0

Georgia Supreme Court will hear appeal of killer

Warren Lee Hill’s attorneys will present arguments

ALBANY — The Georgia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in the case of twice-convicted killer, Warren Lee Hill.

Hill was given the death sentence in 1991 after a Lee County jury convicted him of murder in the 1990 bludgeoning death of a fellow prison inmate, Joseph Handspike. At the time, Hill was serving a life prison sentence for the 1986 shooting death of his 18-year-old girlfriend, Myra Sylvia Wright.

In 2013, Hill’s attorneys filed motions in the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution in two other cases in which he claims that experts have recently reversed their positions and now conclude Hill is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.

Hill’s attorneys are scheduled to present his case at 10 a.m. At issue in the high-profile death penalty case is the constitutionality of a new Georgia statue that makes information about the suppliers and manufactures of pentobarbital, a drug used in executions.

On July 18, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan issued a stay of execution for Hill, to review the state’s right to declare that information a “state secret.” In granting the state’s application to appeal, the high court has asked the parties to address four questions:

— Is the case moot since the current supply of pentobarbital has expired and it is unclear how the state would obtain a new supply?

— Did the Fulton County Superior Court have the authority to stay Hill’s execution?

— Could the whole issue of the statue’s constitutionality be avoided if Hill were given a sample of the drug for testing or given other information the statue does not prohibit?

— Did Judge Tusan err by issuing he stay based on Hill’s challenge of the statue’s constitutionality?