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Warren Lee Hill execution halted amid lethal injection concerns

7:57 PM, Jul 15, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA (AP) - A Fulton County judge has temporarily stayed a scheduled execution Monday after the inmate's attorneys raised questions about a law prohibiting the release of information involving Georgia's execution drug supply.

This isn't the first time Warren Lee Hill's execution has been halted because of a challenge to the state's execution method. Last July, his execution was put on hold pending a challenge to the state's plan to change from a three-drug process to a single dose of pentobarbital.

RELATED | Protesters rally to postpone Hill execution

The state Supreme Court later cleared the way for the execution, although it was halted anew so courts could consider claims that Hill is mentally disabled. That stay was lifted in April and the state rescheduled the execution for Monday.

The case has received international attention because disability groups and activists alike have called into question the state's position that Hill is not intellectually disabled.  Hill has scored in the 70's on several IQ tests.  70 is the generally accepted score for an intellectual disability.  

Court documents cite Hill's successful Navy career as a reason he may not be intellectually disabled.  They also point to the fact that hill never called into question is mentally faculties until years after the trial and appeal process.  Judges continually ruled his lawyers hadn't proved beyond a reasonable doubt he was intellectually disabled.  

Hill's supporters have pointed to the fact that Georgia has the most stringent standards in the country for proving a mental disability.  "Beyond a reasonable doubt."  They vow to change the law if Hill's execution goes through.  

For now, the execution is halted due to the injection drug concerns.  Hill's attorney, Brian Kammer released a statement Monday afternoon.

"We are relieved that the Superior Court of Fulton County has stayed the execution of Warren Hill, a man with mental retardation who has an undisputed I.Q. of 70. Today, the Court found that more time is needed to explore Mr. Hill's complaint, which raises serious concerns about the extreme secrecy surrounding the execution process in Georgia, and the new Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, which took effect one day before Georgia issued a death warrant for Mr. Hill.

At this time, there is far too much we do not know about how the state intends to proceed in this, the most extreme act a government can take against a citizen.

Ultimately, we are hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will hear Mr. Hill's pending Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, and will have the opportunity to consider the important new evidence in this case, that there is unanimous consensus among all the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill, including three who previously testified for the state, that he is a person with mental retardation, and thus ineligible for the death penalty."

The stay is temporary -- a new hearing has been scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday to discuss the lethal injection issue.

Hill was condemned for the 1990 killing of a fellow inmate when he was already serving a life sentence for the 1986 killing of his girlfriend.  

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