Prisoner on death row appeals to Ga. Supreme Court

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ATLANTA — A lawyer for a Georgia prison inmate set to be executed next week appealed Friday to the state’s highest court.

Brian Kammer asked the Supreme Court of Georgia to halt the execution of Warren Lee Hill and overturn a state court’s refusal to reconsider Hill’s case. Similar requests are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Hill’s execution is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

Kammer had filed a motion earlier this week asking a Butts County Superior Court judge to reconsider the case. The judge ruled Thursday that the evidence indicates beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill has an IQ of 70.

The judge ruled that Hill meets the overall criteria for mental retardation by a preponderance of the evidence. Yet he refused to block Hill’s execution because a “preponderance of evidence” is not sufficient to prove mental disability under Georgia law.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of mentally disabled offenders is unconstitutional.

Georgia has the strictest standard in the country for prisoners to prove they are mentally disabled – they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt they are mentally disabled.

“The court’s decision illuminates the harsh injustice of this case: that a man found mentally retarded will nevertheless be executed in Georgia,” Kammer said Friday.

The state has argued that Hill’s defense has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill is mentally disabled.

Hill was serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend when he killed a fellow inmate in 1990. A jury convicted Hill of murder in the inmate’s slaying and sentenced him to death.

His execution was originally set for Wednesday, but it was delayed until Monday after the state announced this week that it was switching its lethal injection procedure immediately to a single-drug method instead of its previous three-drug combination.


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