February 20, 2013

Warren Lee Hill was sentenced to death for bludgeoning Joseph Handspike with a nail-studded board.

Handspike, Hill's fellow inmate, had been sleeping and other prisoners begged Hill to stop. Hill "was already serving a life sentence for murder in the 1986 slaying of his girlfriend, Myra Wright, who had been shot 11 times."

The Handspike murder took place in 1990, 23 years ago, and just as Hill was being prepped for the lethal injection, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay, so that it may be determined, after all these years, whether Hill is — as his lawyer put it — "a person with mental retardation."
Hill has received support from various activists and from former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn.

"Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity," President Carter said in a statement....

Georgia passed a law in 1988 prohibiting the execution of mentally disabled death row inmates, and the U.S.Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of mentally disabled offenders is unconstitutional....

Before trial, Hill's family members described him as "the leader of the family" and "a father figure," the state notes. He was not in special education classes and served in the Navy, where he received promotions, the state said.

62 comments:

DADvocate said...

Apparently he's smart enough to fake being stupid.

Oso Negro said...

Funny how there is such contempt from certain quarters for the notion that traditional measures of intelligence are valid, predictive of life outcomes, or relevant in today's world until it is time to execute people who perform poorly on them in addition to committing frightful crimes.

Shouting Thomas said...

Let him live so that he can execute a couple more inmates.

It's a net gain.

edutcher said...

He's smart enough to murder people.

And Ol' Bucketmouth is dumb enough to defend him.

EDH said...

"Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity," President Carter said in a statement...

Don't worry Jimmah. The 1970s were bad, but not that bad.

bagoh20 said...

""Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity," President Carter said in a statement...."

Getting worried Jimmmy?

bagoh20 said...

Great minds EDH.

sparrow said...

I don't see why "diminished capacity" is a reason to stop executions. If anything diminished capacity implies a diminished capacity to reform. Another weird argument for your files.

What hill has done is demonstrate that he's a continuing danger to other inmates and guards and that in my opinion is an "self defense" argument in favor of execution. Maybe not that strong given his years on death row - depending on how that's gone - may be mitigating. Hard to say without better info.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

If lack of mental capacity is a good reason for not putting down murderers, then we need to stop killing dogs for biting.

madAsHell said...

So, individuals with serious diminished capacity are outside the law?

Where can I find a my own special circumstance that puts me outside the law?

Freeman Hunt said...

So being stupid makes you murderous? That seems like a major slur on the stupid.

Richard Dolan said...

In a way, you have to admire the inventiveness of the lawyers representing this guy. It's 23 years after his last murder, and one of the grounds for relief was that the State had violated its administrative procedure act in changing the protocol for killing him. On some such ground, a state appellate court had halted the execution independently of the 11th Circuit, at least according to the article.

Killing someone is a grisly business, and doesn't become less grisly by endless proceduralism about the precise mechanism used to bring it about. Same with labels like 'mental retardation.' It's a fair bet that murderers are different from John Q Citizen in their psychological make-up, not altogether normal in any sense. But under today's death penalty jurisprudence, tagging that lack of normality as 'retardation' changes everything. The ostensible reason is that it is barbaric to execute someone lacking the capacity to fully understand both the offense and the justness of the penalty.

At its core, that perspective is a fine example of the Whig view of history, according to which legal standards for these things progress ineluctably toward the Higher and Better. (Whigs were -- certainly should have been -- big on capitalization). No one self-identifies much as a Whig these days (although Lincoln was one), but many subscribe to a Whiggish point of view. But before dumping too much on Whiggism, it's wise to remember that it shares many of the same charms as relgious doctrines of salvation as framed by writers taken with teleology (De Chardin comes to mind, if anyone still reads him).

cubanbob said...

So the guy will now be put in solitary for life making insane as well as stupid.

traditionalguy said...

This could make him a valuable inmate.

The warden lets it be known that a punishment for rebellious behavior is to be assigned as Hill's cellmate.

David said...

My favorite Supreme Court case was always Bowers v. Hardwick, a sodomy case. Then they reversed themselves on the damn thing.

Jim said...

Oso Negro at 10:00 nails it.

