Tag Archives: Joseph Handspike

1 stayed; 1 scheduled

1 stayed

Amnesty International reports that:

A judge in Georgia has granted Warren Hill a temporary stay of execution to consider a lethal injection question. A petition is still pending before the US Supreme Court on the claim that Warren Hill has “mental retardation” and that his execution would therefore violate the US Constitution. The execution warrant does not expire until noon on 20 July.

Shortly before the execution was to be carried out on July 15, the stay was issued. The hearing is to be held on July 18. If the stay is lifted before the execution warrant expires at noon on July 20, the state could conduct the execution.

1 scheduled

John M. Quintilla, Jr. is scheduled to be executed today in Texas. The execution may have already taken place. I am having trouble finding information. Quintilla was convicted of killing Victor Billings, a former sheriff’s deputy, in a robbery turned violent. Reports are that, along with two others, Quintilla “entered an action amusement center through a partially opened back door, demanded cash from an employee and advised all other patrons to get down on the floor. An adult white male [Victor Billings] attempted to disarm Quintanilla and was fatally shot three times. A second victim, and adult white female, was also shot, but the injury was not fatal.”

My prayers for those who loved Victor Billings and Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike. There can be no defense or justification of their murders.

But the execution of those who commit such acts is not the answer. It feeds the cycle of violence. There has to be a better way.

See you along the Trail.

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Last hope to stop execution of Warren Hill

Georgia has set an execution date of 15 July for Warren Lee Hill, Jr. This is not the first time that a date has been set.

Stays have been granted on previous occasions. Questions focus on his mental capacity.

Amnesty International reports that experts who have assessed Hill now say that he has ‘mental retardation’, which would make his
execution unconstitutional. His lawyers are asking the US Supreme Court to step in.

Hill was serving time for the murder of his girl friend, Myra Wright, when he was convicted of killing Joseph Handspike, another inmate, and sentenced to death. There is no question of his guilt.

The question in this case, beyond those in any execution, revolves around Hill’s mental capacity. His IQ is reported to be 70. This raises the question of his mental capacity and his awareness to understand his acts.

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of capacity in the 2002 decision Atkins. v. VirginiaThe American Psychological Association summarizes that decision as follows:

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that executions of mentally retarded criminals are “cruel and unusual punishments” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. The Court cited the growing number of states prohibiting the execution of persons with mental retardation as a reflection of society’s view that offenders considered to have mental retardation are categorically less culpable than the average criminal. The Court also reasoned that it was “not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty.”

However, Georgia has a high standard of proof for proving mental retardation: the standard of proving mental incapacitation beyond a reasonable doubt. Georgia does not believe that standard has been met in Hill’s case.

Amnesty International notes that Hill’s lawyers are asking the US Supreme Court to stop the execution. Several US law professors have filed a brief arguing that this is a case in which the Court should take this unusual step of exercising the Court’s power to consider “original habeas petitions” (in exceptional circumstances to take a case brought directly to it rather than on appeal from a lower court).

Amnesty International asks that those concerned about this case write immediately – before 15 July – to the Attorney General of Georgia. Letters should:

  • Note that  all seven experts who have assessed Warren Hill now agree that he has mental retardation, which would render his execution unconstitutional; and
  • ask the Attorney General to concede this and to support the petition for Supreme Court intervention.

The Honorable Sam Olens, Attorney General of Georgia
40 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334, USA
Fax: +1 404 657 8733
Email: AGOlens@law.ga.gov
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

Copies of the letter should go to:
Governor Nathan Deal
Georgia State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334, USA
Fax: +1 404 657 7332
Email: http://gov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-governor-domestic-form

I grieve for Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike and for their family and friends.  There can be no defense for Hill’s crimes.

But that is not all the story. What does it say about our society – about us – that we resort to execution in the case of an individual with the mental capacity and awareness of Hill? Can we not find another way?

See you along the Trail.

 

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Execution stayed

The Guardian reports that, for the second time in seven months, convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill, Jr. received a stay of execution in Georgia. In July, the stay came with some 90 minutes to spare. Tonight, reports indicate that only thirty minutes remained before the scheduled execution.

The Huffington Post states they have received the following from Brian Kammer, an attorney for Hill:

“We are greatly relieved that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the execution of Warren Hill, a person with mental retardation. All the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill are unanimous in their diagnosis of mental retardation, so there is no question that his execution would have been in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia.”

A post on CNN further notes that

The Georgia Court of Appeals acted on an appeal of a challenge to the way the prison handles the lethal injection drugs used in executions, while the federal appeals court issued a stay “ordering a further briefing on the issue of mental retardation,” Kammer said.

It remains to see what will happen as the issues that provided the basis for the stays are explored.

