Georgia Inmate’s Impending Execution Stirs Controversy
Ten months after the Troy Davis execution turned eyes on Georgia, another death-row case in the state is stirring debate.
Convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill is slated to die by lethal injection on Monday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. No one is debating whether Hill, 52, beat his prison cellmate to death in 1990 with a board imbedded with nails. But Hill’s IQ is 70 — within the range of mental retardation. Advocates for the mentally disabled and death penalty opponents say that means he should not be executed.
“I think in Hill’s case, this is really a person who by all law and psychiatric investigation is ineligible for the death penalty,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based organization that analyzes capital punishment issues.
On July 13, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Hill and, as is customary for the panel, did not give a reason. Hill’s lawyer, Brian Kammer, then filed a petition for a rehearing and a motion for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court. Activists are planning vigils around the state for the day of the execution, said Laura Moye, director of Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. And United Nations Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns, a human rights specialist, is calling on Georgia to halt the execution.
It is the first death-row case in Georgia to draw such attention since the September execution of convicted murderer Davis, who claimed innocence and whose case generated debate worldwide.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court banned executions of the mentally retarded, calling such deaths unconstitutionally “cruel and unusual.” But the court also said states should decide if a convict is mentally retarded.