We need to put some lean six sigma black belts on the death penalty.

In 1953, we executed the killers of little Bobby Greenlease less than 100 days after they killed the little boy. That included fixing the gas chamber in Jefferson City so that they could execute both murderers at the same time.

What man has done, man can do.

phx said...

So being stupid makes you murderous? That seems like a major slur on the stupid.

You're smart enough to know that's not the argument.

SJ said...

Does this make an argument for expedited execution?

I have this image in my mind of an inmate murdering another inmate. The next day, he is tried, convicted, and hung. With the hanging visible from the prison yard.

The guy did his deed in prison, in an environment in which evidence should be easy to come by.

Admittedly, it's also an environment in which the prison guards can easily manufacture evidence.

Thus bringing up a quandry...do we make it easier or harder for prisoners to be executed for homicide inside prison? Do we put prisoners already convicted of homicide into a special category?

Mitchell the Bat said...

QUESTION SIX: Mental Retardation is to Juvenility, as Gun is to __________.

(a) Affidavit.

(b) Diagnosis.

(c) Nail-Studded Board.

(d) Stay of Execution.

whatisblivit said...

People with diminished mental capacity can be murderous psychopaths that need to be executed too. Just because you are mentally retarded doesn't mean you can't have a severe personality disorder. Some mentally retarded people are genuinely nice people. Others..... Not so much.

Levi Starks said...

I wonder of anyone has considered showing compassion to those still in their mothers womb?
I mean what with their diminished mental capacity and all....

Clyde said...

Speaking of Carter, when is the old reprobate going to shake off this mortal coil? I want my Carter "Day of 'Mourning'" before I retire, dammit! Although there won't be any mourning at my house. I won't drive to Plains to piss on his grave when he goes, but only because I hate waiting in long lines.

Sam L. said...

Murderers are always victims.

Paul said...

Give me a nail studded board and I'll help the SOB with his retard claim.

Leland said...

Levi, well I guess it depends on if they know what is happening to them or not; which if I recall is the issue with executing the mentally disabled. Woah, it looks like you are trying to see if the logic holds, even if that was never the point of the argument.


On a different note, a hypo: Let's say a person is sentenced to death, and at the time of the act and conviction was considered sane and intelligent. Then in prison, they are attacked like Mr. Handspike, but don't die. Instead of death, they are left in a state similar to Gabby Giffords (I'm not picking on her, actually I have a friend in much worse shape from a car accident, but he doesn't have notoriety). This person would now have "serious diminished capacity", thus do they get a commuted sentence?

Methadras said...

Anyone wondering why the death penalty doesn't work in this country is because it has been defanged by judicial stupidity like this. It has no teeth, therefore no one fears it to any degree.

phx said...

Well if the death penalty doesn't work and it can't be fixed to anyone's satisfaction, just be rid of it.

LWP.

bagoh20 said...

"Well if the death penalty doesn't work and it can't be fixed to anyone's satisfaction, just be rid of it. "

Let's try that with the murderers first. Anybody that thinks executing a murderer doesn't work, didn't read the story, or thousands like it. The guy shouldn't have been alive to pick up that board.

"Hill "was already serving a life sentence for murder in the 1986 slaying of his girlfriend, Myra Wright, who had been shot 11 times."

bagoh20 said...

Explain the decency and compassion of forcing people to live locked in a cage with that guy.

phx said...

Let's try that with the murderers first. Anybody that thinks executing a murderer doesn't work, didn't read the story, or thousands like it. The guy shouldn't have been alive to pick up that board.

Never mind the right or wrong. It doesn't work. Apart from magical thinking (congress/the state leg will fix it!), how can you make it work? What do you propose?

If you can't come up with a workable plan, I say abolish it. The system now is worse than no cap punishment at all.

phx said...

Explain the decency and compassion of forcing people to live locked in a cage with that guy.

Let's ask Bubba the Male Rapist if he'll be more comfortable if we execute the retarded murderer.

hombre said...

Phx wrote: "Well if the death penalty doesn't work and it can't be fixed to anyone's satisfaction, just be rid of it. "

Liberal sociopaths persuade liberal judges to interfere with the effectiveness of the death penalty then argue that it should be abolished because it is ineffective.