I grieve for Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike who were killed by Warren Lee Hill, Jr., and for their family and friends.  There is no defense for his crimes.

But … The Guardian lists ten reasons not to execute Hill.. One notes that the family of Joseph Handspike opposes the execution. One cites international law. The other reasons explore dimensions of the questions related on Hill’s mental capacity. I agree with them all.

I further believe that violence begets violence. Executions do not reverse horrible crimes. They serve little purpose beyond vengeance. We have alternatives to protecting our society.

See you along the Trail.

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Can we seek another way?

An execution always raises questions of morality.

Brutal, horrific crimes that violate our sisters and brothers do so as well.

But when the state kills – on behalf of we the people who are the state – is it a matter of justice? Or revenge? Is it an act of retribution? And is that the best we can do? Do executions make us safer? Do they convey the message that violence is the most appropriate answer to violence? Do they demean us all and fuel a cycle of violence?

The pending execution of Warren Lee Hill, Jr., currently scheduled for February 19 in Georgia, raises all these questions and more.

Hill was serving time for the murder of his girl friend when he was convicted of killing another inmate and sentenced to death. There is no question of his guilt.

The question in this case, beyond those in any execution, revolve around Hill’s mental capacity. His IQ is reported to be 70. This raises the question of his mental capacity and his awareness to understand his acts.

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of capacity in the 2002 decision Atkins. v. VirginiaThe American Psychological Association summarizes that decision as follows:

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that executions of mentally retarded criminals are “cruel and unusual punishments” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. The Court cited the growing number of states prohibiting the execution of persons with mental retardation as a reflection of society’s view that offenders considered to have mental retardation are categorically less culpable than the average criminal. The Court also reasoned that it was “not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty.”

However, Georgia has a high standard of proof for proving mental retardation: the standard of proving mental incapacitation beyond a reasonable doubt. Georgia does not believe that standard has been met in Hill’s case.

His attorney and those concerned for Hill are not seeking a pardon. They ask that he be granted clemency and incarcerated for life. The U.S. Supreme Court could prevent Hill’s execution in the next few days.

I grieve for Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike who were killed by Warren Lee Hill, Jr. and for their family and friends.  There can be no defense for Hill’s crimes.

But that is not all the story. What does it say about our society – about us – that we resort to execution in the case of an individual with the mental capacity and awareness of Hill? Can we not find another way?

See you along the Trail.

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Execution in Texas, postponement in Georgia

Texas executed Yokamon Hearn today. Hearn had been convicted of the 1998 murder of Dallas stockbroker Frank Meziere following a carjacking. Hearn had appealed his sentence on the grounds of his mental disabilities and inadequate legal advice early in his case. Courts denied those appeals.

I grieve for the family and friends of Frank Meziere. I recognize that Hearn had a previous criminal record. But imprisoning Hearn for life would have protected society from him.

Today in Georgia, the Department of Corrections postponed the execution of Warren Hill (who was convicted of the murder of Joseph Handspike). They did not do so because of concerns related to his mental abilities. The State Board of Pardons and Parole denied his appeal for clemency on those grounds. His lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to stay his execution on those grounds.

The postponement came because Georgia is changing its execution protocol to use only one drug, pentobarbital. Interestingly enough, Texas used the same drug to execute Hearn.

I grieve for the family and friends of Joseph Handspike. Again, however, imprisoning Hill for life would protect society from him.

Executions do not reverse horrible crimes. Violence begets violence. We have alternatives.

See you along the Trail.

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Stop the Execution of Warren Hill in Georgia

Amnesty International USA provides this introduction to the situation and an opportunity to send a message to the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles:

Warren Hill is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on July 18, despite having been ruled “mentally retarded” by a preponderance of the evidence by a Georgia state judge. Executing persons with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has the opportunity and the responsibility to do what courts have been unable to do – prevent this execution and preserve the integrity of Georgia justice.

To learn more about this case, read or print AIUSA’s full Urgent Action sheet: PDF format

Warren Hill is to be executed for the 1990 murder of a fellow prisoner, Joseph Handspike. He has a mental disability the seriousness of which leaves the constitutionality of his pending execution in real doubt. However, Amnesty International USA reports that Georgia requires defendants to prove their mental disability to “the enormously high ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard.” AIUSA suggests that in most other states, Hill would not face execution.

I grieve for the family and friends of Joseph Handspike. There is no justification for his death.

But I oppose Warren Hill’s execution and I have signed AIUSA’s call to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles because of questions about Hill’s mental capacities, because it will not bring Joseph Handspike back, because it will be an act of vengeance, because imprisonment without parole is an option, and because state violence diminishes us all.

See you along the Trail.

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