Feb 18 2013
Lawyers are racing against the clock to save the life of a “mentally retarded” man in Georgia who is scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday despite a US supreme court ban on executing prisoners with learning disabilities.
The execution of Warren Hill at 7pm local time on 19 February would be the first completed death sentence in Georgia since that of Troy Davis. The 2011 judicial killing of Davis, in the wake of substantial evidence of his probable innocence, prompted an outpouring of disgust across America and the world.
Hill’s impending death by lethal injection has so far failed to ignite the mass outrage that marked the Troy Davis killing, but close followers of the case protest that it would be equally disturbing and unconstitutional. Writing in the Guardian, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, has said that “the world community is again watching Georgia with great concern as it prepares to carry out another grotesque and unjust execution.”
Hill, 53, was sentenced to death for killing a fellow prisoner, Joseph Handspike, in 1990 while he was already serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend, Myra Wright. The Handspike family has stated publicly that they oppose his execution.