of his innocence. It comes on the heels of the 40th anniversary of Furman v Georgia, in which the United States Supreme Court halted executions nationwide when it reversed three death sentences, two rendered in Georgia and one in Texas. The prevailing reason was simple: the arbitrary, wanton and freakish imposition of the ultimate penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment that is proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.
A series of vigils are planned for Wednesday night.
Hill was serving a life sentence in Lee County for shooting and killing his girlfriend, when he murdered his cellmate by beating him with a board that was studded with nails. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2002 that executing the mentally retarded was cruel and unusual punishment — there's still a chance that court could intervene in Hill's case.
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