Update: Warren Lee Hill, 54, was executed Tuesday night by the state of Georgia after The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal to halt his death by lethal injection, the Associated Press reported. Hill’s lawyers had argued he was “intellectually disabled” and thus not eligible for execution.
A two-time killer is waiting to hear if the U.S. Supreme Court will stop his Tuesday night execution, which is being used to challenge the state’s uniquely strict standard for intellectual disability. Warren Lee Hill’s lawyers claim the 54-year-old has the mental capacity of a child — but the state says that hasn’t been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as it requires. Early Tuesday, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a clemency request.
“Mr. Hill’s disability means that he has the emotional and cognitive functioning of an 11-year-old boy,” Hill’s lawyer, Brian Kammer, said after the parole board ruling. “That is why the Supreme Court has outlawed the execution of the intellectually disabled.”
Hill’s lawyers are hoping a Supreme Court ruling last year on Florida’s standard for disability can be used to show that Georgia’s standards is unconstitutional. A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Hill’s case is not affected by the Florida ruling, which faulted the state for a strict IQ cutoff. One judge dissented, writing that he believes Georgia’a standard “creates an unacceptable risk” an intellectually disabled inmate will be put to death.
Hill was sentenced to death for the fatal beating of a fellow inmate in 1990. He was already serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend five years earlier. His lethal injection was first scheduled in 2012 and has been postponed three times for various appeals.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to Oklahoma’s execution drugs that could affect lethal injections in other states — but Georgia uses a different chemical, and Hill is not expected to get a reprieve on those grounds.
Oklahoma has asked the court to delay three impending executions until it makes a ruling on the drug combo.
Meanwhile, a Texas appeals court issued a stay of execution for a death-row inmate tied to five murders. Garcia Glen White’s lawyers had argued that cocaine use may have mentally impaired him, calling into question his decision to to ask for a lawyer while he was being interrogated. The defense also cited DNA testing that court suggest another suspect at the crime scene. The court did not say why it was granting White a reprieve.