Friday, July 19, 2013

Warren Hill won't be executed tonight

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 5:06 PM

A protester earlier this week holds a picture of death row inmate Warren Hill.
  • Alyssa Pointer
  • A protester earlier this week holds a picture of death row inmate Warren Hill.

Death-row inmate Warren Hill will live to see the weekend.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens' spokeswoman Lauren Kane tells CL that the state won't appeal Hill's stay of execution until at least Monday, which means that the mentally-disabled inmate won't be executed tonight at 7 p.m. as originally scheduled by the Georgia Department of Corrections. Hill was sentenced to death in 1991 for murdering a fellow inmate. He was already serving a life sentence for previously killing his girlfriend.

"Warrant expires tomorrow," Hill's attorney Brian Kammer said in a short emailed statement. "SO this is a solid stay."

Kammer told CL earlier this morning that he was anticipating a "dicey day" in court to uphold the indefinite stay of execution that Hill received yesterday from a Fulton County judge. Until a few minutes ago, the possibility of Hill's execution at 7 p.m. remained a possibility. But the state was unable to file its appeal because the court did not send transcripts from yesterday's hearing in time. After speaking with Hill today, Kammer said his client was "relieved" about the case's recent developments.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan extended Hill's stay of execution - the third in the past year - after a contentious hearing over a new Georgia law that keeps its source of lethal injection drugs confidential. The corrections department had obtained drugs for Hill's execution from a compounding pharmacy, which called into the question the reliability and safety of how Hill would be killed.

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has put Hill's case on its conference docket for September 30 over an Eighth Amendment challenge. He also notes that the state's lethal-injection drugs expire in early August, which means corrections officials have to secure a new supply.

"There's an impediment to executing more people, including Mr. Hill, for the rest of the summer," Kammer says.

Given that Georgia's Supreme Court will be in recess during August, Cohen says there's a good chance they might wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case.

"I'd like to believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will do the right thing on the mental retardation issue," Kammer says. "That's a very stark and clear injustice that they have the power to remedy. That would be a just and permanent solution for Mr. Hill."

We'll pick up with the continuing Warren Hill saga on Monday.

NOTE: This story has been update to reflect additional information.

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