Sounds about right.

phx said...

Liberal sociopaths persuade liberal judges to interfere with the effectiveness of the death penalty then argue that it should be abolished because it is ineffective.

Who me?

hombre said...

Phx wrote: "Never mind the right or wrong. It [the death penalty] doesn't work."

Really? Give us the name of any convicted murderer who has been executed then killed again.

We'll wait.

phx said...

Okay, so there's no problem with DP. What are you wingers complaining about then??

Leland said...

It seemed people weren't complaining about the death penalty, but rather the process that prevents the penalty being carried out. What were you talking about phx? You keep claiming its broken and should be abolished; what is it that you think is broken that can't be fixed? The needle? The IV tubes? What's broken?

phx said...

Anyone wondering why the death penalty doesn't work in this country is because it has been defanged by judicial stupidity like this. It has no teeth, therefore no one fears it to any degree.

Argue with Methedras. He's the dingbat who said the death penalty doesn't work!

phx said...

@Leland personally I think the expense and the almost total random application amongst our friends the murderers.

I also feel that we have or we will execute someone innocent, but what the hey, it's not like I'M running on the family values platform.

hombre said...

Phx wrote: "I also feel that we have or we will execute someone innocent, but what the hey, it's not like I'M running on the family values platform."

Murderers execute innocent victims every day without benefit of due process of law. How many of those would the death penalty have to deter before liberal sociopaths would decide "it works."

Please don't offer up the "it's not a deterrent" bullshit. That's just a fabrication to allow lefties to avoid cognitive dissonance. You know, like "we don't have a spending problem."

phx said...

Murderers execute innocent victims every day without benefit of due process of law. How many of those would the death penalty have to deter before etc etc

How many have they deterred?

Roger J. said...

Deterrence is of course one argument in favor of capital punishment--Retribution, it seems, to me is an equally compelling argument. I tend to favor the retribution analysis.

bagoh20 said...

"How many have they deterred?"

Everyone knows that, because you have to know exactly how many lives will be saved before you decide to save any. The number is 2,485,321.47 but even if it saves just one life...

phx said...

I'll see your 2 and a half million and raise you 20 million.

Boy, you guys in favor are tough debaters!

bagoh20 said...

"Boy, you guys in favor are tough debaters!"

You haven't made a single point in this thread that held up even against the first counter argument. Guess why you can't.

R.A. Crankbait said...

He shot his girlfriend 11 times and beat his next victim repetitively even after being asked to stop. Clearly OCD. Case dismissed.

phx said...

You haven't made a single point in this thread that held up even against the first counter argument. Guess why you can't.

Heh. You're so much tougher when you're the jury AND the prosecutor, huh?

eddie willers said...

what is it that you think is broken that can't be fixed? The needle? The IV tubes?

The method is broken.

We should use a version of the Guillotine so that we end up with nice and shiny organs allowing the criminal to "give back to his community".

hombre said...

"How many have they deterred?"

Only lefties are capable of measuring non-events, i.e., events that have been deterred. Lol.

However, logic and self reporting by offenders tells us that the prospect of punishment deters all types of crime. For example, the year after armed robbery became a mandatory sentence crime in Arizona, armed robberies dropped by 25%. Presumably, harsher punishment deters harsher crime, particularly in the case of a crime requiring premeditation.

Going back to your question: I don't know how many murders are deterred. How many do you think we should risk?

Methadras said...

phx said...

Well if the death penalty doesn't work and it can't be fixed to anyone's satisfaction, just be rid of it.

LWP.


Like comedic timing, PHX reveals the endgame for doing away with the death penalty. The deliberate hollowing by leftists of a punitive consequence to murder via sanctimonious compassion couched as social justice.

Leland said...

I don't see where your feelings, phx, means something doesn't work. I've met people that feel we never landed on the moon because they can't fathom how a rocket works. I don't consider their debate points less rational than yours.

Sigivald said...

Well, getting a promotion in the Navy is not incompatible with being mentally retarded...

(Sorry, I know too many Marines.)

