Low-IQ inmate set for death

— Twenty-four years after Georgia became the first in the nation to ban the execution of the mentally disabled, the state is scheduled to put to death a man deemed so by a judge.

Warren Lee Hill is set to die by lethal injection Wednesday for fatally bludgeoning a fellow prison inmate with a nail-studded, 2-by-6 wooden board. At the time, Hill was serving a life sentence at a southwest Georgia prison for killing his 18-year-old girlfriend.

Georgia enacted the groundbreaking law banning the execution of those who meet the legal criteria for mental retardation in 1988, more than a decade before the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited the practice nationwide.

Hill's problem is that a judge found him more likely than not to be mentally disabled. Georgia's law requires capital defendants to clear a far more difficult legal threshold --- proving it beyond a reasonable doubt.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles will hear Hill's clemency request Friday for a sentence of life in prison without parole. Meanwhile, state and national advocacy groups for people with developmental disabilities are urging the board to commute his death sentence.

"As Georgia has recognized for almost a quarter of a century, it would be inhumane to execute Warren Hill," Rita Young and Lesa Hope, from All About Developmental Disabilities in Decatur, wrote the board.
In their own letter to the parole board, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, said Hill's execution "would undermine the state of Georgia's historic leadership in promoting the rights of the developmentally challenged."  More

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