Disabled Death Row Inmate Granted Stay of Execution At 11th Hour

Warren Hill was supposed to die by lethal execution at 7:00 pm on Monday, July 23 — by tonight. The Georgia Supreme Court has granted him a stay of execution, though not for the reasons that disability advocates have been calling for.

Hill’s lawyers have been fighting for more than a decade to halt his execution on the grounds that he has intellectual disabilities. With less than two hours to spare, he was granted the stay of execution — after he had already eaten what he thought would be his final meal in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson —  because Georgia’s high state court said that it has to determine if a recent change to Georgia’s lethal-injection protocol is in violation of state law, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

By a 6-1 vote, the same court has declined to hear Hill’s appeal to Georgia’s standard about whether an inmate is mentally disabled. Justice Robert Benham was the lone dissenter and said that he “would not allow the execution because Hill has been found to have a mental disability.”

In 1990, while Hill was serving a life sentence for killing his 18-year-old girlfriend, Myra Wright, he beat fellow prison inmate Joseph Handspike to death with a nail-studded board and received a death sentence.

The US Supreme Court bars the execution of those with mental retardation. While Georgia was the first state to ban the execution of those with mental retardation, its 1988 law also included the requirement of proving an inmate to be mentally retarded “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In 2002, Hill was found to be mentally retarded according to a lesser standard, based on a “preponderance of the evidence” or “more likely than not,” as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution put it. The Georgia Attorney General’s Office has said that Hill had failed to prove that he has intellectual disabilities.

It may not be months till the Georgia Supreme Court rules on Hill’s appeal. The court has given itself till April 14 of next year to make a decision.

As Brian Kammer, one of Hill’s lawyers, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ““I’m just profoundly grateful the Supreme Court granted this stay. A terrible miscarriage of justice was avoided, for now.”

Will disability advocates be able to persuade Georgia’s legislature to change the state’s burden of proof for “mental retardation”?


Related Care2 Coverage

Man With Intellectual Disabilities Faces Execution

BREAKING: Connecticut Abolishes Death Penalty

Breaking: California To Vote On Death Penalty In November


Photo from Wikimedia Commons


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran4 years ago


Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin5 years ago

Thes self-righeous santimonious death advocates on unCare2 calling for the planned execution of one of their own species, would be screaming for Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified. That lazy, uneducated, dirty, unemployed mischief making scoundrel, who never worked in his life, breaking up synagogues,spreading lies about salvation, and saying he was the King of the Jews and was going to save everyone. Crucify him. Yes, this is our human race at it's finest in the USA.

Vicki B.
Vicki B5 years ago

Very glad to hear this news.

Jen Matheson
Past Member 5 years ago

I'm not sure I ever read this post. I am so gla sto know he wasn't killed!

Lee Witton
5 years ago

While I simply cannot believe the death penalty is not warranted when someone commits a cold blooded murder, I believe anything less than DNA on the victim and at the crime scene must be present to convict and sentence to death. I think of the grief families go through because they've lost a precious child/children, or other beloved ones to monster who have no regard for human life. I would like to see family members be able to weigh in on the sentencing and if it is a death penalty crime but the family doesn't want the death penalty, that should be honored by the judge.

Mandi A.
Amanda A5 years ago

I worked with disabled children for a few years ( and am going back to that job in October, can't wait!) what's sad is, many of those children and young adults are extremely violent, I have been bitten, pushed, sexually assaulted, spit on, scratched, kicked, peed on, and have had countless objects thrown at me.. What happened to these children when they leave a facility? They're put on the street (not always, but more often then people think) these kids end up homeless, in abusive relationships, addicted to drugs. If this man is mentally disabled, I would like to know his story.. Where was his family? Was he placed in a group home as a child? So many sad stories, such a shame...

tiffany t.
tiffany t5 years ago

abolish the death penalty! Many people are living the death penalty without the confines of cement walls. wake up America
" An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael C.
Michael C5 years ago

I know not what motivated this man, that god that I am not the one who must decide his fate, all I do know is will his death bring anyone back to us.

The more time that I spend on the crazy planet the more I wish for the wisdom of Solomon.

Dieablo F.
Dieablo F.5 years ago

"stop pussy footing around and give him the lethal injection immediately, but do it slowly, so he has time to contemplate on the error of his ways."

Care2 scares me sometimes, the way your users don't seem to care about human life, but if a dog or cat is threatened: watch out.

America, grow up. You act like a small child when an adult is required, you embarrass your neighbours and the rest of your allies with your ignorant values and beliefs (not to mention your lust for global-conflict).


Jim N.
James N5 years ago

If I were a family member of Myra Wright or Joseph Handspike, I'd most likely want this scum bag to die. So what if he's stupid. Being stupid doesn't give you special privileges.

Plenty of people who actually are mentally retarded never hurt anyone.

Stop making Ms. Wright's family and Mr. Handspike's family pay taxes to take care of this worthless piece of shit.

We have 7 billion people, we can afford to jettison the worst of the worst. Stop tying this up and let's do this thing.