Georgia man faces July 15 execution

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ATLANTA — A man whose attorneys contend he should not be executed because he is mentally disabled faces lethal injection on July 15, Attorney General Sam Olens said Wednesday.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens set Warren Lee Hill’s execution for 7 p.m. on July 15. Owens announced the date after a Lee County Superior Court judge signed a warrant setting a seven-day window for Hill’s execution from July 13 to July 20.

Hill was to be executed last year, but the state Supreme Court issued an 11th hour stay of execution. The state’s Supreme Court declined to stop the execution based on Hill’s claim that he is mentally disabled, but agreed to hold off while a change to the state’s execution protocol was challenged.

Hill was subsequently set to die in February, but a federal appeals court stepped in and ordered a halt to the execution. The court lifted the stay in April, paving the way for this month’s planned execution.

Leading up to Hill’s scheduled 2012 execution, Department of Corrections officials said they will start using “a single drug protocol” for executions in part because of a drug shortage. A new state law, which took effect Monday, makes private the names of companies that supply the state with any drugs used in an execution.

Hill was sentenced to death on Aug. 2, 1991, for the slaying of a fellow inmate in August 1990 at Lee Correctional Institution. The inmate was sleeping at the time of the attack and was not able to defend himself, according to prosecutors; at the time, Hill was already serving a life sentence for murdering a girlfriend.

Hill’s attorney is expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

“All experts who have evaluated Warren Hill agree: he is mentally retarded,” The Associated Press quoted Hill’s attorney, Brian Kammer, as saying. “This case presents the extraordinary circumstance where an individual who is ineligible for a capital sentence is about to be executed. Mr. Hill has no recourse left but to beg the nation’s highest court to intervene, and we trust and hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear his plea.”

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