A two-time killer was executed in Georgia on Tuesday evening after his claim that he has the intellect of a child failed to sway the U.S. Supreme Court -- and his lawyer blasted his lethal injection as a "moral stain" on the justice system.
Warren Lee Hill, 54, was pronounced dead at 7:55 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson. He did not make a final statement and declined to request a special last meal, the Georgia Department of Corrections said.
"Today, the Court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia," Hill's lawyer, Brian Kammer said. "Georgia has been allowed to execute an unquestionably intellectually disabled man, Warren Hill, in direct contravention of the Court’s clear precedent prohibiting such cruelty."
Hill was sentenced to death for the fatal beating of a fellow inmate in 1990. He was already serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend five years earlier. His lethal injection was first scheduled in 2012 and was postponed three times for various appeals.
His lawyers had hoped a Supreme Court ruling last year that Florida's strict IQ cutoff for disability was illegal could be used to show that Georgia's standard -- which says disability must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt -- is also unconstitutional.
Less than an hour before the scheduled execution time, the high court rejected the challenge, with two justices dissenting.
"This execution is an abomination," Kammer said. "The memory of Mr. Hill’s illegal execution will live on as a moral stain on the people of this State and on the courts that allowed this to happen."
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to Oklahoma's execution drugs that could affect lethal injections in other states — but Georgia uses a different chemical so that didm;t affect Hill's case.
Meanwhile, a Texas appeals court issued a stay of execution for a death-row inmate tied to five murders. Garcia Glen White's lawyers had argued that cocaine use may have mentally impaired him, calling into question his decision to to ask for a lawyer while he was being interrogated. The defense also cited DNA testing that court suggest another suspect at the crime scene. The court did not say why it was granting White a reprieve.
Another Texas inmate denied a stay by state appeals court, Robert Ladd, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his execution on a mental disability claim. Ladd, who was convicted of killing a mother and two children in a 1978 arson fire, is scheduled for a Thursday lethal injection.