CRIME
07/15/2013 04:19 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2013

Warren Hill Execution: 'Mentally Disabled' Georgia Inmate Set To Be Put To Death Monday Night

AP

The scheduled execution of Georgia death row inmate Warren Hill has been stayed.

The Atlantic reports that "A state court trial judge this afternoon issued a temporary stay blocking tonight's scheduled execution so she could hold another hearing on this topic on Thursday, July 18th.

The death row inmate was previously scheduled to be executed in February, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals intervened. In April, the same court lifted the stay.

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The Atlantic reports that Hill's lawyers are now arguing that a newly passed law violates Hill's constitutional rights:

Hill's attorneys allege that a brand new Georgia statute, candidly called the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, violates Hill's constitutional rights under both federal and state law because it purposely shields from judicial review the manner by which the drugs to be used in his execution were manufactured and obtained.

The Associated Press reports that Hill was convicted of the 1990 killing of fellow inmate, Joseph Handspike, who was killed with a "nail-studded" board while he slept.

Hill was in prison at the time for killing his girlfriend, Myra Wright.

But, as American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero said in a press release, "This case is highly unusual in that no state expert disputes that Mr. Hill falls within the definition of intellectual disability. It is thus a constitutional and moral imperative that Mr. Hill's execution be stayed."

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not execute "mentally retarded" inmates because such action constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

But the court left it to the states to decide how to determine whether a defendant was intellectually disabled. Georgia, as the Atlantic previously reported, has the toughest standard in the country, requiring inmates to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are mentally handicapped. The state argues Hill has not met this burden of proof.

The state-appointed experts who evaluated Hill initially said he did not qualify as mentally disabled. But, according to the Atlantic, all of them have since come around to the opposite conclusion.

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