AFRICANGLOBE – The lawyers for Warren Lee Hill Jr a mentally disabled man currently on death row are down to their final attempt to save him from his scheduled execution next week.
Mr. Hill’s defense team will appeal to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to halt the execution, arguing that putting him to death is an inhumane punishment because of his mental limitations.
Hill has an IQ of around 70, which places him inside the range of mental retardation. According to Hill’s lawyer Brian Kammer, his mental capacity peaked at the development of a sixth-grader.
“It is morally wrong to execute someone who has been found more likely than not to be mentally retarded. It’s kind of a tragedy,” Kammer said.
Hill was ordered to be put to death by lethal injection for murdering his sleeping prison cellmate with a board in 1990. He was already serving a life sentence for shooting his girlfriend 11 times in 1986.
Two years after the murder Georgia outlawed the death penalty for people with mental retardation, but only if the defendant must has proven retardation beyond a reasonable doubt. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Georgia is the only state with such a heavy burden of proof.
Hill’s lawyers thought they had proved his mental retardation, but the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the ruling in 2003, and the U.S Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled against Hill in November 2011.
Since the year 2000, the board has commuted the death sentence of four inmates while denying 27 inmates who were executed. Clemency hearings before the board’s five members are held in private.
Since 1976, Georgia has executed 52 people, the seventh highest total in the nation. (Texas far outpaces the rest of the country with 482 since 1976.) The latest Georgia execution was Troy Davis, who was put to death by lethal injection last September although seven of the nine witnesses who had identified him as the killer in 1989 of police officer Mark MacPhail later recanted their testimony.