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NAACP rallies against capital punishment

Edward DuBose, (at podium) president of NAACP, Georgia State Conference, said his organization is against the death penalty in all cases, regardless of the prisoner’s color or the nature of the crime. The group rallied on the steps of the Dougherty County Courthouse specifically to protest the planned execution of Warren Hill, who some say is mentally disabled.

Edward DuBose, (at podium) president of NAACP, Georgia State Conference, said his organization is against the death penalty in all cases, regardless of the prisoner’s color or the nature of the crime. The group rallied on the steps of the Dougherty County Courthouse specifically to protest the planned execution of Warren Hill, who some say is mentally disabled.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Local members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People staged a rally Friday afternoon on the steps of the Dougherty County Courthouse. Their purpose was to protest and raise awareness of the planned July 15 execution of twice-convicted killer Warren Lee Hill, considered by many experts to be mentally disabled.

Hill received a life sentence for killing his girlfriend, Myra Wright, in 1986. He later was given a death sentence for beating a cellmate, Joseph Handspike, to death while serving in the Lee Correctional Institution in Lee County.

While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it is unconstitutional to execute people with intellectual disabilities, Georgia is the only state that requires the much more difficult proof of reasonable doubt, rather than preponderance of the evidence to establish the statutory definition.

In light of new evidence, all three doctors who originally certified Hill as mentally fit for execution are said to have reversed their opinions and now believe Hill, with an IQ of about 70, is legally retarded and ineligible for execution.

Edward DuBose, president of the NAACP's Georgia State Conference, said at the rally that his organization is against the death penalty in all cases, regardless of the prisoner's color or the crime he or she committed. The organization is especially against capital punishment for the mentally disabled, he said, and has partnered in principle with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to protest Hill's case.

"We believe (the death penalty) is counterproductive and serves no purpose," DuBose said. "Mr. Warren Hill murdered someone. We're not saying he shouldn't be punished. Georgia is about to engage in an extremely barbaric and inhumane act -- to kill a person who may not even be able to appreciate he's about to be executed."

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole has so far refused to intervene in Hill's planned execution, but the NAACP and the GCDD continue to call upon Gov. Nathan Deal to act on the Hill case while there's still time.

"Gov. Nathan Deal," DuBose said at the rally, "you say you have influence. Do not allow on your watch, on the 15th of July, a mentally retarded individual to be killed."

DuBose said Hill should be given special security considerations for his mental disabilities.

"I don't think he should necessarily be in solitary confinement, in some hole -- because that's what solitary confinement is -- but placed in an institution with special resources for the mentally challenged," DuBose said.

In collaboration with the GCDD and the Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, state NAACP chapters have planned rallies and candlelight vigils in 11 Georgia cities, including Dawson.

According to the Rev. Ezekial Holley with the Dawson-Terrell County NAACP, there will be a vigil on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and State Highway 520 if the U.S. Supreme Court has not acted on Hill's behalf.