Warren Hill: Georgia Set To Execute Mentally Retarded Man

Warren Hill has been found to be mentally retarded by a Georgia court, but the state is still moving forward with plans to execute the man for two murders he committed. Hill, who is scheduled to be executed next week, is desperately trying to reverse the ruling and made a clemency appeal to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Friday.

The board listened to his appeal but has not yet issued a ruling, Reuters reported. His lawyers have already tried a series of unsuccessful appeals, trying to stop the execution because Hill suffers from mental retardation.

Georgia, already under heat for executing Troy Davis last year, a man many thought was innocent, was actually the first state in the nation to ban executing people deemed mentally retarded. But the state is also known for having very tough standards for defining mental retardation and require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“I don’t know of any other state that puts the burden on the defendant to show (retardation) beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard that there is in the judicial system,” Richard Dieter, executive director of the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center, told Reuters.

Georgia defines mental retardation has having a score of 70 or below on intelligence tests. Hill scored a 69 on one test and in the 70s in others he was given, Reuters reported. The state of Georgia is arguing that Hill has been able to perform routine tasks, like serving in the Navy and saving money to buy cars, so his execution should move forward.

Hill’s attorney said even people who are mildly mentally retarded can perform some normal functions.

Warren Hill is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the two murders he committed. In 1986 he was convicted of shooting his girlfriend, and in August 1990 he beat a fellow prisoner to death as the man slept. Hill reportedly was under enormous stress at the time of the second murder, living in a shared prison dormitory and coming under physical and sexual abuse from other inmates.

Neither jury was told that Hill had an IQ of close to 70 or that came from a violent home, The Guardian reported.

In November 2002 a court deemed Hill “mentally retarded,” a label for learning disabilities.

“We are heading into a constitutional crisis,” Hill’s lawyer, Brian Kammer, told The Guardian. “The supreme court banned executions of mentally retarded prisoners, but here we are in Georgia about to execute a man who is mentally retarded.”

Warren Hill’s appeal has gained the support of many prominent people and groups in Georgia, including former president Jimmy Carter. Disability groups have also spoken out against Hill’s execution.