Court Halts Execution In Final Hours For Warren Hill

News

Warren Lee Hill, whose defenders say he is mentally disabled, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday for the 1990 killing of Joseph Handspike. Pictured: Warren Hill with his sister Peggy Williams, and his nephew.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ATLANTA (CNN) – Twice-convicted killer Warren Lee Hill was granted final-hour stays of execution on Tuesday, his attorney said.

The stays came from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Georgia Court of Appeals.

“I think we were within about a half hour of the execution,” said Brian Kammer, an attorney for Hill, whose supporters say is mentally disabled.

The Georgia Court of Appeals acted on a appeal of a challenge to the way the prison handles the lethal injection drugs used in executions, while the federal appeals court issued a stay “ordering a further briefing on the issue of mental retardation,” Kammer said.

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution, as did the state Supreme Court, while the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles similarly denied a request for clemency.

The execution had been scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at a state prison in Jackson, about 45 miles south of Atlanta.

Hill was sentenced to death for the 1990 killing of Joseph Handspike, another inmate in a Georgia state prison.

He was convicted of beating Handspike to death with a nail-studded board while serving a life sentence in the 1985 killing of his girlfriend, Myra Wright.

His lawyers have argued that Hill’s IQ of 70 means he should be spared under a 2002 decision that barred the execution of the mentally disabled. But a string of state courts has said Hill doesn’t qualify under Georgia law, which requires inmates to prove mental impairment “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“This is the strictest standard in any jurisdiction in the nation. Even Warren Hill, a man with an IQ of 70 who is diagnosed as mentally retarded by every doctor who has examined him, found it impossible to meet this standard of proof,” Kammer said.

Handspike’s family has called for the execution to be called off. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities also weighed in against the execution, stating, “No other state risks the lives of those with developmental disabilities to this extreme.”

Three doctors who examined Hill for the state “have now revised their opinions and find that Mr. Hill does meet the criteria for mental retardation,” his lawyers argued in court papers.

But lawyers for the state have said that Hill served in the Navy, held a job and managed his money before Wright’s killing — signs that he didn’t necessarily meet the legal standard for retardation, even though he has a low IQ.

Hill had previously been scheduled for execution in July, but the state Supreme Court halted the execution on procedural grounds.

Georgia has executed 52 men since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. There are currently 94 men and one woman under death sentence in the state.

From Tom Watkins and Matt Smith

CNN’s Dana Ford, Bill Mears and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News