Court denies Hill’s bid to halt execution

posted Apr 23, 2013, 10:11 AM by GFADP staff

Court denies Hill’s bid to halt execution



Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The federal appeals court in Atlanta has denied Warren Hill’s bid to halt his execution on grounds he is mentally retarded.

By a 2-1 vote, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Hill’s claim challenged only his eligibility for a death sentence and not whether he is guilty of murder. For this reason, Hill cannot clear the narrow “actual innocence” exception that allows capital inmates to raise new claims after prior appeals had been exhausted, Judge Frank Hull wrote.

Judge Rosemary Barkett issued a stinging dissent.

“There is no question that Georgia will be executing a mentally retarded man because all seven mental health experts who have ever evaluated Hill, both the state’s and Hill’s, now unanimously agree that he is mentally retarded.”

Hull was joined by Judge Stanley Marcus, who joined Barkett in February to halt Hill’s execution with less than an hour to spare. Hill had already been given a sedative to prepare for his lethal injection.

Hill was sentenced to death for killing Joseph Handspike, an inmate serving a life sentence in the same southwest Georgia prison where Hill was incarcerated. Hill bludgeoned Handspike to death with a nail-studded wooden board as Handspike lay in his bed.

At the time, Hill was already serving a life term for another murder; he had killed his 18-year-old girlfriend, Myra Wright, by shooting her 11 times in 1986.