Atlanta — The State Board of Pardons and Parole in Georgia on Tuesday rejected pleas from Catholic and other death penalty opponents that death-row inmate Warren Lee Hill be given clemency because he has a low IQ.
His execution by lethal injection scheduled for that evening was to go forward as scheduled at the state prison in Jackson, unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. News reports said he had come within hours of execution three times before in recent years.
Advocates for Hill said that Georgia would be executing a man with "a well-documented lifelong history of intellectual disability" in violation of his constitutional rights under the U.S. Supreme Court's 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, which bans the execution of those with intellectual disability.
The comments on Hill's behalf came in a Jan. 26 letter to the parole board, which conducted a clemency review that day before it reached its decision.
Hill, 54, was convicted and sentenced to death by a jury for the murder of a fellow inmate in 1990. At the time, Hill was serving a life sentence at Lee Correctional Institute for the 1985 murder of his girlfriend.
The parole board said in a statement it made its decision after listening to testimony and reviewing all information and documents pertaining to the case, including "the circumstances of the death penalty case, the inmate's criminal history and a comprehensive history of the inmate's life."
In addition to Hill's lawyers arguing for clemency for their client based on his IQ, the parole board received letters of support from many groups and individuals, including a petition signed by more than 5,000 people asking for mercy in his case.