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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Warren Hill granted stays of execution (Update)

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Multiple media outlets have confirmed with the lawyer representing death-row inmate Warren Lee Hill that the 11th Circuit Appeals Court in Atlanta and the Georgia Court of Appeals have granted Hill stays of execution. Both stays were reportedly issued less than half an hour before Hill was scheduled to be killed at 7 p.m. WABE's Charles Edwards and Robert Aaron report:

[Brian Kammer, one of Hill's attorneys] says the Georgia Court of Appeals decision was based on an issue with Georgia's method of lethal injection. He says the 11th Circuit's decision was based on an issue with mental retardation. Recently, three doctors said Hill is mentally retarded. The same group of doctors originally said Hill was not mentally retarded.

According to WABE, Hill's attorney says that "this may only be temporary." Staffers at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the nonprofit legal firm, spoke with Hill's attorney and say the execution is definitely halted for tonight.

As CL reported yesterday, critics have insisted that he shouldn't receive the death penalty because of his possible mental disabilities. Recently, three doctors stated that their original evaluation of the convicted murderer "was extremely and unusually rushed."

Despite those calls, Hill's chances for clemency appeared to be fading fast. The Georgia Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution by a 5-2 vote. Not long after, The State Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a plea for lenience.

Kammer, who says that his client has an IQ around 70, released the following statement today about the Georgia Supreme Court's decision:

We are profoundly disappointed that Georgia's Supreme Court has refused to stop tonight's execution of Warren Hill, a person with mental retardation, which we believe is at odds with the Unites States Supreme Court's protection of the mentally retarded. More than a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that persons with mental retardation must not be executed. As new affidavits in our recent petition show, Mr. Hill's diagnosis of mental retardation is now unanimous among all the doctors who have examined him.

The state of Georgia remains an extreme outlier in requiring that defendants prove they have mental retardation 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' This is the strictest standard in any jurisdiction in this nation. Even Warren Hill, a man with an I.Q of 70, who is diagnosed as mentally retarded by every doctor who has examined him, finds it impossible to meet this standard of proof. The U.S. Supreme Court must intervene in this case and prevent a mentally retarded man from being put to death tonight.

UPDATE, 6:25 p.m.: The AJC says that Hill opted to take sedatives in preparation for his likely death in a half hour. He also declined to make a special request for his last meal. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Hill ate the same food other inmates consume: "macaroni and cheese, baked beans, stir-fried vegetables, corn bread, cookies and iced tea."

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