Georgia Supreme Court Grants Stay of Execution For Mentally Disabled Man
The stay granted by the Supreme Court had nothing to do with Hill being mentally disabled. To the contrary, the stay was based on whether a recent change to Georgia’s lethal-injection protocol violates state law.
In a 6-1 vote, the Court declined to hear the appeal related to Hill’s mental capacity. But, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Justice Robert Benham, the lone dissenter, said he would not allow the execution because Hill has been found to have a mental disability.”
Hill was serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend when he beat an inmate to death.
According to the Washington Post, at the heart of the stay of execution are the drugs being used to sedate and kill Hill:
Hill was the first Georgia death row inmate scheduled to be executed since the state announced last week it was changing from a three-drug combination to a single lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital to carry out court-ordered death sentences. The state previously used pentobarbital to sedate inmates before injecting pancuronium bromide to paralyze them and then potassium chloride to stop their hearts.
Hill’s execution, initially planned for last Wednesday, was reset one day earlier when state announced the change in execution procedure.
At issue, the Georgia Supreme Court said in an order Monday, was a question raised by the defense whether switching to a single drug required a public hearing before it could be instituted under existing administrative procedures. The court order didn’t specify how long it would take to consider the issue.
Georgia’s standard of having condemned death row inmates prove their mental disability beyond a shadow of a doubt is the highest and most rigid standard in the country. And even though it is clear to most that, by executing Hill, the state of Georgia may very will be violating the Supreme Court’s prohibition on executing mentally disabled persons, it appears that the state of Georgia is poised to go full steam ahead.
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