JACKSON, Ga. — A man who killed another inmate at the Lee Correctional Institute in August 1990 has been given an execution window, state officials say.
Warren Lee Hill is to be executed by the state at some point between noon on July 18 and noone on July 25. The commissioner of the Department of Corrections has tentatively scheduled the execution for 7 p.m. on July 18.
According to an e-mail from the Georgia Attorney General's Office, Hill and the victim, Joseph Handspike, were both incarcerated for murder at the Lee Correctional Institution in August 1990. Hill was serving a life sentence for murdering his 18-year-old girlfriend, Myra Wright, in 1986 by shooting her 11 times. That case was tried in Cobb County.
During Hill’s trial for the Handspike’s murder, a Lee C.I. correctional officer testified that at 5:10 a.m., he heard a loud noise emanating from the inmates' sleeping quarters in Wing C. Upon entering the wing to investigate, the officer witnessed Hill bludgeoning the victim, who was lying in his bed. The officer quickly returned to his station, called for backup and opened the security gate to allow other officers to enter. He returned to the scene and saw that Hill had quit beating the victim. The officer demanded that Hill surrender his weapon, and Hill complied handing over the board he had used in the beating, the email states.
A correctional officer and the other witness testified that the victim was attacked while he was sleeping and that he was unable to defend himself. Witnesses testified the board used to murder the victim was a 2-by-6-inch board "that had been trimmed down to a leg" and that it had been used to support for a sink in the bathroom of Wing C at the institution. Testimony stated that several nails protruded from one end of the board.
Testimony in court showed that Handspike was beaten in the upper body and face, was missing teeth and that one of his eyes was detached from its socket.
Hill was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Hill’s conviction and death sentence on March 15, 1993.
In May 1997, the state's habeas court granted a jury trial to determine whether Hill was, as he claimed, "mentally retarded." After complicated legal maneuvering, the court ruled in 2002 that Hill had met his obligation to prove his diminished mental capacity, a ruling that was appealed by the state to the Georgia Supreme Court, which remanded the case to the habeas court, which vacated its previous order and denied Hill's claim.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Hill had no claim for a new trial and Hill's petition to have his case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court was denied on June 4.