Georgia inmate Warren Lee Hill had already taken a sedative in preparation for his execution when his execution was stayed, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The state Court of Appeals granted a stay on a lethal-injection protocol challenge. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Hill’s execution based on the argument that Hill is intellectually disabled and, thus, barred from execution.
“We are greatly relieved that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the execution of Warren Hill, a person with mental retardation. All the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill are unanimous in their diagnosis of mental retardation, so there is no question that his execution would have been in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia,” Hill’s attorney, Brian Kammer, said in a statement.
“The state of Georgia remains an extreme outlier in requiring that defendants prove they have mental retardation ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ This is the strictest standard in any jurisdiction in the nation. Even Warren Hill, a man with an I.Q of 70 who is diagnosed as mentally retarded by every doctor who has examined him, found it impossible to meet this standard of proof. The Eleventh Circuit was correct to intervene in this case and prevent a mentally retarded man from being put to death tonight.”
Hill’s stay came on the heels of national discourse and international interest. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter renewed their appeal to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Hill’s sentence today.
Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, wrote in The Guardian that executing Hill would be “another grotesque and unjust execution. There is no sense and no honor in executing children, the insane and those who suffer from intellectual disability.”
“Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity,” Former President Carter said in a statement.
Mental health professionals changed their evaluations of Hill in court documents late last week. Dr. Donald Harris, Dr. Thomas Sachy and Dr. James Gary Carter all now concur that Hill is of subaverage intelligence.