The state of Georgia is set to execute a “mentally retarded” inmate next week. Warren Lee Hill, who reportedly has an IQ of 70, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection of February 19 at 7 pm.
Hill was sentenced to the death penalty for the 1990 murder of a fellow inmate. Hill was originally serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend.
In 2002, Hill was determined to be “mentally retarded” by “a preponderance of the evidence.” According to Georgia law, in order to avoid execution “mental retardation” must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
As reported by Think Progress, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Sears argues that it is nearly impossible to determine intellectual disability “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and the wording of the law may lead to wrongful executions:
“Despite the federal ban on executing the mentally retarded, Georgia’s statute, and the majority decision upholding it, do not prohibit the state from executing mentally retarded people. To the contrary, the State may still execute people who are in all probability mentally retarded. The State may execute people who are more than likely mentally retarded. The State may even execute people who are almost certainly mentally retarded.”
Several organizations and individuals have plead for Hill’s clemency, including the family of the second victim, several of the original jurors, civil rights groups, and former President Jimmy Carter.
As reported by The Guardian, Kammer states that a “constitutional crisis” could arise if his client is executed:
“The supreme court banned executions of mentally retarded prisoners, but here we are in Georgia about to execute a man who is mentally retarded.
“This case highlights the stark injustice in Georgia’s capital punishment system. The question is, does a supreme court ruling count for anything in this state, or is it a paper tiger?”
Kammer contends that his client does not deserve to be executed. Hill was reportedly reacting to physical and sexual abuse when he murdered his fellow inmate. Kammer states that, due to his client’s developmental disability, he was unable to react appropriately to the harassment.