Twice-convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill was executed yesterday despite pleas by human rights groups and legal representatives who argued that Hill’s intellectual disability should have made him ineligible for the death penalty, CNN reports. Hill’s attorney slammed the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to grant a stay of execution. “Today, the court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia,” said Brian Kammer, Hill’s lawyer. “The intellectual disability community, which has strongly supported Mr. Hill’s case for many years, joined his legal team in the belief that the Supreme Court would step in and prevent Georgia’s flagrant disregard of the Constitution on behalf of the rights of people with disabilities,” said Kammer.
In a joint statement, the NAACP, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty called a state board’s decision to deny clemency, “an embarrassment to our state.” Federal law — stemming from a 2002 Virginia case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court — says executing intellectually disabled individuals violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling allows states to define intellectual disability. In Georgia, that means attorneys for death row inmates have to prove mental impairment “beyond a reasonable doubt.” “This is the strictest standard in any jurisdiction in the nation,” Kammer said.