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Georgia court delays Warren Hill execution

A judge for Georgia's Fulton County Superior Court [official website] on Monday stayed the execution of death row inmate Warren Lee Hill [JURIST news archive], which was scheduled for 7:00 PM that night. Hill's attorney, Brian Kammer, issued a statement [CNN report] Monday afternoon announcing that the court had decided to delay the execution in order to hold a briefing on Thursday to discuss whether the process surrounding Hill's execution violates the state's Lethal Injection Secrecy Act [HB 122 materials]. Kammer has also challenged Hill's execution on the grounds that his IQ, 70, makes him mentally disabled and, therefore, his execution would be cruel and unusual punishment based on the 2002 US Supreme Court decision Atkins v. Virginia [opinion], but the US Supreme Court [official website] has not yet addressed his motion [text, PDF] for stay of execution until the court resolves his pending petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Hill was sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of a fellow inmate while serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend in 1986, but his execution has been stayed several times. In February the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Court of Appeals of Georgia [official websites] issued a stay [JURIST report] on his execution minutes before it was scheduled to take place. The US Supreme Court had denied [JURIST report] a motion for stay of execution and petition for certiorari hours before the Eleventh Circuit granted its stay. The Eleventh Circuit lifted the stay [JURIST report] in April because it determined that the issue of mental retardation had already been presented and there was no issue as to his guilt or innocence on review. Last July the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] also granted a stay [JURIST report] on procedural grounds 90 minutes before Hill was scheduled to be executed. In a separate order, however, the same court denied his request to appeal a lower court ruling that he had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt [JURIST report] that he is mentally disabled.

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