(More seriously, to explain to Sparrow why we care, a "diminished capacity" to know right from wrong removes the moral culpability we justify capital punishment with, and indeed most of our system of Justice.

It's not some generic "diminished capacity" that would count, like "being kinda slow or stupid" - there'd have to be a good reason to believe he really couldn't understand that killing someone was a morally important action.

And if he is so, well, permanent institutionalization and perhaps solitary confinement for the safety of others is a great call.

But - and I'm a fairly law-and-order person who supports capital punishment - I don't think "it'd be safer to just kill him" is a great reason for the State to do so, absent the moral culpability of Knowing It Was Wrong.

If they're both incapable of that and quite dangerous, we lock them up for the rest of their lives, reserving deliberate killing by the State for people who knew better and acted anyway.

Not that I see any obvious reason to believe that the incapacity excuse applies to this guy, mind you.)

McTriumph said...

Fuck this death row shit. Just free these inmates in Fredrick county with a Westview Promenade shopping center movie pass.

Methadras said...

Sigivald said...

Well, getting a promotion in the Navy is not incompatible with being mentally retarded...

(Sorry, I know too many Marines.)

(More seriously, to explain to Sparrow why we care, a "diminished capacity" to know right from wrong removes the moral culpability we justify capital punishment with, and indeed most of our system of Justice.

It's not some generic "diminished capacity" that would count, like "being kinda slow or stupid" - there'd have to be a good reason to believe he really couldn't understand that killing someone was a morally important action.

And if he is so, well, permanent institutionalization and perhaps solitary confinement for the safety of others is a great call.

But - and I'm a fairly law-and-order person who supports capital punishment - I don't think "it'd be safer to just kill him" is a great reason for the State to do so, absent the moral culpability of Knowing It Was Wrong.

If they're both incapable of that and quite dangerous, we lock them up for the rest of their lives, reserving deliberate killing by the State for people who knew better and acted anyway.

Not that I see any obvious reason to believe that the incapacity excuse applies to this guy, mind you.)


Insanity and diminished mental capacity for me has never been an excuse to not issue the death penalty when warranted. People world wide know what murder is. To use the legalistic idea or notion that someone with diminished mental capacity does not know what murder is, is a ploy used to avoid the death penalty. Children know what murder is for crying out loud. Why do we have these pedantic discussions about doing the right thing?

bgates said...

Well if ___ doesn't work and it can't be fixed to anyone's satisfaction, just be rid of it.

"gun control", "ObamaCare", "the public school system"....

veni vidi vici said...

So, how much money is the state spending on this two-time murdering piece of shit?

John Cunningham said...

Seems to me that the time is long past to turn this "retard" into an
Alabama windchime.

phx said...

I've met people that feel we never landed on the moon because they can't fathom how a rocket works. I don't consider their debate points less rational than yours.

Fine Leland. You are saying it's not rational to believe someone innocent will be executed or has been executed (that was my "feeling").

I think your position - if that's your position - is the irrational one.

Rusty said...

Freeman Hunt said...
So being stupid makes you murderous? That seems like a major slur on the stupid.


It's OK. They'll never know they've been slandered. Even if they read it.

Rusty said...

phx said...
Let's try that with the murderers first. Anybody that thinks executing a murderer doesn't work, didn't read the story, or thousands like it. The guy shouldn't have been alive to pick up that board.

Never mind the right or wrong. It doesn't work. Apart from magical thinking (congress/the state leg will fix it!), how can you make it work? What do you propose?


" Thank god for the death penalty. Without it I couldn't control these guys."


Warden, Stateville Penetentary


"He's dead? Good. Now there's no possibility he can escape and murder someone elses daughter."


Remember phx. "If it saves jut one child......."

dbp said...

At some point, granting mercy to a killer becomes depraved indifference to his next victim.

billzdad said...

I think we should have "nail-studded board control." Not in prison of course, because what convict would register his nail-studded board, but the average law-abiding citizen should be required to register with the state to get a permit if he or she wants to buy some boards and nails--like fixing up the house with, etc.

You never know when these L.A.(Law Abiding) Citizens might go crazy and go into a grocery store and start swinging those nail-studded boards.