Georgia Appeals Execution Stay for Man With 70 IQ
ATLANTA—Georgia’s attorney general asked the State Supreme Court to revoke the current stay of execution for Warren Lee Hill on Friday, July 26.
Judge Gail Tusan had extended the stay of execution for Hill on July 18.
The drug that would have been used to kill him will expire in early August. The source of that drug won him his latest reprieve.
European pharmacies refuse to export pentobarbital the U.S. because it is used to execute people. Georgia passed an unusual law that treats the source of drugs for lethal injections as a state secret. Anonymous, out-of-state compounding pharmacies supply it. After passing the law, Georgia set a date to execute Hill.
Hill’s lawyers had asked the court to halt his execution because of the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act. They said he had a right to know if the compounded pentobarbitol would be pure and effective, or if it would cause him to suffer, and violate his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.
Tusan found that the state’s drug secrecy law was unconstitutionally vague.
“The State does not yet know if, and where, it will acquire the next supply of pentobarbital for use in this execution. Thus, the State must secure another execution order from the sentencing court and obtain a new supply of pentobarbital in order to reschedule Hill’s execution. Hill is under no threat of immediate execution,” wrote State Attorney General Sam Olens in his appeal.
Hill’s death warrant has expired. The state would have to start his execution process again, but the Supreme Court is set to reconsider his case on Sept. 30.
Hill is intellectually disabled, and the Supreme Court will consider whether Georgia should allow new evidence about that. He murdered two people, but his supporters argue that because of his intellectual limitation, he should have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to a statement from Brian Evans, director of Amnesty International USA’s Abolish the Death Penalty campaign, “Beyond these important issues, Warren Hill has been determined to be ‘mentally retarded’ and thus his execution would have been unconstitutional, as the U.S. Supreme Court banned such executions in 2002.”