Posted: 8:46 p.m. Thursday, July 18, 2013

Judge grants Hill stay of execution

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A judge granted death row inmate Warren Lee Hill a temporary stay of execution, and attorneys for the state said they plan to appeal the injunction to the Georgia Supreme Court.

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Dr. Larry Sasich, an expert in pharmacy regulations who was called to testify by Hill's attorneys.

ATLANTA —


A judge granted death row inmate Warren Lee Hill a temporary stay of execution, and attorneys for the state said they plan to appeal the injunction to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan issued the injunction Thursday. Hill's attorneys argued the constitutionality of a law prohibiting the release of information about where Georgia gets its supply of lethal injection drugs in court.

"It could have come from China," Hill's attorney, Brian Kammer, said to Judge Tusan. "In fact, given history in this case, it probably did come from China. And it could be manufactured in a facility where they make pesticides."

There is a nationwide shortage of pentobarbital. Attorneys with the Office of the Attorney General conceded in the hearing that the lethal injection drug was purchased from an out-of-state compounding pharmacy and is not FDA-approved. Hill's attorney filed a public recordsrequest and received a redacted form not listing the drug's manufacturer.

"I would bet my life that this drug, as described in that document, does not meet acceptable approved standards in the United States, I would bet my life on that," said Dr. Larry Sasich, an expert in pharmacy regulations who was called to testify by Hill's attorneys.

Dr. Jacqueline Martin, a GBI deputy chief medical examiner, refuted that any potential contamination would affect the potency of the drug.

"There is so much going in that, it won't make a difference," Martin said.

Hill's attorney contended that the drug would deprive Hill of his 8th Amendment right, which prohibits "cruel and unusual" punishment.

The state's attorneys have argued the law is designed to discourage retaliation against those who participate in executions and is constitutional.

Tusan extended the stay so more hearings and briefings could be held, but didn't rule on whether the law prohibiting the release of lethal injection ingredients is unconstitutional.

Hill's attorneys also appealed to the United States Supreme Court, arguing he shouldn't be executed because he's mentally disabled.

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