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SCOTUS denies appeal for intellectually disabled death row inmate

Despite the 2002 Supreme Court ruling in Atkins v. Virginia, which barred the mentally retarded (problematic as that terminology might be) from facing the death penalty, a man with an I.Q. of 70 was denied a death row appeal by SCOTUS this week.

Warren Hill, who faces the lethal injection in Georgia, has been deemed mentally retarded according to the prevailing legal standard by every doctor that has examined him -- including three physicians who had previously testified on the state's behalf. These witnesses have stated that their previous testimony against Hill's intellectual disability claims were based on insufficient evidence.

Based on Monday's SCOTUS ruling, Hill will no longer be able to appeal his death penalty sentence on the grounds of his mental retardation. Twice in two years, Hill has been within hours of execution before being granted a stay.

Hill was sentenced to death in 1991 for beating to death of a fellow inmate (he was already serving a life sentence at the time for murdering his girlfriend). At the time of his death penalty sentencing, the jury were not given the option to choose life without parole instead of death.

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