Ga. Inmate Granted Stay 30 Minutes Before Execution
Warren Lee Hill has been deemed mentally retarded
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2013 7:32 AM CST
This undated prison photo released on Thursday, July 12, 2012 by the Georgia Department of Corrections shows convicted murderer Warren L. Hill.   (AP Photo/Georgia Department of Corrections)

(Newser) – It doesn't get much more down-to-the-wire than this: Warren Hill had already taken an Ativan to calm himself for his imminent death last night. But the convicted Georgia murderer was granted a stay of execution just 30 minutes before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection, the Guardian reports. Hill, 53, also saw a scheduled execution halted last year, but this time around things are different: Now every medical expert who has evaluated him agrees he is mentally retarded, including three experts who initially refused to diagnose him as such in 2000. They recanted last week, admitting their work had been sloppy. That would seem to satisfy Georgia's near-impossible and unusual requirement that a prisoner's mental retardation be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Still, earlier in the day, the state parole board, the Supreme Court of Georgia, and the US Supreme Court all declined to stop the execution. It was the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals whose judges agreed to further investigate Hill's mental status. Writing for the Atlantic, Andrew Cohen hopes this case reaches the high court. That's because Hill "presents the justices with an opportunity to strengthen—to save, really—the letter and the spirit" of their 2002 ruling that established that mentally retarded prisoners should not be executed, he writes. "In that case, they tried to be all things to all people. It was a mistake. Even as they announced a national standard, the justices announced that states could weasel out of the new rule by identifying for themselves who is and who is not mentally retarded."

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Showing 3 of 63 comments
Marelicia
Feb 20, 2013 10:42 PM CST
Premeditated Murder of convicted killers by the State, as a punishment for murder, is not cruel and unusual pinishment. Premeditated Murder by the State is Justice for the victims.
BrushMan
Feb 20, 2013 3:32 PM CST
Premeditated murder is a crime, whether done by an individual or the state.
Marelicia
Feb 20, 2013 2:41 PM CST
It appears that "Georgia passed a law in 1988 prohibiting the execution of mentally disabled death row inmates, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of mentally disabled offenders is unconstitutional." It is a goofy law on its face and should not be applied retroactively. It seems that Warren Hill never was mentally retarded in 1986 or 2000 at the time of his 2 killings. So, it shouldn't matter that Hill is deemed by so-called experts or faking to be mentally retarded in 2013. What is really unconstitutional is that Hill was entitled to a Speedy and Public Trial and Speedy Public Execution in 1986 or 1990 the latest. Amendment VI. Hill is a serial killer who had shot his girlfriend to death 11 times in 1986, and then murdered a fellow inmate Joseph Handspike with a nail studded board as Handspike slept in 1990. Had Hill been quickly, constitutionally executed, say in 1986, as guaranteed by the constitution, Inmate Handspike would still be alive and Hill would not be still on death row in 2013. It seems that GA law and US Supreme Court ruling are goofy and unconstitutional on their faces..