Last-minute stay granted for Warren Lee Hill

by: WSBTV.com<\/a> web staff Updated:

If the execution happens, authorities plan to use one large dose of the sedative pentobarbital. Previously, Georgia used a three-drug cocktail.
JACKSON, Ga. —

Channel 2 Action News has learned that a stay has been granted for Warren Lee Hill.

Hill was set to be executed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, but shortly before that 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 that he was mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution, Brian Kammer, Hill's lawyer, said.

Kammer also warned that the stays may only be temporary.

There had been an uproar worldwide over this execution, given the fact Hill has a reported IQ of 70. Legal paperwork uses the term mentally retarded when referring to someone with that IQ level.

Georgia has the strongest burden of proof of any state in the U.S., requiring the defense to prove the defendant's mental capability beyond a reasonable doubt.

Former President Jimmy Carter jumped into the discussion again Tuesday afternoon, urging officials to commute Hill's sentence to life in prison.

"Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity," Carter said in a statement.

Hill was sentenced to die for the August 1990 murder of John Handspike, an inmate serving life in the same prison where Hill was incarcerated for murdering his 18-year-old girlfriend by shooting her 11 times four years earlier.