Georgia state lawmakers are taking a close look at a law that requires death penalty defendants to prove beyond a doubt they are mentally disabled to be spared execution on those grounds. A House committee plans to meet Thursday to hear input from interested groups and members of the public.
The state that was the first to pass a law prohibiting the execution of mentally disabled death row inmates is revisiting a requirement for defendants to prove the disability beyond a reasonable doubt — the strictest burden of proof in the nation. A state House committee is holding an out-of-session meeting Thursday to seek input from the public. Other states that impose the death penalty have a lower threshold for proving mental disability, and some don't set standards at all.
Attorneys for death row inmate Warren Lee Hill will be back in court Thursday to challenge the constitutionality of a Georgia law prohibiting the release of information on where the state acquired its supply of a lethal injection drug. They’re seeking to delay Hill's execution set for Friday.
The pending execution of Warren Lee Hill is highlighting Georgia’s tough standard for proving mental disability in death-penalty cases. Hill’s lawyers have long argued he shouldn’t be put to death because it’s illegal to execute the “mentally retarded.” But that has to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” in Georgia courts, and they decided Hill didn’t meet the standard. No other state requires that level of proof.
The brother of a death row inmate convicted in the 2001 killing a woman and her 3-year-old daughter wants state and federal judges to allow him to pursue appeals on his brother's behalf. Nicholas Cody Tate is set to be executed Jan. 31 and he has refused to challenge his conviction and death sentence.
The Georgia chapter of the NAACP is asking state lawmakers to end capital punishment. NAACP state president Edward Dubose said at a rally Monday that execution is murder. State Sen. Vincent Fort has said he will file legislation to end capital punishment.
Some Georgia death row inmates could lose their attorneys amid budget cuts that could potentially halt appeals hearings and even delay executions. To make up for the gap, a nonprofit that is involved in 90 percent of death-row cases will ask lawmakers for more funding to avoid layoffs.