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‘Intellectually Disabled’ Man to be Executed in Georgia
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Warren Lee Hill is scheduled to be executed Tuesday night.

Summary: Warren Lee Hill, who has an IQ of 70, is set to be executed Tuesday night in Georgia.

CNN reports that Warren Lee Hill, a twice-convicted murder, is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday night in the state of Georgia. Both human rights groups and legal advocates argue that his intellectual disability should exempt Hill from the death penalty. These groups have pleaded for Hill’s life to be spared.


According to Brian Kammer, Hill’s lawyer, Hill’s IQ is around 70, and he has “the emotional capacity of a young boy.” NBC News adds that Hill is 54 years old, but acts more like an 11-year-old boy.

According to a 2002 Virginia case that traveled to the Supreme Court of the United States, the execution of intellectually disabled persons is a violation of the Eighth Amendment—specifically, its ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

However, the case also stated that the individual states are able to define intellectual disability. In the state of Georgia, mental impairment must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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According to Kammer, it’s “the strictest standard in any jurisdiction in the nation.”

Two weeks ago, Georgia carried out the execution of Andrew Brannan. Brannan was a Vietnam War vet who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Brannan was convicted for the 1998 killing of Laurens County Deputy Kyle Dinkheller. Kammer represented Brannan as well.

A judge in California ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

Kammer has argued that in any other state, Hill would instead serve a life sentence for his crimes. In 1990, Hill was sentenced to the death penalty for killing Joseph Handspike, a fellow prison inmate. Hill beat Handspike to death with a board studded with nails. Hill had already been sentenced to life in prison for shooting his girlfriend, Myra Wright, to death in 1985.

Torin Togut, the president of the Arc of Georgia, a nonprofit that advocates for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said in a statement, “We acknowledge that Mr. Hill should be held accountable for his actions and behavior. However, it is our contention that Mr. Hill, who has an intellectual disability, should not be subject to capital punishment.”

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Former President Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn, the Georgia NAACP, and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities also support Hill.

Hill’s family, as well as former jurors, have also voiced their support for sparing Hill from the death penalty. Former jurors explained that they were not given the option to sentence Hill to life without parole at the time of the trial.

Last year, the execution of a New Orleans man was delayed due to mental illness.

According to Kammer, seven doctors have stated that Hill is intellectually disabled. Although three doctors initially said that Hill did not meet Georgia’s standard, they have since issued affidavits explaining that they were rushed at the time of his initial exam and that Hill does meet the “intellectually disabled” standard in Georgia.

However, in prior clemency hearings, state attorneys pointed out that Hill served in the Navy, had a job, and handled his own finances before he killed his girlfriend. They argued that these events showed that Hill did not meet the legal standard for “intellectually disabled,” although he does have a low IQ.

However, Kammer argued that simply because Hill was “self-sufficient” does not support his execution.

A lawsuit was filed after Clayton Lockett’s lethal injection took close to an hour to cause his death.

Several letters that supported Hill’s clemency cited a Supreme Court decision from last year that reversed a Florida law that implemented “unscientific standards for determining intellectual disability” for death row inmates.

Attorneys attempted to use this decision to prevent the execution of Robert Wayne Holsey, who was sentenced to death for murdering a local sheriff’s deputy. Holsey also had an IQ of 70, but was put to death in December.

On Monday, Hill’s case was presented to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board said it “will make a decision prior to the scheduled execution,” which is currently set for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

Hill’s execution was previously scheduled for July 15, 2013 by lethal injection, but was postponed due to a challenge against Georgia’s Lethal Injections Secrecy Act, Wikipedia notes.

Source: CNN

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