US state executes killer despite disability claim

January 28, 2015 4:47 am
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The Supreme Court turned down the final appeal from lawyers of Warren Hill, who argued he shouldn't be executed because he was intellectually disabled/AFP
The Supreme Court turned down the final appeal from lawyers of Warren Hill, who argued he shouldn’t be executed because he was intellectually disabled/AFP
WASHINGTON, United States, Jan 28 – The US state of Georgia executed a double killer Tuesday whose lawyers said he was intellectually disabled, after last-minute pleas for his life were thrown out.

The Supreme Court turned down the final appeal from lawyers of Warren Hill, 54, who was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 7:55 pm (0055 GMT), a prison spokeswoman said.

The court voted 7-2 not to take up the petition arguing Hill shouldn’t be executed because he was intellectually disabled.

Hill, whose advocates say he had an IQ of 70, was sentenced to death after killing a fellow inmate with a nail-studded board in 1990 while serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend.

A number of experts and state doctors had testified to Hill’s mental disability.

The European Union, lawyers and doctors – as well as public figures including former US president Jimmy Carter – had also called for mercy for Hill.

“This execution is an abomination,” Hill’s attorney Brian Kammer said after the Supreme Court decision that condemned his client.

“Today, the court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia.

“The memory of Mr. Hill’s illegal execution will live on as a moral stain on the people of this state and on the courts that allowed this to happen.”

Execution of intellectually disabled people was prohibited by the top court in a 1986 decision under the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

But the court left the interpretation of what “intellectually disabled” means to the states.

Georgia has one of the strictest definitions of the term, requiring defence attorneys to prove without a reasonable doubt that a defendant is intellectually disabled to be spared capital punishment.

Hill had his execution delayed several times before for a variety of appeals.

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