Monday, July 16, 2012 Parole board denies clemency to inmate found mentally disabled
By Bill Rankin The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday denied clemency to a man whose lawyer says is mentally disabled and should not be executed.
Warren Lee Hill is set to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday at the state prison in Jackson.
In 1991, a southwest Georgia jury sentenced Hill to die for fatally bludgeoning a fellow prison inmate with a nail-studded, two-by-six wooden board. At the time, Hill was serving a life sentence at a prison in Lee County for killing his 18-year-old girlfriend.
Hill's lawyer, Brian Kammer, condemned the board's decision.
"I am horrified and outraged by the Board's decision to deny clemency for Warren Hill, a man found by numerous experts, including the State's experts, as well as the courts to be mentally disabled," Kammer said. "The Board is making the same mistake it made in denying clemency for another mentally retarded inmate, Jerome Bowden, in 1986. This shameful decision violates Georgia's and our nation's moral values and renders meaningless state and federal constitutional protections against wrongful execution of persons with mental retardation."
State Attorney General Sam Olens has declined to comment on the case. But his office, in a statement, said Hill has failed to prove he is mentally disabled.
Georgia became the first state in the nation to ban the execution of the mentally disabled, more than a decade before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional nationwide.
But in an ironic twist, and for the first time since Georgia enacted its groundbreaking law in 1988, the state is poised to execute Hill, a man a judge has found to be mentally disabled. Hill's problem is that the judge found him mentally disabled by a preponderance of the evidence — or more likely than not — and Georgia's law requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Hill did not clear that standard of proof.
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