Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Georgia: No Mercy?

Warren Lee Hill shot his 18 year old girlfriend eleven times and killed her, in 1985. There followed a life-sentence. Four years later later, in prison, Hill murdered his cellmate with a board and nails. Now he is set to be executed in Georgia.

"Human rights groups" and other say his "intellectual disability" disqualify him from execution. They note that Lee has an IQ of "approximately 70" and the "emotional capacity of a young boy." The Supreme Court, of course, has ruled that executing intellectually disabled individuals violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The hitch that the Court's decision "allows states to define intellectual disability." CNN reports that Georgia operationalizes the concept as proof of mental impairment "beyond a reasonable doubt." This is said to be the "strictest standard in any jurisdiction in the nation." According to CNN:
... Hill also has the support of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Georgia NAACP and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter. The victim's family and former jurors have also expressed support for mercy in Hill's case, saying they weren't given the option of life without parole when sentencing him to death. Kammer said seven doctors agree that his client is intellectually disabled, including three doctors for the state who initially evaluated Hill and said he didn't meet Georgia's standard. Kammer said those doctors have since signed an affidavit admitting they felt rushed during Hill's examination and now believe he does meet the standard for "intellectually disabled." 
Hill's case was presented before the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles which says it will "make a decision prior to the scheduled execution," which is set for 7 p.m. tonight. See story here.

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