Free Press Journal

US state executes prisoner with reported mental disability


Atlanta: The US state of Georgia has executed Warren Hill, a prisoner with reported intellectual disabilities who was sentenced to death for the murder of his cellmate in 1990.

Hill, a 54-year-old African-American, was executed with a lethal injection at Jackson prison Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Minutes before the execution, the US Supreme Court denied a stay of execution requested by the defence on grounds of Hill’s intellectual disability.

“Today, the court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia,” said Hill’s lawyer, Brian Kammer.

“Georgia has been allowed to execute an unquestionably intellectually disabled man, Warren Hill, in direct contravention of the Court’s clear precedent prohibiting such cruelty,” said Kammer.

Kammer also referred to a ruling by the Supreme Court in 2002 which established that executing people with intellectual disabilities violated a constitutional ban contained in the Eighth Amendment on cruel and unusual punishment.

At the same time, the Supreme Court let the states decide whether or not the prisoners are disabled.

In the case of Hill, the State of Georgia considered him to be suitable to receive a lethal injection, while his defence argued that his IQ was that of a child.  According to Kammer, seven doctors confirmed his intellectual disability.

Hill also had the support of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and of former president Jimmy Carter.

In 1986, Hill killed his girlfriend, Myra Wright, 18, shooting her 11 times for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.  While he was serving his sentence, in 1990, Hill stabbed his cellmate and in a new trial was sentenced to death.

Hill was the second prisoner executed in Georgia this year and the 57th since the death penalty was reinstated in the US in 1976.  Meanwhile, Texas and Oklahoma are planning to carry out three executions between Wednesday and Thursday.