In the News

Warren Hill, Mentally Disabled, to be Executed in Georgia on Tuesday

The following is an article from Opposing Views, which features comments from GCDD Executive Director Eric Jacobson on Warren Hill's call for execution in Georgia.

Opposing Views, 2/18/13, Click here to read online.

Warren Hill, Mentally Disabled, to be Executed in Georgia on Tuesday
Opposing Views
By Michael Allen

Warren Hill, a mentally handicapped man, is scheduled to be put to death in Jackson, Georgia, on Tuesday, despite protests from human rights activists and mental health advocates around the world.

According to, Hill is reported to have an IQ of 70, putting him below the threshold for mental disability.

"There is no dispute among the experts that Mr. Hill is mentally retarded," wrote Hill's attorney Brian Kammer in an appeal.

"Because Mr. Hill's execution would be a fundamental miscarriage of justice, this Court must stay Mr. Hill's imminent execution and vacate his death sentence," Kammer wrote in another appeal.

After spending the last 21 years on death row for killing a fellow inmate, Hill will be the first person in Georgia to receive a single deadly dose of pentobarbital.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the execution of prisoners with mental disabilities in 2002, but gave each state the authority to decide what exactly constitutes a mental disability.

Georgia has the strictest standard of any state when it comes to determining mental disability, as courts require "proof of retardation beyond a reasonable doubt."

A Georgia court agreed with an appeal by Hill's lawyers, but was overruled by a higher court, which found that Hill could not prove his retardation beyond a reasonable doubt.

"While Georgia never contested Mr. Hill's intellectual disability or IQ of 70, he was not able to meet the burden of proof," Eric Jacobson, the Executive Director of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, wrote in an online editorial this week condemning the sentence.

Three doctors who had previously testified in favor of the state's position, wrote in a statement under oath that their evaluation of Hill was "extremely and unusually rushed" and "not conducive to an accurate assessment."

Hill was originally serving a life sentence in prison for murdering his girlfriend. While in prison, he killed a fellow inmate to death with a nail-studded board, for which he received the death penalty.

His defense team has submitted new appeals, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The world community is again watching Georgia with great concern as it prepares to carry out another grotesque and unjust execution," wrote UN special rapporteur Christof Heyns in a recent editorial. "There is no sense and no honor in executing children, the insane and those who suffer from intellectual disability."