"Georgia Execution Halted at the Last Minute," is the AP post filed by Kate Brumback.
The execution of a Georgia man who killed a fellow prisoner in 1990 was halted Tuesday at the last minute so courts could consider claims that he's mentally disabled and other issues.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted its stay of execution as 52-year-old Warren Lee Hill was being prepared for lethal injection. In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the appeals court said further review is needed of recent affidavits by doctors who changed their minds about Hill's mental capacity.
"In other words, all of the experts - both the State's and the petitioner's - now appear to be in agreement that Hill is in fact mentally retarded," judges in the majority wrote in their order.
The state court of appeals also issued a stay to allow more time to consider a challenge related to the state's lethal injection procedure.
Earlier in the day, the state parole board, the Supreme Court of Georgia and the U.S. Supreme Court had all declined to stop the 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," defense attorney Brian Kammer said in an email.
"Hill granted stays of execution," is by Bill Rankin for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Condemned killer Warren Hill has been granted stays of execution by the federal appeals court in Atlanta and the Georgia Court of Appeals, his lawyer said Tuesday.
After the court rulings, the Department of Corrections said there would be no execution Tuesday night.
Hill was scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. He had already taken a sedative to prepare for his execution. The decision to halt his execution were announced with less than an hour to spare.
The state Court of Appeals granted a stay on a challenge to the state’s lethal-injection procedure. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the stay on claims by Hill he is mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution, Brian Kammer, Hill’s lawyer, said.
Earlier Tuesday, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Hill, rejecting pleas that he be spared execution on claims he is mentally retarded.
The parole board’s decision was issued shortly after the state Supreme Court voted 5-2 to deny Hill a stay of execution.
Andrew Cohen posts, "Warren Lee Hill, and His Cause, Live to Fight Another Day," at the Atlantic.
Earlier coverage of Warren Hill's case begins with the preceding post.
Condemned Georgia prisoner Warren Lee Hill came within 30 minutes of being executed Tuesday night -- came within 30 minutes of becoming a reluctant martyr to a constitutional principle the United States Supreme Court first announced in 2002 in a case styled Atkins v. Virginia: Thou shalt not execute the mentally retarded. He came that close -- already well into Georgia's death penalty protocol -- despite the fact that he is mentally retarded, and that every medical expert who has evaluated him since 1991 now says so.
You would think with the precedent established in Atkins, and with Hill's mental status now beyond any reasonable doubt, that the justices in Washington would have been eager to block the execution. But it wasn't the Supreme Court that came to Hill's rescue. The justices instead denied Hill's request for a stay. It is unclear tonight whether they did so because they have no interest in his cause, and thus no interest in defending Atkins; or because they were aware of two other stays issued around the same time.
On Tuesday evening, it was the 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals, primarily based in Georgia, which blocked Hill's execution so its judges could look more closely at the startling new facts about Hill's mental status which emerged last week. And it was a state appellate court in Georgia which also blocked the execution Tuesday night because the judges there want to look a little more closely at Georgia's lethal injection protocols. This after another Georgia court, and the state's pardons board, had earlier in the day refused to help Hill.
So, for now anyway, Hill will be spared. There will be no execution tonight. And now the burden is on Georgia officials to convince the judges of those two other courts -- one federal, one state -- to permit Hill's execution to proceed.