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Hill granted stay of execution

Warren Lee Hill

Warren Lee Hill

ATLANTA — A Georgia man convicted of killing two people and described by his lawyers as mentally disabled was granted last-minute stays of execution on Tuesday by a U.S. federal appeals court and a state appeals court, his lawyer said.

Warren Lee Hill, 52, was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday night for beating a fellow inmate in 1990 to death while serving a life sentence for fatally shooting his girlfriend.

Brian Kammer, one of Hill’s attorneys, said the execution would be temporarily halted after the stays granted by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The federal court decision came in response to appeals by Hill’s lawyers arguing he is mentally retarded, Kammer said. The decision by the Georgia state court followed a legal challenge over the state’s method of executing Hill by lethal injection, he said.

In 1988, Georgia became the first U.S. state to enact a law banning the execution of mentally retarded defendants. But according to death penalty experts, Georgia has perhaps the toughest standard in the nation for defining mental retardation, requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Last week, Kammer filed affidavits in a Georgia court by three doctors who evaluated Hill for the state 13 years ago and now believe after further review that he is mentally retarded.

“There is now unanimous consensus among all experts who have evaluated Mr. Hill over the last 22 years,” Kammer told Reuters on Monday. “Mr. Hill should be deemed to have met Georgia’s uniquely stringent burden of proof for proving mental retardation.”

However, in court documents, the state of Georgia said the three state doctors reviewed “extensive materials” before concluding in 2000 that he was not mentally disabled, and were thoroughly cross-examined by Hill’s attorneys at the time.

The doctors noted in 2000 that Hill had been a recruiter for the U.S. Navy, budgeted his money and was a “father figure” for his siblings, the state said in court documents.

In the new affidavits, one doctor called the earlier evaluation of Hill “extremely and unusually rushed” while another said his opinions of Hill in 2000 were “unreliable because of my lack of experience at the time.”

A third doctor cited “advances in the understanding of mental retardation” since 2000 as a reason for changing his findings.

Georgia postponed Hill’s execution last summer after the state announced it would use one drug instead of three for lethal injections of condemned inmates.

Georgia officials did not say what prompted the change to the single drug. But in a legal challenge, Kammer said Georgia’s supply of pancuronium bromide — one of the three drugs previously used in lethal injections — expired on July 1.

Kammer had argued corrections officials did not give the required notice under state law of the change, depriving his client adequate time to review the new procedure. The Georgia Supreme Court turned down the appeal on Feb. 4.

Comments

VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

Just think of all the money that could have been saved if they'd executed him 20 years ago. Why shoulkd he get extra days...I mean years to live ? He didn't give his victims a chance to extend their lives.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

I reported it before you did.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

BTW this fellow is no more retarded than Obwan is.

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waltspecht 1 year, 10 months ago

Mentally ill or not. A killer is a killer and the only way to assure they won't kill again is to remove them from the living. What are you going to do with this guy? Lock him up until he decides to kill again?

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chinaberry25 1 year, 10 months ago

30 percent of the folks in prison are mentally ill. Most do know the difference from right and wrong. Mentally ill is not a deterrent to avoid capital punishment. That judge needs to go if he is an elected official. Folks need to start watching the moves of judges and politicians and mark your calenders come election day. You can use write in candidates too.

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1d2ec 1 year, 10 months ago

{ don't recall meeting a mentally retarded,person that was violent in fact most are kind and gentle.

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JST 1 year, 10 months ago

Our judicial, medical, and political system has turned from being the envy of the world into a laughing stock.

He has killed 2 people and since 1986 we (the few working people in this nation) have fed, housed, clothed, provided medical and legal care to the tune of approximately $120,000 a year based on a moderat estimate I read on the cost of incarceration.

What incentive do you give these gang bangers, welfare bottom feeders, negligent breeders (I won't call them mothers or fathers), and the rest of the give me or I'll steal from you or kill you society to better themselves and become an asset to this democracy.

Sad day - should have took him out back in 1986 and been done with it.

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bubbavet 1 year, 10 months ago

70 IQ? Must be a graduate of ASU.

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