Georgia to Execute 'Retarded' Inmate Warren Hill

The state may execute a mentally disabled inmate, despite a Supreme Court ruling against the practice.

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Warren Hill (Georgia Department of Corrections)

In Georgia, death-row prisoner Warren Hill is scheduled for execution on Wednesday but there's a snag in the plan -- his lawyers argue that he is mentally disabled. The Supreme Court passed a ruling, according to the Guardian, that bans the death sentence for inmates with learning difficulties. However, in the Peach State, an inmate must prove his mental incapacity "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"We are heading into a constitutional crisis," Hill's lawyer, Brian Kammer, said. "The supreme court banned executions of mentally retarded prisoners, but here we are in Georgia about to execute a man who is mentally retarded."

Hill, 52, was sentenced to death for killing a fellow prisoner, Joseph Handspike, in 1990. At the time he was already serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend, Myra Wright ...

Paradoxically, Georgia was the first state in America to ban executions of people with learning disabilities. The move was forced by a massive public outcry after the execution in 1986 of Jerome Bowden, who days before he died was tested and found to have the mental capacity of a 12-year-old.

But in passing the ban in 1988, Georgia adopted the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard that remains to this day and now holds Hill's fate in the balance.

Read more at the Guardian.

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