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    1. #1

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      Warren Lee Hill, Jr. - Georgia Execution - January 27, 2015





      Summary of Offense:

      Hill was sentenced to death in September 1991 in Lee County for beating to death fellow inmate Joseph Handspike, 34, with a nail-embedded board on August 17, 1990. At the time, Mr. Hill was serving time for a 1985 murder.

    2. #2

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      The granting of Hill's federal habeas petition was reversed and remanded by the Eleventh Circuit under Atkins on June 18, 2010.

      Opinion is here:

      http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200815444.pdf

    3. #3

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      The Eleventh Circuit will hear the case on Hill en banc in an order issued today.

      Order is here:

      http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinion...0815444enb.pdf

    4. #4
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      Court considers death-penalty standard for mental retardation claims

      Warren Hill sits on Georgia's death row, even though a state court judge has found him mentally retarded, which the nation's highest court says bars him from execution.

      Hill's problem is that he was found to be mentally retarded under the lowest legal threshold but not the toughest -- beyond a reasonable doubt. Even though Georgia became the 1st state in the country over 20 years ago to ban executions of mentally retarded people, it is now the only state that sets the highest barrier for defendants raising such claims to escape execution.

      On Tuesday, Hill's lawyer told the federal appeals court in Atlanta that instead of protecting the mentally retarded from execution, Georgia has done just the opposite. By erecting such a stringent burden of proof, inmates who are erroneously found not to be mentally retarded are going to be put to death, Mark Olive said.

      The U.S. Supreme Court did not give states "carte blanche authority" to impose barriers that are impossible to clear, he said.

      During lively arguments in a packed courtroom, a number of judges seemed to agree.

      Among states with the death penalty, 22 require defendants raising mental retardation claims to prove it by the lowest threshold, a preponderance of the evidence. Four states have adopted a tougher test, the clear and convincing evidence standard. Three states have not set a burden of proof.

      The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not issue an immediate ruling. About 10 Georgia death-row inmates who failed to prove mental retardation beyond a reasonable doubt could receive new hearings if the court finds Georgia's standard unconstitutional.

      In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mentally retarded individuals, because of their disabilities in reasoning, judgment and self control, do not act with the same level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct.

      State attorney Beth Burton refused to concede the possibility that mentally retarded inmates will be executed in Georgia. She told the court that when the U.S. Supreme Court banned the execution of the mentally retarded, it left it up to the states to decide how to evaluate retardation claims.

      This prompted questions from judges who wondered whether it would be acceptable if Georgia made it all but impossible for a defendant to prevail in a mental retardation claim.

      What about a law that says only defendants with IQs below 30 can be found to be mentally retarded, asked Judge Stanley Marcus. An IQ of about 70 is generally considered to be the upper limit for a diagnosis of mental retardation.

      "I think they could do that," Burton responded.

      What if the state required defendants to prove retardation beyond a shadow of a doubt, Judge Charles Wilson asked. Would that make a difference?

      "I can't say that it would, as crazy as that sounds," Burton replied, noting the U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately overturn such a law.

      So as long as there is no Supreme Court decision that forbids a certain way of evaluating the claims, Georgia could set the burden so high no one could ever prove they were mentally retarded, Wilson said.

      This prompted Judge J.L. Edmondson to wonder what the state planned to do with Hill, noting he had been found to be mentally retarded.

      "If you get the chance, is Georgia going to execute this man?" he asked.

      "Yes," Burton replied.

      Hill sits on death row for bludgeoning a fellow inmate to death with a nail-studded board in 1990. At the time, he was serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend.

      On appeal, Hill's lawyers claimed he was mentally retarded, but Superior Court Judge John Allen of Columbus found Hill could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. After the U.S. Supreme Court banned the execution of the mentally retarded in 2002, Allen reconsidered his initial decision. Allen subsequently found Hill had proven by a preponderance of the evidence -- more likely than not -- that he was mildly mentally retarded. The judge also found the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard unconstitutional.

      The Georgia Supreme Court subsequently overturned Allen in a ruling that was under close scrutiny during Tuesday's arguments.

      Judge Frank Hull, joined by a number of her 11th Circuit colleagues, said that the state Supreme Court ruling should stand. In more than 200 years, she noted, the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled that a burden-of-proof standard violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

      (Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    5. #5
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      WARREN LEE HILL, JR., VERSUS CARL HUMPHREY

      Court upholds tough standard of proof for death-row inmates

      A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld Georgia's tough burden of proof required of death-penalty defendants seeking to prove they are mentally disabled and not eligible for execution.

      The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision means that Georgia remains the only state in the country that sets the highest barrier for defendants raising such claims to escape execution.

      Judge Frank Hull, writing for the majority, noted that when the U.S. Supreme Court barred the execution of the mentally disabled in 2002, the high court left it up to individual states to develop the guidelines for determining who is mentally disabled.

      "If the standard of proof Georgia has adopted for claims of mental retardation is to be declared unconstitutional, it must be done by the Supreme Court," Hull wrote.

      The ruling sparked vigorous dissents from judges who said the heightened burden of proof will mean defendants who are mentally disabled are at risk of being executed.

      "This utterly one-sided risk of error is all the more intolerable when the individual right at stake is a question of life or death," Judge Rosemary Barkett wrote.

      The court issued its ruling in the case involving Warren Hill, who was found by a state court judge to be mentally disabled, but under the lowest legal threshold, not the toughest.

      Hill sits on death row for bludgeoning a fellow inmate to death with a nail-studded board in 1990. At the time, he was serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend.

      http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/cour...d-1237636.html

    6. #6
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      In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Hill's petition writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was DENIED.

      Expect an execution date.
      An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    7. #7
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      State sets execution for man who killed prison inmate

      The state of Georgia has scheduled the execution of Warren Hill, who sits on death row even though a state court judge had found him mentally disabled.

      Lee County Superior Court Judge George Peagler Jr. on Monday signed a death warrant that calls for Hill to be put to death by lethal injection during a one-week period beginning at noon on July 18. The Department of Corrections is soon expected to set the date.

      Hill is on death row for bludgeoning fellow inmate Joseph Handspike to death with a nail-studded board in 1990. At the time, Hill was serving a life sentence at the Lee Correctional Institution for killing his girlfriend.

      The U.S. Supreme Court has barred executions of the mentally disabled, but Hill's problem is that he was found to be so under the lowest legal threshold by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Georgia is the only state in the country that sets the highest burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt for such defendants.

      In November, a divided federal appeals court ruled that death-penalty defendants such as Hill must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are mentally disabled to be ineligible for execution. The court's majority said the Supreme Court left it up to states to develop their own guidelines when it banned the execution of the mentally disabled in 2002.

      Hill's lawyers appealed that decision, saying Georgia's law should be found unconstitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear it.

      http://www.ajc.com/news/state-sets-e...r-1469847.html
      An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    8. #8
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      These stories always make me wonder about Antis' argument about just putting cold blooded killers on LWOP as a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with these freaks.

    9. #9
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      Right.. the euro antis are the worst. They will argue Hill felt he had nothing to lose since he was already serving a life sentence.
      An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    10. #10
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      glad to see my state doing something about these animals. last year we had a good number taken out, maybe we can repeat that this year.

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